Home Articles Computerisation of Development Plans and Associate Information Using GIS

Computerisation of Development Plans and Associate Information Using GIS

Dr. Smita Sengupta
Geosoft Topographics India Pvt. Ltd.
Khar (W), Mumbai 400 052, India

The urban planning is a complex phenomenon, which require enormous amount of data to support the decision. The local authority requires an information system, which will be able to monitor, surveillance, the planning regulations and will work as early warning system. The application of GIS in the planning and management is very common in the local authorities in developed countries but in developing countries very few local authorities have invested in GIS. It is mainly due to the high cost and lack of support from the higher management level. In this paper an attempt has been made to customise GIS for development monitoring at the local authority level.

In the state of Maharashtra it is obligatory for all local authorities to prepare a Development Plan for the entire area within its jurisdiction. The preparation of this Development Plan goes through various stages and data are obtained from the field survey as stipulated in the Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act. But unfortunately all these plans are hand drawn so take lot of time for the modification and retrieval. These maps are extensively referred in the Development Control Regulation. The process of Development Control Regulation also become time consuming due to the manual process adopted in this case. All these Development Plans can be digitised and GIS can be customised for the for the purpose of controlling and monitoring development by gathering and updating data, managing database suitable for GIS application and developing user interface and customised application. This will help different department to use the database, which has been developed for the development monitoring which will make the activities of the local authorities faster and economic.

Introduction The planning is the process of thinking through and implementing a set of appropriate actions to active some goal. In the present day, in developed countries planning has moved from the rigid master-plan style to one where a number of alternatives are put forward for public debate and are analysed against a set of often conflicting goal and objectives. This leads in turn to a more flexible, strategic planning framework with monitoring and feedback enabling changes to be made to the preferred planning programme. On the other hand in the developing countries where urban centres are growing in size and measurable complexity, many countries can not or will not mobilise resources to deal with their problems in time. The local authorities of most major towns in developing countries faces problems as regard to development direction thus creating difficulties for decision making process. Characteristically, the goals pursued in the process of urban development are extremely varied. Decisions, which are taken with regard to the built environment, as well as with regard to health, education and welfare of population, have effects of very long duration. There is a public interest in amenity, environmental preservation, general health and welfare, and the interests of future generations, which is not adequately pursued by private actions, especially as this conflict in their objectives. Plans and planners are often lacking imaginative or unconventional approaches to these problems, and the results seem to embody less knowledge than is available for informing decision-making.

In this juncture it is required to give conceived information system which can serve as the eyes and ears of planning process. It provides for the monitoring and surveillance of compliance with planning regulations and it serves as early warning system with regard to friction and sources of shortfalls in the process of urban planning and management. Information is therefore needed at local authority level to facilitate administrative procedures, policy planning and plan implementation. Also, advent of corporate planning and continued squeeze on local authority expenditure required local authorities to examine critically whether rational decisions are undertaken.

It is clear that development at the local level involve a lot of policies and implementation decisions, which have to consider the cost and benefit to every level of urban dwellers. Given the wide range of activities, over the years, the local authorities have amassed a huge amount of information. A substantial portion of these information is geographical in nature such as layout of housing schemes, road and drainage systems, composition and distribution of population, distribution of land use and so forth. Unfortunately, these data are often inaccessible even to the local administrators. The main reason being the database management system, which is, based on manual filing system which makes retrieval of data difficult and time consuming. To ease this problem, a number of authorities employ computer database system in their organisation. While some of these systems help tremendously in information retrieval and analysis they do not handle data very well. Thus jobs assigned to the system are quite limited to routine retrieval. Given the dynamic nature of planning and management carried out at local level, it is not surprising that local authorities become one of the largest users of GIS in advanced and developed countries. But in developing countries very few local authorities have invested in GIS. The reluctance of local authorities to accept the challenge to embrace the technology is due mainly to lack of support from the management level, the lack of in-house expertise with which to make use of the system and the high cost of GIS. On the other hand, the local authorities particularly of major towns are now faced with increasingly complex urban problems and inevitably urban planners and managers have to come up with better solutions.

