Current Planning Parameters for Development Control

It is recognized that the Chennai urban area displays some signs of insufficient strategic planning, primarily due to the reactive nature of the planning process which has focused on controlling development rather than leading and guiding development. In general, the urban form and design that currently exists, has been the outcome of the ideas of individual developers on individual projects with little reference to the principles of good urban design and integration with the surrounding existing or future urban fabric. The main objectives of prescribing rules for development control are: 

  • Control density 
  • Minimize negative impacts which may be created over the adjoining properties such as noise, vibration and to provide privacy 
  • Control and regulate traffic generation 
  • Optimum utilization of available and planned infrastructure
Instead of having too many parameters, it is suggested that the following minimum number of parameters would serve the purpose: 
  • Minimum road width 
  • Setbacks 
  • Maximum permissible area or FSI 
  • Maximum permissible coverage 
  • Maximum height 
  • Parking standards
To understand these types of controls, it is important to recognize the design objectives, design principles and design guidelines. Objectives are statements of what a design is to achieve. The objectives of an urban design scheme are inevitably a mixture of economic, behavioral and aesthetic ends. Principles are statements describing and explaining the links between a desired design objective and a pattern or layout of the environment. The set of design principles used repetitively by a designer is loosely called that person’s style. A guideline is a statement, which specifies (for uninformed people) how to meet a design objective. They are also known as design directives. A guideline is an operational definition of an objective. There are two types of guidelines: prescriptive and performance oriented. 

Performance oriented guidelines are essentially the same as design objectives, prescriptive guidelines are based on design principles and are as good or as bad as those principles. With prescriptive guidelines the designer of the guidelines works out what kind of pattern is required of the built environment. In performance guidelines it is left to the designer of the individual components of the urban design scheme to do. Design based on prescriptive guidelines is easier to evaluate; performance guidelines, while encouraging divergent thinking, require considerably more effort to ensure that the objectives are actually met. Guidelines are frequently used not simply to inform designers but as design controls. Design controls in cities are always shaped by the invisible web of law specifying individual and communal rights, the nature of the market place and the allowable mechanisms for interfering in the market place on behalf of perceptions of the public interest. As such it complements the capital web of investment policies used by governments to shape the environment. Urban design controls reform aspects of both webs. 

Future Orientation and Planning Principles for Development Plan 

Unlike the conventional two dimensional zoning plans, which tend simply to define areas of use, density standards and access arrangements, the development plan must establish three dimensional frameworks of buildings and public spaces and create more sophisticated visual models. A city is an assemblage of buildings and streets, system of communication and utilities, places of work, transportation, leisure and meeting places. The process of arranging these elements both functionally and beautifully is the essence of urban design. The vision of the development plan must fulfill the following essential needs: 
  • Allow understanding of what the public spaces between buildings will be like before they are built 
  • Show how the streets, squares and open spaces of a neighborhood are to be connected 
  • Defines the heights, massing and bulk of the buildings but not the architectural style or detailed design 
  • Control the relationship between the buildings and public spaces to maximize street frontage and reduce large areas of blank walls 
  • Determine the distribution of uses, and if these uses should be accessible at street level 
  • Control the network of movement patterns for people moving on foot, cycle, car or public transport 
  • Identify location of street furniture, lighting, landscaping, monuments, etc. 
  • Allow understanding and visualization of how a new or enhanced urban neighborhood is integrated with the surrounding urban context and natural environment 
The following aspects need to be considered to arrive at the basis for policies affecting the urban fabric 
  • Areas of significance in built environment 
  • Visual integration of the city 
  • Policy for tall buildings 
  • Policy on unhindered access movement, parking and pedestrian realm 
  • Policy on hoardings, street furniture and signage 
  • Urban design scheme 
  • Policy for design of pedestrian realm 
  • City structure plan and urban design objective



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