The revision of the Detailed Area Plan (DAP) which brought about seven changes, including an increase in the floor area ratio (FAR) for housing projects, has sparked intense debate and concern among urban planners.
The Housing and Public Works Ministry issued a gazette notification on Sunday, officially implementing the revised DAP for three years. FAR is the ratio of a building's total floor area to the size of the land it occupies.
Urban planners have raised a critical concern regarding the recent revision of the DAP, emphasising that compromising to pressure from influential individuals and housing developers poses a significant threat to the overall quality of life in Dhaka city. In response to the mounting demands from these influential stakeholders, certain concessions have been granted, compromising the livability of Dhaka.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Institute for Planning and Development (IPD), an organisation composed of urban planning experts, expressed profound apprehension over the DAP revision.
They also called for the immediate cancellation of the gazette notification associated with the amended DAP.
In the statement, IPD's Executive Director Professor Adil Muhammad Khan highlights that the notification has indeed been issued, altering the DAP by relaxing the floor height limits for building construction within housing projects. "This relaxation has been enacted without due regard for the city's overall habitability and sustainability," he opined.
The statement underscores that the revision of the DAP without consulting urban planners and the working committee, in response to pressure from certain vested interests, notably realtors, raises doubts about the state and government's dedication to fostering sustainable urban environments.
Furthermore, it highlights that this amendment was ratified at a time when the issue of Dhaka's habitability had been brought into the public eye once more, following severe flooding in the city after just a few hours of rainfall a few days prior.
According to the revised DAP, 50% of the open space (playgrounds, parks, gardens) designated for block-based development areas can now be reserved for the residents of that block.
In unplanned areas like Badda, Demra, Rayerbazar, Khilkhet, Uttarkhan, and Dakkhinkhan, owners of 5-khata plots can now construct six-story buildings if the road is at least 16 feet wide, but this has been increased to eight stories with a 12-foot road.
In designated residential zones such as Uttara, Mirpur, Dhanmondi, Banani, and Bashundhara, the current DAP permits nine-story buildings on 5-katha plots with a road width of at least 25 feet. With the revised DAP, the maximum height has been extended to 10 stories. However, if the road exceeds 60 feet in width, landowners can build up to 12-story structures.
In the case of block-based development, landowners will receive a 20% incentive for blocks ranging from 1 bigha to 6 bigha, and a 30% incentive for blocks exceeding 15 bigha. This incentive allows for greater height or width in new buildings compared to previous regulations, provided that 40% of the total land area of the block is preserved as open space, which includes parks, playgrounds, and green areas.
Adil Muhammad Khan, the Director of the IPD, emphasises that prior to the revision of the DAP, the FARs at both the area and block levels were already significantly higher in comparison to global planning standards.
He stresses the critical importance of development control as an essential measure to safeguard the future of Dhaka. In light of this, it became imperative for the government to maintain its commitment to implementing the DAP, regardless of any pressure from vested interests.