In this paper an attempt has been made to understand the procedure of the preparation of the Development Plan by the Local Authorities, their present use and a suggestion for the computerising them for the better use mainly in the Development Control procedures.

Development Plans of Local Authority – Process And Procedure
In the state of Maharashtra under the provisions of the Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act, 1966, it is obligatory on every local authority to prepare a Development Plan for the entire area within its jurisdiction within a stipulated time. The main work includes:

  • The preparation of the base map of the town;
  • The preparation of the Existing Landuse map:
  • To carry out civic survey for the town.

After the preparation of Proposed Development Plan the local authority published a notification in the Maharashtra Govt. Gazette (as required under Section 26 of the Act) asking for the suggestion from the public. The Authority modifies the Plan considering the suggestions and objections received from the members of public. This process is time consuming as all the maps are hand drawn and modification of them takes lot of time. The Proposed Development Plan is then submitted to the Government and Government then again issues a Public notification. The Approved Development Plan is prepared only after the changes made as per the modification recommended by the Government .The Development Plan is required to be sanctioned by the Government not later than one year from the date of receipt of such plan from the Planning authority.

As per the Bombay Town Planning Act, 1954 (replaced in Jan 11,1967, as Maharashtra Regional & Town Planning Act, 1966) for the preparation of the sound based Development Plan survey should be carried out under the following heads:

  • Physical condition: This includes information about physiography, climate, and relative location of the town in relation to other big towns and to the village surrounding it. Probable sources of water supply, housing condition, accessibility, and suitability of the site for new development. The estimate the probable location of growth and indicate the desirable direction of city&rsquos growth.
  • Population: The growth and occupation of population are studied based on last census. In a growing town an attempt has also been made to indicate the predominant character of the town by analysing the occupation group. In case of decling towns causes have been identified and infrastructure development has been proposed to stop migration. Projection of population for next ten years in which period Development Plan will not be revised has also been estimated to accommodate the ultimate population without any deterioration in the existing condition of population density. Population density by ward has been calculated under heading of number of inhabited rooms in each floor and number of children and adults.
  • Housing: In case of housing data structural condition, sanitation-adequacy of the open spaces around the house, standard of ventilation, nature of sanitary conveniences provided etc. have been surveyed with the help of prepared questionnaire. The predominant use of the building is also surveyed. This survey has helped to find out insanitary and unhealthy areas, slums, areas becoming absolate, areas of recent growth, existing use zones in the city etc. Detailed survey has been done in the city centre region.
  • Communications: In the communication data the width of the existing road, traffic conditions in detail have been collected. The layout of proposed diversions have been drawn and the cost of widening the existing has been calculated.
  • Public Buildings, Education & Health services The location of the existing schools, hospitals and nursing homes have been marked. The new infrastructure have been proposed and identified in the plan.
  • Open spaces: The existing open space i.e. parks and gardens have been identified and their adequacy has been analysed and new location has been marked. After this extensive survey and analysis the Proposed development Plan was prepared. The zoning method has been used and mixed landuse has been discouraged in the Plan. There is proposal for the clearance of slums, improvement of existing roads, schools, hospitals, parks and playgrounds, theatres and provisions of new ones. The final Development Plan includes written report; three main maps i.e. Index map (not smaller than 1″ to 1mile. Including surrounding areas including roads), Town map (not smaller than 800’: 1″ and preferably 200’:1″ in case of small towns showing all proposals) and Detail map (50’:1″, to know the location of each property and how it is affected by the future development), and required graphs and charts. The Section 38 of the same Act provides a statutory tool for a periodical revision of the sanctioned Development Plan. The Local Authority in the initial stage has collected huge amount of both spatial and attributes data. But due to the manual handling but most of them are not easily accessible to the public and the organisation. If handled with scientific approach with the use of computer and specially GIS this will help to speed up the organisation procedure and in some cases will help to generate some finance for the authority.

