What’s up with Lahore’s new building regulations? – Prism

The LDA is placing the car in front of the horse and ramming it against Lahore.

In a tweet in March earlier this year, Prime Minister Imran Khan announced that the cities of Pakistan must grow vertically to preserve our green spaces and reduce expansion. Although well intentioned, Khan is not an architect or urban planner. His simplistic vision of how to reduce the expansion in our cities is not a surprise.

Urban expansion is a problem due to its unsustainable consumption of land, extensive and expensive transportation infrastructure, increased use of private vehicles and poor pedestrian experience, all of which ultimately affects public health. One of the methods of reducing expansion may be vertical development, but if it is done in isolation without taking into account the cultural and economic context of a single city, it has the dangerous potential to further widen the gap between the rich and the poor.

High-rise buildings require skill, technical expertise and construction materials that are not always available locally. At a time when the economy is trying to get rid of imports, high-rise buildings are not a solution to our problem. At a time when housing shortages exist primarily in the middle and lower income classes, high-rise buildings run the risk of serving the rich mainly. Like the houses in our closed elite communities, they run the risk of remaining unoccupied, to be used as pawns in the game of real estate speculation.

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The simplest ways to reduce expansion include the redesign of city blocks, particularly in urban centers, keeping them compact and allowing a variety of building typologies and uses within them. Conscious efforts are required to reduce car use, along with significant investments in public transport and pedestrian infrastructure.

This includes taking strict measures to discourage private vehicles in congested urban centers, enforcing the installation of adjoining trails, trees, banks and bus bays along all roads, implementing strict schedules for cargo vehicles, imposing fines and penalties for inadequate parking, providing adequate parking space near traffic stops and having an almost warrior attitude against corridors without signal and road widening.

Wider roads invite a greater number of cars, which in turn demand wider roads; It is a dangerous cycle. In addition, car dependence means that longer distances are traveled in less time, which further encourages cities to expand.

Therefore, in response to the tweets of the prime ministers, what development authorities across the country should have done is to provide comprehensive technical advice on how to combat urban expansion and increase density. Instead, the Lahore Development Authority, for example, prepared its horses and prepared a draft construction statute to reflect exactly what Khan had said in his tweet: vertical development.

The revision of construction standards at this stage is very problematic. First of all, it is important to keep in mind that regulations are a means of implement An official master plan in the city. A master plan is finalized after extensive consultation, data collection and research and stakeholder participation. In Lahore particularly, where multiple departments are involved in the city's development process, a master plan must also address all of the various plans, policies and strategies pertaining to the city.

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Currently, Lahore's master plan is undergoing considerable revisions and is not yet finalized. The afforestation movement in the city, a collaboration between the Commissioners' office, the Lahore Biennial Foundation and the Lahore Conservation Society, raises the need for a formal urban forest policy. The Urban Unit of the Department of Planning and Development is about to officiate the Provincial Space Strategy, which describes the principles that cities must follow for inclusive and equitable development.

All these movements must first be reflected in the master plan, and once the plan is finalized, these can be translated through the construction and zoning standards. However, blind to these parallel movements, the LDA, as the architect Kamil Khan Mumtaz so rightly stated in a seminar, "put the car in front of the horse" and rams in the city with its construction regulations.

This and other concerns were expressed in a "public" seminar held on August 5 at the LDA Sports Complex. I use the word "public" in moderation because the time and day of the seminar, at 11 a.m. On a Monday, it indicates that the authority had no interest in Lahore citizens attending the seminar.

LDA representatives highlighted how fast and uncontrolled commercialization in the city has wreaked havoc on our infrastructure and public spaces. While the concern is precise, I did not find its resolution in its draft construction and zoning standards.

The same concern was also recently raised in a meeting between the LDA and the Urban Unit, where one of the recommendations he gave us was that they incorporate ‘informal street vendor’ as an official category and provide and regulate the space allocated to them. This will not only allow the city to plan in advance the possible "invasion" of these vendors, but also support the large informal economy. The suggestion has also not been reflected in your draft.

The only clause in the LDA regulations that leaves me confused is the amended parking clause. Clause 3.11 of the new document states that a parking space is required for every 1,600 square feet of covered area, while previous regulations called for a parking space for every 1,000 square feet. This indicates that the new regulations aim to reduce the parking area within commercial plots.

However, a later clause – 5.7.9 – provides monetary incentives if the builder provides additional parking on his plot. This makes one wonder what the position of the LDA on parking is. And what was the point of reducing the parking space in the new regulation if they were going to add an incentive to the builder to increase it anyway?

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Some good points in construction and zoning standards include the installation of rainwater collection equipment in all future buildings (clause 5.6.6). However, what the document neglects completely is to apply this clause to golf courses. The golf courses, which have large green spaces, are excellent places for storing stormwater.

In addition, in sections Q to U of clause 3.6.4, the use of insulation for buildings is reiterated. The regulations, however, do not regulate building materials to ensure that they do not absorb heat at a high speed in the first place. Logic asks that builders are first encouraged to use materials that best suit our climate, and then insulation is recommended as an additional feature.

A noteworthy clause – 2.5 – that the LDA has added in its regulations is the allocation of four-story apartments on a plot size as small as 10 marla. Previously, you could not build an apartment on a plot of less than 80 marla. If properly regulated, these apartments can serve as an excellent means to address the housing problem in Lahore.

However, additional incentives are required to encourage builders to focus on meeting the demand for low and middle-income housing. Without such measures, regardless of how well the regulation is intended, the apartments will not be built either; or if it is built, it will not address the housing crisis.

It is important to note that these regulations have nothing to say about the areas under cantonment and the Defense Housing Authority, which are the main contributors to the expansion in Lahore, with the latter rapidly surpassing the border with India.

If the main reason for such an extensive exercise was to address the expansion, and the exercise itself has no impact on the areas that most need such regulation, I can logically conclude that the exercise is useless.

However, I may be wrong. Shortly after this seminar, it was reported that the LDA approved a 40-story building, a hotel, in The Mall. One cannot help wondering if the "public" seminar and the casual revision of the regulations was another exercise to support interests created from a few at the expense of the city of Lahore.


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Source: https://www.dawn.com/news/1506889/whats-up-with-lahores-new-building-regulations

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