Transferrable Development Rights and its impact on Densities and Housing supply in Mumbai


  • Husain Vaghjipurwala HafenCity University


Transferrable Development Rights, Financialization, Urban Policy, Density, Housing supply




The concept of Tradable Rights in Land originates in property law as applied to geographical space where land ownership is considered a bundle of rights, the components of which can be treated separately, e.g. Development rights, air rights or mineral rights etc. (Renard, 2007). This allows the formation of a marketplace for the components of Land, in our case development rights, which can be exchanged between landowners/beneficiaries in one geographic area and developers who want to build greater intensities/densities in another. Such Transferrable Development Rights are a shift away from publicly funded, regulatory, and bureaucratic approaches to planning and toward incentive-driven, entrepreneurial placemaking (Linkous 2016)

In the case of Mumbai, such development rights are offered as incentives in terms of extra Floorspace (Floor Space Index) with their values linked to the land values. Such TDRs are increasingly being viewed as a panacea for its urban problems – obtaining land for public purposes, providing housing to slum dwellers, redevelopment of inner-city neighborhoods etc. By aligning its planning goals, which has historically been through a regulation of building heights, with a market led mechanism of FSI and transferable development rights, the city has ensured the financialization of its urban policy.  Issar (Issar 2022) uses archival research and interviews with policy experts to trace this shift, bringing forth its complex implications for urban development and social goals in Mumbai. In a similar vein, Yang and Chang,(Yang and Chang 2018) investigate the impact of such Transferrable development rights in Taipei post 2006, highlighting its effects on the property prices, dispossession and social antagonism.  

This research analyses the interconnected components of the urban policy which are Housing supply, Densities and Transferrable Development Rights, using historical Primary Data on Transfers and building permits (1991 - 2021) obtained from the city authority (MCGM). With the help of GIS and empirical analysis the study exposes the spatial flows and patterns of density (FSI) and housing units across the city. The analysis shows that, contrary to some intentions for the alignment of the city’s planning vision, market led planning has created its own submarket whereby TDRs have been received in areas with an already higher land value and higher built area potential.  As more built-up space is being consumed by ever fewer people, the research demonstrates the geographic signature of the competing aims of a financialized urban policy viz., Decongestion of the city versus adequate housing.


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