Building by-laws finalised as height restriction lifted in capital

Updated June 27, 2019

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There will be no bar on number of storeys but buildings would have to be constructed in accordance with floor area. — Dawn/File
There will be no bar on number of storeys but buildings would have to be constructed in accordance with floor area. — Dawn/File

ISLAMABAD: After the federal government lifted the height restriction in the capital city, city managers have proposed new by-laws for commercial buildings.

The proposed by-laws were finalised by a committee headed by Director Building Control Faisal Naeem.

“The committee has finalised its work and we will present the new by-laws before the CDA board for approval,” Mr Naeem told Dawn.

There will be no bar on number of storeys but buildings would have to be constructed in accordance with floor area ratio, official says

He said there would be no restriction on the number of storeys but the owners would have to construct the buildings in accordance with the floor area ratio (FAR).

Other CDA officials said for Marakiz the committee has proposed FAR of 1:6 for plot measuring over 1,000 square yards and 1:5 for 1,000 sq-yard plot.

For Blue Area, it has been proposed that for plot measuring up to 300 sq-yard FAR would be 1:8, for 3,000 sq yard to 5,000 sq yard 1:9 and for 5,000 sq yard and above 1:10. Similarly, for class-three shopping centres, one additional floor for making ground plus two storeys will be allowed.

But the CDA board is the final authority to approve or reject these by-laws.

The CDA board was to take up the proposed by-laws at a meeting held on June 14 but because of unavailability of the member planning the matter was deferred to the next meeting.

Sources said the committee which finalised the proposed by-laws also recommended that revenue to be generated from granting approval in accordance with the new by-laws should be spent on improving services in the areas.

They said there was a dire need to improve services in Islamabad as available services such as water and sewerage were already insufficient.

“Encouraging the trend of high-rise buildings is a good sign but there is a need to look into other allied issues,” said a town planner of the CDA.

He said the fire brigade had no capacity to handle fire incidents in high-rise buildings. Currently, snorkels of the Emergency and Disaster Management of Metropolitan Corporation (MCI) have a limit of reaching up to a height of 68 metres which means it cannot handle fires in high-rise buildings.

“We will have to take other formations such as the MCI on board before proposing the new height limit,” said an official of the CDA.

He said there was also a need to get the existing by-laws strictly implemented as majority of high-rise buildings had no completion certificates - a prerequisite for operating a building.

He said most of the owners of high-rise buildings ignored the CDA by-laws and were operating the buildings with the completion certificates.

The completion certificate is issued for a building after checking its structural stability and arrangements for fire safety etc.

Meanwhile, CDA officials said new buildings by-laws for major roads such as Murree Road, Park Road, Lehtrar Road, Islamabad Expressway and GT Road had also been lined up for the next board meeting.

These by-laws were finalised last year by planning wing but approval from the board was not yet taken.

When contacted, CDA spokesperson Syed Safdar Ali said at the last board meeting it was decided that the new by-laws would be taken up at the next meeting.

“We proposed by-laws to facilitate investors and developers and encourage high-rise buildings,” he said.

On the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) lifted the height limits in certain areas, including Blue Area.

But the CAA later announced that permission was still required from Pakistan Air Force (PAF) for construction of buildings in the vicinity of Nur Khan Air Base.

Published in Dawn, June 27th, 2019