IRSDC prepares first of its kind Codes for Station Redevelopment and Commercial Development on Railway Land

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Redevelopment of Railway Stations is a priority agenda of the Government of India that will transform Railway Station Areas into a ‘Railopolis’ – a mini smart city with mixed-use development where one can live, work, play and ride thus attracting huge investment and business opportunities. These redeveloped stations will provide state-of-the-art amenities to the passengers and enhance their travel experience. 

  • In an endeavour to expedite the development in a mission mode, streamline the processes and improve the ease of doing business. Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd. (IRSDC), the nodal agency for station redevelopment in India, has developed a comprehensive set of handbooks, guidebooks and codes for station redevelopment, including commercial development on Railway land on principles of Transit Oriented Development (TOD)
  • While developing these codes, IRSDC has adopted the Form-Based Codes approach, as per the guidebook issued by the Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs (MoHUA), Government of India.
  • IRSDC is all set to present the first of its path-breaking Codes/ guidebook/ handbook for station redevelopment along with Commercial Development on Railway Land on 19th April 2021 through a national webinar as part of the stakeholder engagement exercise to share these codes and incorporate stakeholder’s views and suggestions for the final document. 
  • Some eminent speakers participating in the national webinar will include CEO, Niti Aayog, Secretary Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Member (Infrastructure), Ministry of Railways, ED Heritage, Ministry of Railways, Railway Board, SK Lohia, MD & CEO, IRSDC, among others.
  • These first-of-its-land codes have been prepared by IRSDC over a period of time after thorough research, feedback from stakeholders and studying global as well as national best practices. 
  • Implementation of these codes will offer multiple benefits such as standardization of planning, implementation and maintenance process, the ease-of-doing process for encouraging public-private partnership, flexibility in asset use for sustainable development. 
  • These codes have been developed with a holistic approach in convergence with other national schemes like Smart Cities/AMRUT, National Transit Oriented Development Policy, Green Building Norms and Affordable Housing.

“The codes for Station redevelopment along with Commercial Development on Railway Land are a comprehensive set of codes/ handbook/ guidebooks prepared over a period of time after thorough research, site studies, the study of best practices, and study of similar national and international codes and tested through sample application on station development works. The codes have been formulated with a vision to standardize planning and implementation across railway stations and railway lands, encouraging public-private partnerships. These codes are now being made public for larger consultation with various stakeholders and the public at large for fine-tuning before adoption for station redevelopment work by IRSDC,” said SK Lohia, MD & CEO, IRSDC.

“These codes are enabling and operationalising the policy/guidelines issued by MoHUA on TOD and Form Based Codes, that will regulate development but are also flexible to encourage design innovation on the railway land to accommodate the city’s growth. The Codes encompass Layout Regulating Plans with more information on “Green Area Structure,” “Mobility network” and ‘Active frontages,’ Property Development Cards for development of Sub-plots, Architectural Design Codes for flexibility in building design. Green Building Codes integrating minimum mandatory green building requirements as per BEE and Codes for Railway Heritage Assets for their conservation. While doing so, codes ensure 24×7 active frontage and eye on the street concept to ensure women and children’s safety,” SK Lohia, MD & CEO, IRSDC further added.

These comprehensive set of Codes, Guidelines and Norms are to plan railway land area on principles of Transit Oriented Development. These codes are compiled as nine documents for ease of comprehension, yet these ensure an integrated application and response. These are in the following six parts:

Handbook for Station Planning:

  • Contains norms, standards & tools for the design of Station Operational Areas. 
  • Document is a guide to be used by all stakeholders involved in the process of Railway Station Redevelopment. 
  • Sets out the approach and methodology for Station Redevelopment, ensuring all desired objectives for the project are met.

Guidebook for Operationalizing National TOD Policy for Railway Station (Re)development:

  • Guides Planning and Value Creation from Station (Re) Development Projects.
  • Contains tools & processes for layout planning within railway land. 
  • Enhances the value of precinct sustainably through strategic restructuring. regeneration of derelict, under-utilized and/or overburdened areas.

