Tamil Nadu Combined Development and Building Rules, 2019: An Overview

Be familiar with basic rules and regulations

The need to be familiar with some basic rules and regulations governing development or construction cannot be overstated for all those who may intend to own a house, buy land, modify their house, or undertake any development or construction activity. It should be borne in mind that before starting any development or construction activities—whether it’s building a house, subdividing land, constructing an apartment building, or modifying an existing house—it is necessary to obtain written permission from the competent authority. This is mandated by law.

Simplifying the Rules

In Tamil Nadu, things were particularly confusing until recently. Different localities, from bustling Chennai to rural villages, had their own set of rules—a labyrinth for anyone wanting to develop or construct. Understanding which rules are applicable to your specific location used to be a daunting task. Also, these rules were scattered across various government orders from many departments. Different localities such as panchayats, municipalities, and corporations had their own sets of regulations. This variation made it difficult for an ordinary person to determine which rules applied to their area. Often, one had to rely on professionals or agents for guidance, which might not fully answer all doubts. Even visiting the concerned offices might not provide clear answers.

Thankfully, the Tamil Nadu government introduced a solution in 2019: the Tamil Nadu Combined Development and Building Rules, 2019 (TNCDBR).

The Reference Book for Development and Building Rules

TNCDBR is now the one reference book on all matters connected with development and building rules. It streamlines the development process by consolidating all the existing regulations into a single, comprehensive document. This eliminates the confusion caused by area-specific rules and scattered instructions, ensuring consistent regulations across the entire state (excluding cantonment areas). Anyone can access and download it from the CMDA’s or Corpotation’s website.The link is given here: http://Tamil Nadu Combined Development and Building Rulses

What is meant by “Development” in the Language of these Rules

The definition of “Development” according to these rules shall have the same meaning as defined in Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act, 1971.

According to that Act:

“Development” means the carrying out of all or any of the works contemplated in a regional plan, master plan, detailed development plan or a new town development plan prepared under this Act, and shall include the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, or over or under land, or the making of any material change in the use of any building or land: Provided that for the purposes of this Act, the following operations or uses of land shall not be deemed to involve development of the land, that is to say:

(a) the carrying out of any temporary works for the maintenance, improvement or other alteration of any building, being works which do not materially affect the external appearance of the building;

(b) the carrying out by a local authority of any temporary works required for the maintenance or improvement of a road, or works carried out on land within the boundaries of the road;

(c) the carrying out by a local authority or statutory undertaker of any temporary works for the purpose of inspecting, repairing or renewing any sewers, mains, pipes, cables or other apparatus, including the breaking open of any street or other land for that purpose;

(d) the use of any building or other land within the curtilage of a dwelling house for any purpose incidental to the enjoyment of the dwelling house as such; and

(e) the use of any land for the purpose of agriculture, gardening or forest (including afforestation) and the use for any purpose specified in this clause of this proviso of any building occupied together with the land so used;

The Role of Professionals

While the TNCDBR makes it easier to understand the rules, the help of a professional is always necessary when planning to develop or construct. However, before consulting with a professional, it is beneficial to have an idea of the requirements for your project.

Major Changes in Plan Parameters

Under these rules, the development regulations have introduced a set of updated planning parameters for both residential and commercial buildings, taking into account primarily the height of the structure. The buildings have been classified into high-rise and non-high-rise buildings. These planning parameters include factors such as minimum road width, floor space index (FSI), setback spaces, etc.

Classifications of Buildings

One of the key aspects of the TNCDBR is the classification of buildings into high-rise and non-high-rise categories:

  • High-Rise Buildings: Buildings that are taller and require specific regulations for safety and construction.
  • Non-High-Rise Buildings: Standard buildings with fewer floors and simpler construction requirements.

Increased Floor Space Index (FSI)

The significant update in the TNCDBR is the increase of the Floor Space Index (FSI) to 2. This change allows for more floor space to be built on a given plot of land, facilitating denser and potentially more cost-effective development. For more detailed information on FSI and setback spaces, road width etc. refer to the dedicated articles on these topics.


The TNCDBR starts with a set of definitions for all terminologies used in construction and development activities. Referring to the rules whenever necessary will help in understanding them better.


The rules specify the activities for which they are applicable:

  1. All Developments: Including redevelopments, erection, re-erection, design, construction, reconstruction, and additions or alterations to a building.
  2. Part Construction: Where a building is partially demolished, altered, or reconstructed, the rules apply to the extent of the work involved.
  3. Change of Use or Occupancy: When the use of a building changes, the rules apply to all parts of the building affected by the change.
  4. Reconstruction: When a building ceases to exist due to fire, natural collapse, or demolition declared unsafe, reconstruction is allowed subject to these rules.

Nothing in these rules requires the removal, alteration, or abandonment of the lawful use or occupancy of any existing approved building.

Written Permission

Rule 4 of the TNCDBR emphasizes the need for written permission:

  • No person shall carry out any development or construction without the written permission of the competent authority. This permission may include an electronic version issued with the digital signature of the competent authority.
  • Obtaining site approval or permission for any development/construction does not absolve the applicant from fulfilling their responsibilities to get clearance or permission under other Acts and Rules, if required.

Planning Permit and Building Permit

It is important to note that planning permission is different from a building permit:

  • Planning Permission: Required before any development can commence. It ensures that the proposed development complies with the land use designated in the Master Plan or Detailed Development Plan (DDP) and the Development Regulations.
  • Building Permit: Only if planning permission is obtained can one apply for a building permit. This means that layout of lands, subdivision of land, and reconstitution of land are part of planning permission. Only if the planning permission is granted can one apply for a building permit.

Competent Authorities

The TNCDBR details who the competent authorities are for granting planning permission in the Chennai Metropolitan Area and other areas, as well as who can grant building permits.

Manner of Obtaining Permission and Plan Parameters

The rules also cover the manner of obtaining permission and the various plan parameters. We intend to write articles on all the important aspects of these rules. So, stay tuned.

பொறுப்பு துறப்பு:இந்தக் கட்டுரையில் உள்ள விவரங்கள், கல்வி மற்றும் தகவல் நோக்கங்களுக்காக மட்டுமே. இது சட்ட ஆலோசனை அல்லது நிதி ஆலோசனைக்காக தரப்படவில்லை. இதில் உள்ள தகவல்களை அடிப்படையாகக் கொண்டு எந்த முடிவுகளையும் எடுப்பதற்கு முன்பு, வாசகர்கள் தங்கள் சொந்த சுதந்திரமான ஆராய்ச்சியை மேற்கொள்ளவும், நிபுணர்களுடன் கலந்தாலோசிக்கவும் அறிவுறுத்தப்படுகிறார்கள்.-Ed

Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be legal or financial advice. Readers are advised to do their own independent research and consult with professionals before making any decisions based on the information in this article-Edit


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