Mumbai’s new Development Plan (DP) 2034 was recently unveiled with a lot of fanfare. The Maharashtra government expected to win over a huge swathe of the city’s population with sweeping upgrades to the previous Development Plan of 1991. To a large extent, on paper the DP 2034 looks grand in scale and scope, and if effectively implemented will change the landscape of the financial capital of India to rival that of London or New York. What are these changes and what can the real estate sector and the city expect from DP 2034?
1) Availability of Large Land Parcels
The DP 2034 will unlock a stunning 3700 hectares of land which were previously untouchable since they were No Development Zones (NDZs) and salt pans. The BMC has earmarked 2100 hectares of NDZ and 330 hectares of salt pan land for developing affordable housing.
2) Boost to Affordable Housing
The PM’s pet project of ‘Housing for All’ will receive a massive boost in Mumbai. With additional, hitherto, unused land available for fresh development, the government aims to create 1 million affordable homes. This is good news for many developers as well who have been looking for opportunities to enter the now lucrative affordable housing segment.
3) Increase in FSI
One of the biggest attractions of the new DP 2034 is the increased FSI. It has been released under two categories - one for the island city and one for the suburbs. In the island city, FSI has been raised from 1.33 to 3 for residential developments, while in the suburbs it has increased to 2.5 from 2. Commercial developments in the island city as well as suburbs will benefit from the increased FSI of 5, raised from the earlier 2.5.
4) Huge Opportunity for Redevelopment
The bump in the FSI which is more significant in the island city, offers tremendous opportunities to monetise old, dilapidated buildings and housing societies under redevelopment. This is particularly lucrative when one considers there are more than 16,000 old, dilapidated buildings in Mumbai. Furthermore, according to the DP planners, the additional FSI will translate to one additional room for each flat owner of redeveloped housing societies.
5) Creation of More Jobs
The new DP has the potential to create 8 million new job opportunities in Mumbai directly through the construction and real estate businesses and indirectly too. Increasing FSI for commercial buildings upto 5, means more office space to attract more businesses and jobs to Mumbai. Data centres have also been allotted height of 6 metres which enables creation of more data centres and hence more employment.
6) Walk to Work Culture
The increase in FSI for commercial buildings is a boost to creating more CBDs across the city and suburbs. This will subsequently decongest existing CBDs and introduce walk to work culture in more locations. Mumbaikars can, thus, deservedly enjoy better work-life balance.
7) Development of Mumbai Waterfront
Mumbai DP 2034 also unlocks development of 120 hectares of the Eastern Waterfront which will be done through PPP. This will further enhance the per capita open space ratio of the island city and boost waterfront development - a long-held Mumbai dream - of retail, commercial, entertainment and hospitality projects similar to London’s redeveloped Canary Wharf business district.
8) More Green Lungs for Mumbai
Mumbai is seizing up under increased levels of pollution, traffic congestion and very dissatisfactory ratio of open spaces per person. The new DP envisages creating more parks, playgrounds and theme gardens around the city. 12,859 hectares of natural spaces have been delineated and no new construction will be allowed. The Aarey Milk Colony will be largely preserved from construction activity, except for the new metro car shed and a zoo. This ensures the major green lungs of the city will receive a boost and our citizens breathe better air.
9) Creation of Multi-Faceted Civic Amenities
Under the new DP, the BMC envisages creating theatres, museums, old age homes and shelters for the homeless. The BMC has also proposed two major parking spaces of 300 acres each, near Cuffe Parade and Bombay Port Trust. This is long overdue for the traditional business district of the city.
While the response to the new DP 2034 has been largely positive and created an excitement among the immediate beneficiaries, they are some glaring misses or unaddressed aspects of the city planning in the DP. These are:
The DP lacks any plans to address traffic, public transport and rising pollution levels of Mumbai which could worsen due to development in NDZs. Activists have expressed dismay at the use of salt pan land which could worsen the flood situation in the city, which has been seen to be worsening each year.
The DP 1991 was also viewed positively, however, only 20% of what the DP envisaged could be achieved. The 2034 could meet the same or worse fate. To avoid this, there is need for a monitoring body to ensure effective implementation of the DP.
There are fears of overcrowding and consequent health issues emerging from the increased FSI. Higher density of population per square foot will only serve to congest the city further, thus nullifying the impact of more green spaces and amenities.
With the increased FSI and availability of more land many blindly expect a rationalisation in prices. But this is possible only if the government doesn’t levy a higher premium cost for the FSI on the developers who will in turn pass the cost on to the customers.
Development costs in Mumbai have always been high and are a major contributor to the final cost of realty. If these costs stay as high as they are, it will affect the correction in prices and consequently any expectation of Mumbai housing becoming more affordable to the common man.
Various civic bodies, activists, and residents of Mumbai have 60 days from the unveiling of the Development Plan 2034 to make suggestions. The previous DP saw numerous amendments, so it will not be a surprise to see many now as well. One hopes that this new plan, with or without its amendments, will enhance the quality of life in Mumbai and make the city more livable for many future generations to come.