Economy Jan 15, 2013
In order to ensure efficient land use in Delhi's most coveted zipcode, private property owners inLutyens' Bungalow Zone - which is dominated by government houses- may now be allowed to add a basement level to their existing homes while large plots owned by senior politicians t may be bulldozed and cut into smaller plots to make way for more such houses, an Economic Times report said today.
The residential heart of New Delhi is known as Lutyens' Bungalow Zone (LBZ) after Sir Edwin Lutyens, New Delhi's master architect. The zone hosts whitewashed bungalows amid rolling lawns surrounded by tall trees. However, New Delhi's most expensive residential zone is for the benefit of a tiny elite - politicians and senior bureaucrats with a select class of business tycoons. It hosts the official residences of the President of India, the Prime Minister and all other Union ministers, members of Parliament, senior members of the judiciary, high-ranking officers of the armed forces and the civil services, as well as senior bureaucrats of the Central and Delhi governments.
The old bungalows are spread over three to four acres of land with large tracts being used as lawns and gardens.
Of the 11,000 bungalows in Lutyens' Bungalow Zone, only 65 are privately owned.
Industry observers say that the high demand for an elite address in the city and extremely limited availability have sent prices spiralling in Lutyens Delhi.
"The historical significance of the area has been the backbone of its enduring popularity. The scarcity of properties available on outright sale, coupled with the consistently high demand for such properties, has ensured that the prices remain extremely high despite market fluctuations in other areas. Residential property in any of the areas in Lutyens' Delhi sells at around Rs 3-4 lakh per square yard, with variations dictated by exact location and unit area," Santosh Kumar, CEO - Operations, Jones Lang LaSalle India, told Firstpost.
Little wonder then that the highest bid for 38, Amrita Shergill Marg, built over 3,450 square yards, was Rs 165 crore in an ongoing auction last year. New to the rich list are Sudhir and Samir Mehta of Torrent Pharma, who paid Rs 111 crore for a 1,124 sq yard plot in Chanakyapuri. The deal valued the land at over Rs 10,00,000 per square yard, a record.
And clearly the new changes in building norms will only add more to the novelty tag.
As per the existing rules, houses here could only have external dimensions and expand horizontally, but not vertically, which is why no new construction has taken place. According to this Business Line story, any construction in the LBZ needs clearance from the Prime Minister's Office and the Delhi Urban Arts Commission.
The new plan is aimed at relaxing this rule and will pave the way to raze the old for the new, which has been hanging fire for a long time.
Perhaps the government has finally decided to use the additional, vacant space for construction of new bungalows.
"We want an efficient use of land in the Lutyens Zone without changing the footprint, without changing the height and the character of the area. One option is to go underground," a government official is quoted as saying by ET.
In December, the urban development ministry informed the Lok Sabha that a survey conducted in 2001-2002 had found that 487 bungalows in the LBZ were structurally unsafe, of which 29 bungalows were in a very precarious condition. Some of these buildings are as old as 75 years and are now showing signs of age.
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