Development Control of Local Authority – Process and Procedure
In the context of urban planning, after the preparation of the Development Plan in most cases the function of the local authorities are based on grants or refusal of planning permission for development. The local authority is empowered to grant or refuse any proposal of planning application in its area. . Generally applications are accompanied by a development proposal report, which include a written statement and a plan to describe present condition of the land to which the application relates; and describes the proposed development. So, a development proposal report generally include the following major aspects:

  • Key Location plan
  • Site Plan Building plan and layout plan
  • Ownership title
  • Clearance certificate of all tax arrears
  • Property register card

The maps shall have to be standard drawing size and follow the prescribed colour notation scheme. The report will then have to be verified by local authority concerned. The report together with other considerations will be used as a basis for aiming decision. After satisfying with the submitted information, Construction Certificate is issued for construction up to plinth level (valid for 4 years). In these cases only to ascertain the status of a plot in the Development Plan, the Town Planning Department takes 45-60 days. As the applicant only supply a hand drawn parcel lay out with survey number, obtained from the land Records Office. The scale of the parcel map is different from the Development Plan so the manual checking is obviously timed taken.

The Use of GIS for Planning and Management of Development Control
In the light of tremendous pressure of rapid development in urban areas it necessary to have an information system which not only keep and display data pertaining to planning application for the purpose of administrative functions but it should also be designed facilitate planning at strategic level (Fig.1). The development control involves the process of analysing the appropriateness of planning application requires various data from relevant agencies. A planning application will be assessed in terms of current development scenario, land information, planning requirements and planning design. The application will not only be reviewed in terms of basic utilities (access, water supply, sewerage and telecommunication) but also public facilities (availability of public transport, educational facilities, and recreational facility and safety factor).

In most cases the present landuse of a towns rarely follows the strict regulations of the Development Plan so in case of planning and management of development information will have to be updated continuously. So, the implementation of GIS for the purpose of controlling and monitoring development involved following stages, i.e.:

  • Data gathering and updating
  • Development of GIS database
  • Development of user interface
  • Application of GIS database

The GIS database should include the following information:

  • Landuse according to the Development Plan
  • Existing landuse
  • Building categories
  • Land ownership
  • Building height
  • Development status
  • Building status

Customisation GIS for Development Monitoring
The design of GIS for development monitoring can be developed and customised based on planning requirements to facilitate data retrieval and analysis. These customised plans are suitable to be used by planners in giving out advice, in monitoring development procedures, in analysing the feasibility of proposed development and making decision. The addition of the existing landuse is essential as most of the Development plans are formulated more than 10 years back. In the big town it is essential to identify encroachments in the Reserved plots because eviction of these encroachment is time consuming and in some cases economically not viable for the future development. Application of GIS will help to develop a Geo-reference system of the Development Plans. This Geo-referenced data will be is immensely helpful in the regional and national perspective.

One of the most important functions of this GIS is that many departments can use the database that has been developed for the purpose of development monitoring. It will be useful for the documentation of the old plans, which are often required for both the administrative and research purposes. This can also be used as reference point in evaluating and deciding on the urban growth management programmes in a more cost-effective manner. This study demonstrates how information required by the decision-makers can be displayed. Further study needs to be done to develop decision support system to evaluate the suitability of a planning application. Developing such system should however take into account the organisational issue namely, commitment from all levels of staff including technical, managerial as well as decision makers and expertise to develop and maintain the system.

CIDCO (1995): General Development Control Regulations for Navi Mumbai – 1975 (as amended upto 21st Sept. 1994), CIDCO, Mumbai

Directorate of Town Planning (1972): Manual on Development Plan Vol. II B, Town Planning and Valuation Dept., Maharashtra, Pune.

Directorate of Town Planning (1986): Jejuri Development Plan (Revised), Jejuri Municipal Council, Jejuri, Pune