Home / Politics / Policy /  Spatial plans to play key role from 2014 in urban renewal projects

New Delhi: The government will consider spatial development plans before clearing projects under the second phase of its flagship mission on urban renewal starting from 2014, two officials aware of the matter said.

This means city authorities will have to justify projects based on their impact on a comprehensive, spatial view of the city.

Indian cities are divided into zones according to their land use, such as residential zones, commercial zones and mixed land use zones. But spatial development plans are thought to be more comprehensive as they consider not just the city, but the adjoining region and its impact on the region.

In addition, unlike bulky master plans that have little visual content, spatial plans are easier for citizens to understand and engage with because there are plans at every level—it is easier to engage with citizens at a ward level than at the city or regional level.

The new requirement marks a departure from the first phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), under which planners drafted city development plans focused on zoning to receive support for urban infrastructure projects. The JNNURM began in 2005 and focused on urban reforms and planned urban development. A central committee under the urban development ministry sanctioned projects related to urban transport, water supply and sewage, among other centrally sponsored schemes.

One of the officials quoted above said, “The funding for the making of these plans will also be provided by the urban development ministry."

Now, Bengaluru-based Jana Urban Space Foundation, a not-for-profit working on urban planning, has laid down the national urban spatial planning design (NUSPD) guidelines—submitted to the government in April—based on which spatial plans will be developed by cities, said the official on condition of anonymity.

Spatial development has six layers: economy; mobility and networked infrastructure; affordable housing; social infrastructure; heritage; environment protection and disaster zones.

Giving an example, Swati Ramanathan, chairperson of the Jana Urban Space Foundation, said that while conventional city planning talks about where a metro rail project should come up, a spatial plan “will also say what growth impetus the metro project will provide for the city and how the metro plan will be linked to land use and boost the economic activity of the city".

“It will be a blueprint for the city in terms of social infrastructure too. Planning for healthcare and schools, among other things, will be a part of it and once a project is sanctioned, it will become embedded in it. It will be easy to bring about any development project," Ramanathan said.

Ramanathan said spatial planning is at three stages—a regional development plan, a city plan and then a neighbourhood plan. “Cities with a population of more than 10 million—like Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata—need regional plans. But smaller cities need only two levels of planning." The guidelines say there needs to be a link between regional and neighbourhood plans and timelines for planning and revision processes.

“The most pressing challenges of urban growth will be in the 468 cities and their surrounding regions. Tackling the spatial implications of the growth of these 468 cities will impact the quality of life of 70% of the current urban residents, and the future of an additional 225 million that will become urban residents," the guidelines add.

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