Building and Planning Regulations in Sri Lanka

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Introduction to Law and Regulation Framework

This coursework report describes under law and regulatory framework. From this assignment aims to provide a study about building regulations, planning regulations in Srilanka. This report provides regards to the ongoing project at Villa Garden, Albert Crescent, Colombo 07. Project scenario The building known as Villa Garden, Albert Crescent, Colombo 07, has been refurbished and currently provides office space. However, the Developer has realized they made a mistake increatingoffices and now want to use the space as recreational accommodation. I.e. convert the buildingintoapproximately twenty serviced short stay apartments. TheDeveloper has asked us to give him initial advice on the processes which will be required to obtain planning permission for the proposal. Part-A Physical planning law is the law, which made for control and regulate building activities in the Srilanka. Local government and Urban Development Authority’s have the responsibility to implement this law in Srilanka. Town and country planning law(no.49 of 1946) was the law which controlled and regulated the building activities in the past. According to town and country planning law act no 49 of 2000. The Town & Country Planning (Amendment) Act, No. 49 of 2000 was approved by the Parliament and received the official sanction over establishing of National Physical Planning Department to replace the former Town & the County Planning Department And also Urban Development Authority of Srilanka One of the main responsible authority for building activities in urban areas. The UDA was established from parliament act no 48 of 1978 with intension to promote planning and implementation of economic, physical and social developments of the areas which declared by the authority.And our subject site area which situated on Albert Crescent, Colombo 07 also area which declared as an Urban area from the act no 41 of 1978. Due to that this building needs UDA approval. Urban development authority has provided their legal implements to land and building development by relevant acts. As shown in the following,

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  • In 1990 Town and country planning act
  • In 2007 CDM regulations
  • In 2000 Building regulations
  • In 1980 building act
  • In 2008 planning act

And also By-laws, the rules and regulations enacted by an association or a corporation to provide a framework to control its own activities. Or laws which made by local governments. This building situated in Colombo-7, and then Colombo municipal council bylaws also applied for this building development. The main law which statutes for governs municipal councils is Municipal Council Ordinance (29 of 1947). Any new development or all other developments with additions and alterations to existing building are required to get a building approval as per the City of Colombo Development Plan (Amendment) 2008, City of Colombo Development Plan 1999. And this is an office complex building which already built so now developer wants to build it as a residential building it means this building needs to convert as an apartment. So this building development should gain approvals from condominium management authority. Apartment ownership law and condominium property law are the main laws which affects for this kind of apartment developments. Laws considered by the condominium management authority. Condominium Management Laws in Srilanka.

  • Apartment Ownership Law No: 11 of 1973
  • Apartment Ownership (Amendment) Act. No: 45 of 1982
  • Common Amenities Board (Amendment) Act. No: 46 of 1982
  • Apartment Ownership (Special Provisions) Act No: 4 of 1999
  • Apartment Ownership (Special Provisions) (Amendment) Act No: 27 of 2002
  • Apartment Ownership (Amendment) Act No: 39 of 2003
  • Common Amenities Board Law No: 10 of 1973
  • Common Amenities Board (Amendment) Act No: 24 of 2003

Before commencement of the construction developer should submit relevant documents and gain approvals from Urban Development Authority (UDA), Colombo Municipal Council (CMC), and condominium management authority (CMC). In Srilanka town and country planning/physical planning law Audinane is the main law for building regulations. However, this relevant area gazette as an urban area, according to No 41 of 1978. Due to that these building legal processes happen according to UDA requirements. When it comes to building regulations in UK. Town and country planning, process control over the development of all land (including buildings) in England and Wales, it is an administrative process deriving from the Town and Country Planning Act 1947. But now there are three main acts on the subject. Town and Country planning act -1990, Planning act-1990 and Town and Country plan order-2008. Are the main relevant regulations, regulates the building process in the UK. In UK building regulations, there are fourteen specific documents/ approvals Named as A to p. For building approval and control process. As follows

  • A – Structure
  • B – Fire safety
  • C – Site preparation, resistance to contaminates and moisture
  • D – Toxic substances
  • E – Resistance to the passage of sound
  • F – Ventilation
  • G – Hygiene
  • H – Drainage and waste disposal
  • J – Fuel storage systems
  • K – Protection from falling, collision and impact
  • L -Conservation of fuel and power
  • M – Access and use of building
  • N – Glazing
  • P – Electrical safety

Each part/document named as ‘Approved Document’, it contains practical and technical guidance on requirements can be met in common building events Under UK law department of local government and communities and relevant local authorities are responsible for change in use or the extension process of a building. In the UK this Town and Country planning process implements by Local authorities and Department of Local Authorities and communities. From this planning regulations they are expected to, do planning’s of development programs, to control and regulate the development activities in the country and to do preservations and conservations to buildings. From this whole planning regulations, acts and laws, governments or relevant authorities expect to do their building activities more efficiency and accuracy. This planning permission regulations and this process provide guidance to control the use of land and buildings and to protect the public interest. As we have discussed in before from this planning process provides guidance and control development activities of a country. So then what is, development can define as the carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operation in, on or under land or the making of any material change in the use of any building or other land (Camden, 2000). Section 54A of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 And we can divide developed into two basic as

  1. Operational development

Carrying out of operations (that is to say, building, mining, engineering or other operations) or some physical alteration to the land or building work or internal works. Section 55 of the 1990 Act contains quite a list of operations and uses which do not amount to development.

