Farmhouse policy: THREE’S A CROWD

Dated: 7th December 2013
Source: Hindustan Times
Will the amended farmhouse policy allowing three buildings on a one acre plot put pressure on the creaking infrastructure in Delhi’s green belt?

An amendment to the farmhouse policy passed by the Delhi Development Authority earlier this year states that two dwelling units on lowdensity residential area (LDRA) plots of one acre will be permitted with a floor area ratio (FAR) of 20. An additional dwelling unit will be allowed if an additional FAR of 10 is purchased. This means three independent dwelling units can come up on a one-acre plot with a FAR of 30. A single farmhouse was earlier allowed on a 2.5 acre plot.

DDA had earlier passed the farmhouse policy allowing construction of new country homes on a minimum plot area (what it now calls LDRA) of one acre. Prior to that, minimum plot area allowed was 2.5 acre.

The policy released early this year had stated that “all existing farmhouses in the proposed urban extension area that had come up prior to February 7, 2007, and also those where sanctions had been sought prior to February 7, 2007, but accorded after the date by the regulatory authority, shall be regularised and redesignated as country homes.”

The modification states that “two dwelling units on LDRA plot of one acre may be permitted with FAR of 20 and for additional 10 FAR, ie, from 20 to 30, one additional dwelling unit is allowed subject to payment of requisite charges as approved by the government of India.”

In both instances, FAR excludes basements, balconies, guard rooms, servant rooms, garage, etc. This means that if you are availing of a FAR of 20, you get to create two dwelling units on 8,712 sq ft and if the FAR is 30, you can create three dwelling units on a built-up area of 13,068 sq ft (approximately 4,350 sq ft above the ground and as much below the ground, as FAR excludes basements etc)

The policy already stands notified vide a circular dated September 25, 2013. The circular for regularisation guidellines for existing farmhouses was issued by the authorities through a circular dated October 22, 2013.

Allowing more units will make farmhouses affordable, but what about the pressure on the infrastructure? Experts rule out any pressure, saying that as Delhi is landlocked, basic facilities are strained only in the case of high-density developments. New developments in zones N and L offer immense scope for creation of fresh infrastructure, says Ramesh Menon of Certes Realty Ltd

There are challenges, however, in zone J, which is already populated and where infrastructure has to be retrofitted. There are around 10,000 acres available for new project development in the zone and experts are of the view that an additional 2,500 dwelling units can come up in the area.

Manuj Oberoi of Big Deal Associates says that farmhouses in Chattarpur area under zone J are valued at ` 15 crore per acre to ` 25 crore per acre depending on the location. The one-acre policy allows for a luxury house in the farmhouse area minus the feel of a ‘real’ farmhouse. If more such dwelling units come up in the area, it will populate the area and put pressure on already non-existent infrastructure. Having said that, many people who would have otherwise invested in posh south Delhi localities are putting money in this area because returns are high and circle rates are less.

In zone J very little land is available for fresh development. People in the areas already populated should concentrate on regularising their development instead of redeveloping it, advises an expert.

Contiguous land parcels are available in zones L and N, and as many as 50,000 units can come up on 27,000 acres. The cost of land in zone J today is around ` 10 crore to ` 40 crore per acre, up from ` 3 crore to ` 10 crore in 2007. In zone L land costs have increased to around ` 3 crore to ` 7 crore from ` 1 crore to ` 2 crore. Land available in N zone for less than ` 1 crore costs around ` 2 crore to ` 4 crore today.

Experts point out that permissions for swimming pool, nature therapy, wellness spas, banqueting and recreational space would be available once the formal building development guidelines are issued by the authorities.

Delhi Farms, a specialist organisaton for farmhouses in Delhi, is active in zones L and N. It plans to create its own infrastructure like sewage treatment plants, generate solar energy etc in the gated communities it plans to construct here. Also, since the density will still be around 50 persons per hectare, there is no tenable risk of burdening the infrastructure, says Ajay Dabas, founder of the firm.

“We intend launching products in the sub-`2 crore category in the next six months. We also have plans to launch customised expandable homes. We believe that there is a huge demand for first time farmhouse buyers who have an appetite for products that are in the range of sub ` 5crore,” he says.

Other firms active in the greenbelt areas include Anantaas that has a landbank in areas such as Jhatikra, Kanganheri and Dhansa. Solutrean Building Technologies Ltd has about 20-25 acres in the J zone and plans to come up with organised developments in the area.

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