ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Imran Khan is one of many owners of unauthorised buildings set to benefit from new by-laws and regulations notified by the Capital Development Authority (CDA) at the end of last year.

The Islamabad Capital Territory Residential Sectors Zoning (Building Control) Regulations 2020 were notified in the Gazette of Pakistan on Dec 26, 2019.

The by-laws have allowed the owners of unauthorised construction in Zone II, IV and V to have their buildings regularised by the CDA. Mr Khan’s palatial residence, spread over more than 300 kanals in the Banigala area, falls in sub-zone B of Zone IV.

Mr Khan applied to regularise his house in 2018. That October, the authority raised objections to his application and asked him to provide missing information. The regularisation process was later stopped.

Sources in the CDA said that he was among around 200 people who applied to have their buildings regularised, but the process was halted by an Islamabad High Court judgement that declared that no unauthorised buildings could be regularised in the capital until a commission of experts made changes to Islamabad’s master plan.

New regulations aim to encourage construction, CDA member planning says

A commission formed by the federal government proposed interim relief in this regard, which also paved the way for the regularisation of construction in Zone II, IV and V. The CDA by-laws are not applicable to Zone III, where the fate of unauthorised construction will be decided by a consultant.

Illegal housing developments will also not benefit from these by-laws, the officials said, but applications for buildings and homes constructed on private land can be entertained.

A CDA official said that Mr Khan can also apply to have his residence regularised. “If the application is submitted, we will look into it and we will deal with it in accordance with the rules,” the official said.

While discussing unplanned construction in the capital, the notification states: “Such structure/building should not be a part of any housing scheme defined under the prevailing provisions of such area. The owner will submit an undertaking that in future, if directed by the authority, then the owner shall be bound to bring the structure in conformity with requirements of that area.”

The minimum width of streets in areas of unauthorised constructionwill be 30 feet, with mandatory plans for drainage and sewerage.

“These by-laws and modalities shall not be construed as an umbrella for the constructions that have been made in violation of the zoning regulations or illegal constructions,” a CDA official said.

CDA officials said every individual application will be scrutinised and decided based on merit and in accordance with zoning and building regulations. Applicants will be bound to accept the authority’s decision and remove any illegal or unauthorised construction that is not covered by the regulations.

Applications for regularisation must include a number of land ownership documents, a site plan that shows access from the existing revenue road, building plans prepared by an architect enlisted by the CDA and structural drawings and designs along with structural soundness and stability certificates from a structural engineer enlisted by the CDA, a plan for the disposal of sewage and solid waste management and an undertaking to deposit conversion and development charges as determined and demanded by the CDA.

The application scrutiny fee is Rs6 per square feet of covered area of the building and the regularisation fee is Rs100 per sq feet of covered area.

CDA Member Planning Dr Shahid Mahmood confirmed that the new by-laws and regulations had been notified, adding that they aim to encourage construction across the capital.

Sources said the new by-laws aim to encourage the construction of high-rises. They allow an unlimited number of storeys subject to the floor area ratio, but in effect this translates to up to 50 storeys, the sources said.

They said that the floor area ratio for markazes is 1:6 for a plot larger than 1,000 square yards and 1:5 for a plot measuring 1,000 sq yards. The floor area ratio for plots between 3,000 sq yards and 5,000 sq yards it will be 1:9 and for 5,000 sq yards and above it will be 1:10.

The floor area ratio for the northern strip in Blue Area has been increased from 1:8 to 1:10, while for the southern strip it has been increased to 1:6 from 1:5.

An additional storey has been approved for industries and trade centres, sources said. They added that CDA by-laws for markazes will also be applicable to housing societies.

The new by-laws are applicable from Jan 1, 2016, onwards, but will not be applicable to construction prior to this date. Under-construction buildings and buildings to be constructed in the future will also benefit from these by-laws.

They said that the owners of commercial buildings have been asked for the first time to construct car parks on elevated storeys – such as the second or third storey.

There is no cut-off date for the regularisation of houses, the sources said. In addition, people will now be allowed to construct staircase towers, also known as a mumty, on one-fourth of the ground construction coverage.

The by-laws also cover major astride roads including Islamabad Expressway, Park Road, G.T. Road, Lehtrar Road, Kahuta Road, Kuri Road and Fatehjang Road. Schools, hospitals, hotels and motels and marquees are also covered.

The CDA wrote the by-laws after the cabinet approved an interim report prepared by the commission reviewing Islamabad’s master plan on Oct 14, 2019. The CDA board approved the by-laws before they were notified.

Published in Dawn, January 4th, 2020