  1. The making of material change in the use of land (including buildings on land)

From this they concern about if their change of activities from it use. Section 55 (3) of the 1990 Act specifically states about change in the use of a building. According to planning acts, planning permission required to carry out any king of a development. Therefore developer must obtain required approvals before commencing the development. Therefore developer can submit the required applications to relevant authorities like COLOMBO Municipal council, condominium management authority and urban development Authority. And more importantly, this building must gain approval from COLOMBO Municipal council and urban development Authority otherwise this building can consider as an unauthorized construction. That contractor needs to gain permission residential building. To get required permissions developer needs to submit these documents.

  1. Land surveying plan
  2. Design plan
  3. Layout plans, according to requirements of UDA.

Relevant condominium property law and their planning permission According to our project scenario, this building already made office complex. Now the developer wants to convert it into an apartment building. So then the developer should obtain permission from the condominium management authority. In Srilanka main act for condominium management is an Apartment Ownership Act No 11 of 1973. According to act to gain approval from condominium management developer should follow these steps

  • Condominium plan to the Colombo Municipal Council as per the bylaws of the CMC.

Due to Bylaws of Colombo municipal council developer also need approvals from CMC.

  • After that developer should obtain planning permission from the condominium management authority.

Condominium Management Authority (CMA) has the responsibility and the power to control, management, maintenance, and administration of the condominium property, and semi condominium property. Registration of condominium plan is compulsory so the developer must submit these relevant documents.

  • Condominium plan
  • Condominium declaration deed
  • Detailing apartment numbers
  • Common elements
  • Certificate from qualified civil/structural engineer

Legal issues, documentation issues, etc. we can identify through this process. If there any issues or doubts with process developer can follow these steps.

  • Firstly, it’s better to inform about development and get advices from officers of CMC. During this developer may need to submit a title deed of it.
  • And developer must submit Design plans, Land survey plan and Land layout plan required and more importantly, these documents must prepare and certify by qualified professionals.

After submitting documents to CMC. They will consult their planning committee (this consists with Planning officers of the UDA, Mayor or deep. Mayor or commissioner and members of municipal council.) After this development process should obtain approvals from UDA. This approval from UDA will granted by the planning officers of the UDA at the planning committee in CMC. And this building going to change their use to an apartment building due to that developer after gaining approvals from CMC AND UDA. Also needs to gain approvals from condominium management authority. Part-B Introduction to Building Regulations. The Building Regulations are legislation approved by Parliament that relate to standards of design and building work for the construction of domestic, commercial and industrial buildings. The building regulations contain a list of requirements that are designed to ensure the health and safety of people in around the building. Under UK context, these laws implement as regulations for High rise buildings.

  • Planning Act 2008 (economic infrastructure of buildings)
  • Town and country planning (general permitted development) Order 2008 “This law is governed by extension of buildings and houses and alteration etc”.
  • Planning (listed buildings and conservation areas) Act 1990

In srilankan context, this kind of matter will regulate according to UDA regulations and according to their procedure. According to the UDA regulations, extension of a building regulate under Regulation NO 10. The developer must gain approval under that. This planning procedure must be submitted under Section 8J of the Law for the 1982 UDA (Amendment) Act No. 4 the developer must obtain preliminary planning clearance certificate letter from UDA. After gaining planning clearance certificate letter developer can only commence the design work on the building.

  • After the preparation of plans (drawings) contractor/developer should obtain development permit to start construction or to do any other development to building. This site are declared as an urban area, according to UDA act and this area also situated in a Colombo Municipal council area due to that during this development permit gaining process. Both UDA and CMC requirements needs to consider. This process implemented by CMC planning commitie, required documents needs to submit to them. To gain this development permit, the developer must Proof the ownership of land/property and submit certificates from qualified persons As mentioned in gazette notification no392/2 of 1986 should certify the application. Applications can obtain from the western province, division and provincial officers UDA As charge for this service needs to pay.
  • Residential Rs. 2240/- (Including VAT)
  • Subdivision of Land Depends on the area of the Land
  • Commercial Rs.5, 600/- (Including VAT)

After submitting required documents and application this process will take 15 working days to give a feedback from authority. And importantly, this process will require these supporting documents also

