Second Master Plan says Chennai needs three times parking space it has now

When two tyres of a brand new car parked on Officers Colony Main Road in Anna Nagar Western Extension were stolen recently, two major concerns of city residents cropped up - one, safety of vehicles parked on city roads and another, the inadequate parking space in residential localities that forced many to park on the roads.

The city's vehicular population is clearly on the rise. Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority's Second Master Plan itself says that Chennai needs three times the parking space it currently has to accommodate the vehicular population it has. It goes on to state that haphazard parking has led to loss in the road capacity that ranges between 15% and 60%.

A total of 3,444 cars alone stepped onto the city roads in a month in 2010. The haphazard parking of four-wheelers on either side of streets and illegal parking of transport vehicles are just a few signs to say that parking standards are poor, resulting in traffic congestion on main and inner roads.

Old apartments

Apartments that were constructed 15 and more years ago are having more problems. Compounding this problem is the uncontrolled conversion of residential areas into the commercial in otherwise calm localities.

Residents of some old apartments, who are considering demolishing and rebuilding their apartments for various reasons, say that creating more parking space is one of the factors in mind. The CMDA now stipulates that the entire stilt floor could be dedicated for parking vehicles which will not be included in the Floor Space Index.

T. S. Gopalakrishnan, who is on the committee studying the possibility of demolition of nearly 25-year-old Gitanjali Apartments in T. Nagar, says when the occupants of the apartments originally came, there were about 5 cars for the 12 flats. "I remember how one of our neighbours, Vasudevan, would patiently remove each of the cars parked behind his , take his own car out, and then park all the vehicles back early in the morning," he recalls.

Now, with more cars in the complex and outside, thanks to commercial establishments coming up in the vicinity, space is a major issue. "While there are several considerations involved in the proposal to demolish and rebuild, parking space is definitely one," Mr. Gopalakrishnan adds.

Green Peace Constructions Private Limited has completed nearly 30 projects in lands that had housing board flats, where they demolish the apartment for a new. It is next working on a Housing Board Flat in Anna Nagar where 54 flats are getting demolished for a new apartment with 80 flats, said P.R. Earnarst, Chairman, Green Peace Constructions Private Limited.

Safety matters

Incidents of car theft are also getting common with poor parking spaces in apartments. The lack of safety and space has made retired banker R. Sivakumar drop his plan to purchase a car. "There are six flats in our TNHB complex and parking space only for two. I have decided to manage with my two-wheeler, as it is a huge risk parking on the road," says the Thiruvanmiyur resident.

The city traffic police have also been receiving sporadic complaints of cabs and buses belonging to educational institutions and IT companies being parked in residential areas, mainly at night. Cases of parking violations have been booked in some incidents reported, but traffic police personnel feel that a proper parking strategy can only solve the problem.

"The issue should be discussed with representatives of the IT sector, educational institutions and cab owners in order to arrive at an amicable solution. Finding open areas for parking transport private vehicles could be an alternative," said Sonal V. Misra, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Traffic (Central Chennai).

What regulations say

The CMDA regulates developments through issue of Planning Permission under section 49 of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971.According to officials of the CMDA, parking standards for obtaining planning permission in the Chennai Metropolitan Development Area have seen changes in the last decade. Particularly after the Second Master Plan, various initiatives towards solving problems pertaining to parking in residential areas have been taken.

Ten per cent of the number of parking spaces stipulated for a residential construction has to be earmarked for parking vehicles of visitors in residential apartments with units exceeding six.

In case of Special Buildings with Ground + 3 floors, group development or multi-storeyed building, applications are directly admitted in CMDA. It has delegated powers to the Local Bodies within the Chennai Metropolitan Area to issue planning permission for ordinary buildings and buildings under normally permissible categories.

Corporation's role

The Chennai Corporation has received around 10,000 planning permission applications last year and 90 per cent of them are for residential units. There is creation of new parking space in these new structures. But many of the existing residential structures have no parking space and the residents who buy cars are forced to park the vehicles on the streets nearby.

Mayor M.Subramanian said that the civic body would undertake a survey of roads and streets in all the ten zones for regulating parking of vehicles. Based on the width and utility of the roads and streets, decision on permitting parking on one side or both the sides of the roads would be taken.

"Parking will be strictly prohibited in some stretches based on the results of the survey," he added.

The parking standards specified in the development regulations require that no parking space is required for a dwelling unit with floor area of 25 sqm in Corporation, municipal or IT corridor areas. In Panchayat areas of the CMA, dwelling units with floor area up to 50 sqm are exempted from having parking space.

For floor area more than 75 sqm in Corporation, municipal or IT corridor areas, one car space for every 75 sqm is stipulated. For floor area of above 100 sqm in panchayat areas of the CMA, one car space for every 100 sqm is stipulated.

According to builders, many of the buyers seek more parking spaces for buying apartments at a premium. Many of the dwelling units which are unsold in upcoming projects are those without adequate parking space.

Experts say improving parking standards would improve the scenario, to some extent. But a lot more needs to be done. New stipulations for planning permissions that address the problem of parking spaces may offer a solution. Latest technology for parking more four-wheelers should be brought in such as multi-level car parking. P. Mani Shankar, president of Federation of Housing and Flat Promoters Association, says structural changes can be brought out in old flat by buying the UDS and providing for parking space.

Former Member-Chief Urban Planner of CMDA S. Santhanam, who is currently undertaking research in urban redevelopment, says the roadside parking should not be allowed. "Road is only for pedestrians and vehicles to move. Even street furniture should not be allowed on the roads ."

M. Ravi, Additional Commissioner of Police (Traffic)

Commercial vehicles and buses of educational institutions and IT companies are strictly not allowed to be parked in residential areas or any main road in the city. We have received complaints from many localities that such parking is done in some parts of the city. Private parties must find their own space to park vehicles and action will be taken against violators.

R. Sivakumar, resident of Thiruvalluvar Nagar, Thiruvanmiyur

There are seven main roads and over 50 cross streets in our locality. One can find vehicles parked in all the lanes, as most of the residential complexes do not have sufficient parking space. The roads are definitely not a safe place to park our one?s vehicles. Recently, one of our friends? found his music system missing in his car parked on the road.

M.K. Sundaram, Managing Director, Chozha Foundations and Secretary CIDS - CAG (Constituted by Construction Industry Development Council)

Today, one cannot market a project with one car parking space per flat. The Second Master Plan of the CMDA brought about a lot of changes but the parking norms inside an apartment premise is not practical, especially with regard to the reduced turning radius. Regulations brought in need to be more stringently enforced.

(With inputs from Liffy Thomas, Aloysius Xavier Lopez, Petlee Peter and Meera Srinivasan.)

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