New bylaws disappoint developers

Kathmandu

Real estate developers are disappointed with the introduction of the new building bylaws. Developers stated that new criteria for planning, construction and building totally demotivateS and discourags the real estate sector. The government has introduced ‘Fundamental Construction Bylaws on Settlement Development, Urban Planning and Building Construction 2015’ six months after the massive earthquake on April.

Developers, who waited long for the bylaws to launch their new projects, now state that it is not feasible to launch projects following the new criteria. They also accused the government of encouraging the informal sector rather than promoting and constituting a favourable environment for organised housing projects.

“The recently launched Fundamental Construction Bylaws is totally discouraging for real estate developers,” said Minman Shrestha, General Secretary at Nepal Land and Housing Developers’ Association. He further said, “We have been urging the government to crack down on informal construction which is still enjoying 99 per cent of the

whole building construction business without following basic norms and safety measures. However, the new standards encourage the informal sector.”

According to him, the mandatory provision to allocate at least 15 per cent land for road, five per cent open space (not smaller than an area of 80 sq metres with eight metre width), developers can only acquire 25 ropanis land for the project at a time, mandatory road access of eight-metre width for being eligible to acquire a planning permit are not so feasible. Moreover, the bylaws bars buildings exceeding 10 metre height in the project area that has main road

measuring merely six-metre wide.

Shrestha further said, “The government came up without a vision for urban planning. The bylaws are not appropriate as it creates confusion and conveys a negative message to projects that acquire planning permits.” He claimed that with the introduction of the bylaws, the projects with planning permits will dip by 25 per cent this fiscal and that would invite haphazard construction.

The standards set by the Ministry of Urban Development has made it mandatory to maintain setback of 1.5-metre for houses not taller than three storeys from the border of the land plot. While public buildings up to 17-metre high have to leave a minimum setback of three-metre, non-public buildings have to allocate for two-metre setback. The minimum setback for even taller buildings is five metre. Moreover, residential buildings cannot cover more than 70 per cent of land for plots up to 250 square metres and the ceiling is fixed at 60 per cent for larger plots. “As per this provision, it seems that four annas of land is not enough for constructing a house. This will further create confusion among pubic,” said Shrestha.

The guideline makes soil testing and seismic analysis mandatory for constructing all public and private houses taller than three storeys.

Echoing Shrestha, Bijay Rajbhandary, Chairman of CE Constructions said, “We were planning to launch two projects after

the festive season. But now with the introduction of the bylaws, we will hold our projects as the set criteria are not feasible.” According to him, it is not practical to take approval from the cabinet to acquire fallow land.

Rajbhandary further said, “The government has provided emphasis to row housing not taller than three-storeys. However, customers don’t opt for row housing projects.” He also said that they are yet to calculate the cost of the product and its feasibility as customers will have to ultimately bear the overhead cost of roads and open space area.

“The fundamental construction bylaws are minimum criteria to follow while constructing buildings for both urban and rural areas. Previously, there were no guidelines for building construction in rural areas,” said Shiva Hari Sharma, Deputy Director General at Department of Urban Development and Building Construction. He said that the document

will help maintain basic safety measures.

Citing that earlier they lacked proper enforcement of these laws, Sharma assured, “This time, we will implement and enforce this bylaws properly and as the first step we have started to provide orientation to municipalities within the valley.” He opined that following the criteria will assure planned urban settlement and stop haphazard urbanisation.