  • Supporting documents required
  1. A copy of the Survey Plan of the Land
  2. Application Duly Filled
  3. A rough sketch of the route to access the land
  4. Documents requested by UDA depending on the requirement
  5. Land surveying plan
  6. Design plan
  7. Layout plans, according to the urban development authority And also all the plans and documents must be prepared by a qualified person such as charted engineers, architects act. There for developer must obtain approval for the land survey plan and building plans. Otherwise the structure may be called unauthorized structure. To obtain permission for a development permit and a primary clearance certificate, the contractor must submit primary clearance certificate, the architectural plans which certified by a qualified Chartered Architect or an Architectural Licentiate. Certificate of conformity(COC) cannot gain until above mention documents are obtained. As mentioned in Regulation 67 of Gazette No. 392/9 – 1986 and Schedule V of Gazette No. 1597/8 – 2009 to get a certificate of conformity required documents mentioned as follows,.

  • A certificate from a charted architect that constructions are done under his supervision or approved by him.
  • A Certificate from Charted Civil Engineer, structural works carried out under his supervision with approved documents.
  • A Certificate from Charted Electrical, Sanitary, Refrigeration Engineer all Services installed under supervision of them, and according to pre approved plans and H&S requirements.

According to regulation 4 all the plans and documents must prepare by qualified person, all documents needs to signed by the owner of the site or premises before submission and must submitted in three copies. And according to Regulation 6, this building to be built as a 20 storey apartment building due to that this building can be assumed as a Large Building because of that all the plans must draw under scale of 1:1200. According to our scenario, this is fifteen 15 storey apartment building. And also according to regulation 8 building consider as a High rise building. According to regulation high rise(CATEGORY A type) building means buildings are which more than four floors without ground floor (G+4&ABOVE). And also according to UDA regulation no 7 this building considers as an Apartment building. Because this building going to use as residential building So during any type of legal activity this building considered as an apartment building. As mentioned before this building will be considered as a high rise building. According to UDA regulations, there are certain requirements needs to be considered during the building process. As follows. According to regulation 27 (1), from this regulation, they mention about what is the required plot size of a high rise building.

  • Maximum height of the high rise building, according urban development authority regulation 29 (1).

And according to UDA regulation 30(2) Rear space requirement for High rise buildings. And according to UDA regulation 27(1) minimum frontage for a High rise Building is 20m.

  • According to UDA regulation 30 (2) mention about what is the required back space from a building.
  • And also this kind of a building must consider about access for disabled people, disabled ramps, toilets for disabled people, lifts, staircases, verandas act according to supreme court order Supreme Court order SC (FR) 221/2009.
  • Also, according to UDA regulation 45 (1) and 45 (2) rooms in a building must provided with natural light and ventilation options, windows, doors or any other approved method should provide for this.

And according to UDA regulation no 38. Clearly mention about clearance distances from electric lines according to regulation high rise building (G+4) needs to maintain 2.5m from lines. And as we discussed before, commencing any sort of development before developer must obtain a development permit. According to UDA regulation 12 they clearly mentioned developer can’t carry any sort of a development activity contravention of the development permit. The development permit can be revoked due to these reasons, according to regulation 122 as follows.

  • IF developer breach conditions of a permit.
  • A contravention of the provision of these regulations.
  • A misrepresentation of facts in the application. Plans or other documents submitted by the applicant.
  • If the developer fails to submit plans and other particulars according to requirements(Reg 9).

And also according to regulation no 11 in certain situations if developments permit refuse to issue by authority within 30 days. The party who aggrieved by the decision can notice to the minister to get a decision on it. From these regulations, we can identify what are the requirements needs to consider during this conversion and how these regulations impact on the project. And also beyond these regulations, there are certain requirements for health & safety on a site, according to section 6 of the Factories Ordinance, 1942, it is an obligatory for employe to ensure safety of the worker. According to, ordinance people who involve with injurious substances must needs to provide with safety equipments. (Sections 32, 51, 53 & 58 of Factories Ordinance). According to section 6 employer can’t use below 18 employers to work on a machine until he gets a good training. Reference. Books.

  • Blackhall, J, 2000. Planning law and practice. 2nd Ed. London: Cavendish.
  • Polley, s, 2008. Understanding the building regulations. 4th Ed. London: Taylor & Francis Ltd.

Web sites

  • Bury Council. 2012. Planning and Building Regulations. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 01 April 15].
  • Colombo Municipal Council. 2012. Development Permit / Planning Clearence. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 01 April 15].
  • Condominium Management Authority. 2009. Condominium Management Laws. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 01 April 15].
  • Government Information Service. 2011. Obtaining Preliminary Planning Clearance for Change of Use. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 01 April 15].
  • Urban Development Authority – Sri Lanka. 2011. UDA Acts & Amendments. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 01 April 15].


  • City of Colombo Development Plan (Amendment) 2008
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Building and Planning Regulations in Sri Lanka. (2017, Jun 26). Retrieved July 2, 2022 , from

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