Form-Based Codes for Commercial Development of Railway Land:

  • Sub-Plot Development Control Norms. 
  • Codes for Layout Regulating Plans. 
  • Codes for Property Development cards for sub-plots. 
  • A separate Guidebook assists in preparation of station-specific Layout Regulating Plane and Property Development Cards as per ”Form-Based Codes for Commercial Development on Railway Land”.

Codes for Architectural Design of Commercial Assets

  • Contains codes for architectural design of assets within Sub-Plots designated for commercial development. 
  • Follows National Building Codes. As per the recommendation of Chapter-3, NBC2016, norms applicable for Transit-oriented Development have been integrated.
  • Changes are to accommodate Mixed-Use, Mixed-Income development with active frontages and Demand Management-based Parking provision.

Green Building Codes for Commercial Development on Railway Land:

  • Contains minimum, non-negotiable green building requirements recommended by BEE, GOI. 
  • Optimized to meet the recommendations of National TOD Policy. 

Codes for Railway Heritage Asset (RHA):

  • Adopts Niti Aayog’s approach on ‘Improving Heritage Management in India’. 
  • Contains codes, tools & processes for desired response to RHA through conservation, management and maintenance with the intent of continued compatible use and enhancing revenue potential. 
  • A separate guidebook contains all SOPs and checklists for implementation of the codes, in addition a separate document is a compilation of all studies conducted for preparation of the codes for RHA. 

Advantage of these codes: 

  • Standardization of planning, implementation and maintenance process. 
  • Ease of doing business by encouraging PPP. 
  • Flexibility in asset use by making assets responsive to market demand. 
  • Sustainable urban development by reducing pressure on city infrastructure.

Key features of these codes:

  • Layout Regulating Plans are evolved form of layout plans with more information on “Green Area Structure”. “Mobility network” and “Active frontages”. 
  • Property Development Cards are unique sets of minimum mandatory requirements for the development of Sub-Plots. 
  • Architectural Design Codes provides flexibility in building design while prioritizing user safety and comfort. 
  • Green Building Codes integrate minimum mandatory green building requirements as per BEE and other regulatory agencies. 
  • Codes for Railway Heritage Assets provide desired response and controls in conserving Railway Heritage Assets as “Heritage in Continued use”.

Conventional codes in India restrict or control (a) Land use Classification, (b) Area and Height Limitations, (c) Parking Spaces, (d) FAR and Ground Coverage in developments. It results in segregated land uses and longer trip distances. 

Form-Based Codes (FBC), on the other hand, regulate building forms, their relationship with the Urban Environment and the performance of its spaces and features. The advantage of Form-Based Codes (FBC) based development is the flexibility of mixed (land and building) uses, which make development sustainable and market-responsive. Here, compliances are related to construction standards that promote and protect the health, safety and general welfare of the occupant and environment across its life-cycle (100 years), assuming buildings use to change from time to time.

The public consultation national webinar series starting 19th April will culminate on 15th May 2021 with the final adoption of the codes on 28th May 2021 by IRSDC as per feedback received from all the participating stakeholders.

About IRSDC:

  • Indian Railway Stations Development Corporation Ltd. (IRSDC) is a Joint venture company of RLDA, RITES and IRCON. 
  • IRSDC is at the core of Indian Railways mission of transforming the country’s railway stations into world-class 24×7 hubs and is the Nodal Agency and the main Project Development Agency (PDA) for the redevelopment of Railway stations. 
  • With the approval of the Union cabinet it has been given powers to approve its plans under section 11 of the Railway Act 1989 in consultation with the urban local bodies/ other statutory authorities so that the development in railway land is harmonious with the surrounding development generally following the National TOD policy. 
  • IRSDC has so far approved layout and building plans for redevelopment of Habibganj (Bhopal), Gandhinagar Capital (Gujarat), Delhi Safdurjung, Ajni (Nagpur) and Chandigarh stations.

Source: IRSDC-Press Note | Image Credit (representational): IRSDC

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