ISLAMABAD: The issue related to the longstanding bar on high-rise buildings in Islamabad has been resolved as the Capital Development Authority (CDA) has secured no-height limits in certain areas, including Blue Area, from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Prime Minister Imran Khan recently directed the CDA and CAA to resolve the issue of height restriction to encourage vertical structures to attract investors and preserve the green areas.

Following the directive, CDA Chairman Amer Ali Ahmed and CAA authorities held a number of meetings and discussed the matter.

The CAA on Thursday issued a notification stating that the additional area within the Outer Horizontal Surface (OHS) - 500 feet above ground level limit surface - of old Benazir Bhutto International Airport (BBIA), which is around 150 square kilometres, had been exempted from the height limitation of 500 feet above ground level for planning high-rise buildings by the CDA.

CDA officials explained that the exemption would apply to buildings on the eight kilometre strip of Blue Area from F-6/G-6 to F-9/G/9 and a small portion of other urban area.

Prime Minister Imran Khan had directed CDA and CAA to resolve the issue of height restriction to attract investors

They said now “sky is the limit” in the area but the CDA will make new regulations to supervise the skyscrapers.

The sources said the civic agency was likely to allow the height of buildings in Blue Area to 700 to 800 feet.

Earlier, the CDA used to encourage horizontal construction and allowed maximum height of buildings to be 420 feet.

“On the directive of the prime minister, we held meetings with CAA and pleaded that there should be no restriction or at least 1,000 feet should be allowed in Blue Area to encourage high-rises,” said the CDA chairman.

He said the exemption of height would help the authority attract more investments.

Now the investors will have the freedom and leverage of preparing designs of their choice for their buildings.

Another CDA officer added that removal of the height restriction was a big development.

The CAA notification said the area outside the Outer Horizontal Surface (500 feet above ground level limit surface) of the old BBIA would have no height restriction for the CDA.

The additional area, which is around 150 sq km, has also been exempted from the height limitation of 500 feet above ground level for planning high-rise buildings.

The area north of funnel areas of BBIA shall also stand cleared for building structures up to 500 feet above ground level and no prior height clearance form CAA will be required by the CDA.

Last month, the prime minister directed the CDA and CAA to encourage vertical structure and later the federal cabinet also approved the initiative.

“The prime minister told the cabinet that vertical structure was need of the hour in view of increased population and fast depleting greenbelts, especially in major cities of the country. In turn, the cabinet ratified the same,” said a handout, which was issued after the cabinet meeting.

Published in Dawn, March 9th, 2019

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