Could New Bylaws Solve the Housing Crisis?

KARACHI: The Capital Development Authority (CDA) has decided to loosen red tape restrictions on city developments. With the new amendments, new housing societies that struggled to comply with rigid CDA bylaws are optimistic that they can acquire the legal status designated by the authority. So, could this be the springboard for addressing the growing housing shortage?

Analysts at Lamudi are hopeful but remain realistic that although some leeway has been given, there are many complicated hoops that developers are expected to jump through to bring a housing project to the market. A developer still needs to include a public park, education and health facilities, a graveyard, community center, and a masjid. The sting in the tail of these requirements is that if a developer has no option to buy more land how is he expected to offer open spaces? It might even be a case that he has the luxury of converting some land into a park, but that would delay the project by several years while the area grows into a viable public space.

Developers are collaborating

In an attempt to counteract the need to tick various CDA boxes, developers are working together to provide facilities that can be used by neighboring housing societies. A graveyard can be shared among a number of developers, and it might be the case that the CDA need to soften a little more to allow for communal use open spaces not necessarily just one for each project.

Development plans will need to change in the future to incorporate enough land for use as open spaces and educational facilities. This might seem easy on paper, but if you are a developer of affordable housing projects your margins will be small, and you if you are required to sacrifice several potential units to attach a graveyard the project becomes unviable.

Unobtainable goals

One of the many pitfalls is the width of the streets and boulevards are too small. How exactly, you might ask is a developer to address this without the help of the local government? Again, focusing on the difficulties faced by low-cost housing developers adding the cost of widening streets could easily tip the project into not viable.

CDA gives with one hand takes with the other

It seems that the new bylaws will include a fine of PKR 5,000,000 for developers who fail to meet the criteria for a legal development. This fine is enough to scare off many developers who have ambitions to address the housing shortage. While this may appear to offer a light at the end of the tunnel for developers, there is still a long road ahead to make the business landscape more accessible for developers at every end of the market. The country has a housing shortfall of an estimated 8.3 million units according to the Business Recorder. Every citizen rich or poor has the right to a decent place to live, and these bylaws are a step in the right direction.


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