The building industry is hopeful that the latest set of amendments to Kerala Building Rules (KBR), announced on Thursday, will help stem horizontal urban sprawl, cut red tape and reduce the time now taken for approval of building plans.

Containing the horizontal spread of the city area will help reduce any further damage to the environment from reclamation of precious wetland bodies and paddy fields. Proposals like a single-window clearance of plans will help drastically reduce the time now taken for approvals.

There is no clarity yet on what the government has brought about though the industry expects the amendments to have liberalised the rules to help vertical growth, said a builder in the city. He said that the exact picture would emerge once the gazette notification was out.

The gazette notification is expected in about 10 to 20 days and builders are keeping their fingers crossed though they feel that the spirit of the discussions that led to the amendments will be maintained in the new set of rules.

Floor area ratio

Restoration of the Floor Area Ratio (FAR) of three, in prevalence prior to the 2009 amendment, is keenly looked forward to by the builders, said a senior architect. He said that the FAR of three was extendable to four with payment of additional fees. The ratio was reduced in 2009 and restoration of the pre-amendment ratio would help improve the utilisation of land, which is virtually not available in the State now.

Industry sources said that going by the newspaper reports pre-amendment FAR would be restored with additional fee of about Rs. 300 per square foot for having additional floor area.

Delay in plan approval

Another key problem, builders hope, which will be addressed by the amendments is the present delay in approval of plans. The late 2009 amendments and subsequent amendments in 2010 had brought the building industry to a screeching halt.

According to architects, who are directly involved in getting plans approved, a plan has to land on 68 desks before it sees the light of approval. This means that a plan, in perfect shape, will take between six months and one year for clearance by the Chief Town Planner. However, the time taken for approval of plans that may need changes to comply with regulations will be much more.

The centralised approval system has delayed the process considerably and a single window facility is something that the builders are looking forward too.