How the new FSI norms are changing Chennai's skyline?


Vertical high rises which are popular across the world are fast catching up in India as well. The main reason for this is the migrant influx of people from villages to cities, in search of better means of living. The United Nations Population Division projects that by 2050, 66% of the world's population will be urban, up from 54% today. Once population growth is factored in, this amounts to 2.5 billion more people living in cities. The cascading effect is the increasing demand for urban housing and the rise in land costs. Vertical high rises come with a lot of advantages including the fact that in a well-constructed high rise, over 70% of the building can be used.

Chennai too is poised to witness a change in its skyline with the State Government giving the nod to increase the Floor Space Index (FSI) of 0.5. This essentially means an additional increase of thirty-three percent built-up area. This would add impetus to the concept of cluster redevelopment in apartment complexes and residential colonies. Chennai recently surpassed Delhi as the second most-dense city in the country. The announcement to increase FSI has come at a time when there is an urgent need for suitable policies to increase urban housing. The only way to achieve this would have been via vertical growth.

The order to increase FSI has come as a welcome one to decongest the city as going vertical also allows room for more lung spaces and other amenities. As the population increases, resources deplete and sustainability becomes an issue. High rises could therefore be an answer to this issue since the common amenities to meet the requirements of education, recreation, healthcare, and other services would be within walking distance. The added advantages include that rainwater harvesting, re-use of wastewater and capture of solar energy have been made compulsory. Additionally, the order encompasses ease of living for all, making special provisions for the differently-abled, elderly and children. The aim is to efficiently use scarce land to make housing more affordable with sustainability as the key focus.

In Chennai, SPR Highliving has been redefining the Chennai skyline with a range of exciting properties. SPR City is a 63-acre development that is considered Chennai's largest integrated township. "The central idea is to create a 'Vertical City' with luxury residences, parks, a mall, school, offices, commercial center, recreation spaces and more. Being built along the concept of Work-Live-Learn-Play-Commune, SPR City makes all-round living a reality for its residents.", says Mr. Hitesh Kawad, Managing Director, SPR Highliving. Its residential phase, the Highliving District, is a perfect example of urban sophistication and architectural finesse. This ambitious project includes some of the tallest towers ever to dot the Chennai skyline scaling up to 45 floors. Offering spectacular views of the surrounding neighborhood from every apartment, this project will transform the way people of the city live and work by striking a balance between both.


The increase in FSI will also provide immense benefits in the form of redevelopment. Redevelopment is when a real estate developer steps in to reconstruct an existing building after razing it to the ground. With the increase in FSI, the same plot of land can now have an increased number of apartments and owners stand to gain from the additional square feet. The developer also stands to gain from the increased area through construction of additional residential and commercial spaces.

The most important aspect of the FSI order is that the rules have been simplified so as to encourage self-compliance. Additional advantages include the removal of minimum plot requirement, plot frontage requirement and plot coverage. Reduced plot size will greatly benefit those seeking affordable housing as plan sanctions and institutional finance will be much more accessible to the weaker sections of society. Affordable housing is defined as a dwelling unit with 40 square meters in Chennai Metropolitan Area and 60 square meters in the rest of the State. As per the revised guidelines, there is an FSI increase for road width as well in the range of 30% to 50%.

A highlight of the FSI announcement is that all rules pertaining to planning and building permit for construction and layout have been brought under a single document and these rules are applicable to the entire State except hill areas. Compulsory inspections at the plinth level and the last story level ensure that deviation from the approved plan does not occur.

The next logical step towards urban planning would therefore be the creation of humane ecological urban environments of an entirely new kind: vertical cities which provide maximum living spaces with the smallest possible footprint. In that respect, SPR Highliving has taken a step in the right direction by coming up with SPR City, a project that is all set to alter the city's skyline forever.

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