Explainer: How do you get your building plan approved in Chennai?

Building permit and plan approval

under construction building
Each category of building has different sets of approval to be obtained before construction can begin. Pic: Pixabay

An increase in Floor Space Index along metro and transport corridors in Chennai could well see an accelerated increase in the number of high rises in the city and a boom in real estate prices. The city is expected to see more horizontal and vertical growth in the coming years. Any construction in the city must have planning permits and building plan approval failing which it would be deemed illegal.

Here is a handy guide on all you need to know about obtaining the requisite permissions and approvals in Chennai for various categories of construction.

Authority for approval of building plan

The Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority (CMDA) regulates developments in Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) through the issue of Planning Permission under section 49 of the Tamil Nadu Town and Country Planning Act 1971. The permission is valid for three years from the date of issue.

CMDA has delegated powers to the local bodies within the CMA for approving planning permission for ordinary buildings and buildings under normally permissible categories of Industrial, Residential, Institutional and Commercial use zones and also sub-divisions & small layouts. The CMDA directly issues planning permissions to major developments like Special Buildings, Group Developments and other High Rise Buildings under special sanction for which powers are not delegated to local bodies.

While all planning permission applications have to be submitted online, applications of buildings other than high rise buildings, that are to be spread across 5,000 sq ft, will be processed in the concerned Zonal Offices and for buildings with area between 5,000 sq ft and 10,000 sq ft, the applications will be processed in Headquarters of the Works Department.

Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA)

Chennai, the capital City of Tamil Nadu is the fourth largest Metropolitan City in India. The Chennai Metropolitan Area (CMA) comprises the city of Chennai, 8 Municipalities, 11 Town Panchayats and 179 Village Panchayats in 10 Panchayat Unions which covers a total extent of 1189 Sq.km. 

The CMA falls in three districts – Chennai district, part of Thiruvallur district, and part of Kancheepuram district. The extent of the Chennai district (covered in Chennai Municipal Corporation area) is 176 sq.km and comprises 55 revenue villages in five Taluks – (i) Fort-Tondiarpet Taluk, (ii) Perambur-Purasawalkam Taluk, (iii) Egmore-Nungambakkam Taluk, (iv) Mambalam-Guindy Taluk and (v) Mylapore-Triplicane Taluk]. Ambattur, Thiruvallur, Ponneri and Poonamallee taluks in Thiruvallur district and Tambaram, Sriperumbudur and Chengalpattu Taluks in Kancheepuram fall under CMA jurisdiction.


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Applying for planning and building permits

The process illustrated below is followed in Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) and a similar process is followed by other approval agencies.

Two categories of applications have been prescribed. Form ‘A’ for laying out of lands for building purposes, Form ‘B’ & Form ‘C’ an undertaking from the applicant/owner. Applications can be obtained from the office of CMDA or from the respective local bodies. 

The applicant has to register in the citizen portal of the local body. The details of the site for which the planning permission and building permit is required is to be submitted in the application form. 

screenshot of Chennai corporation citizen portal login webpage
Registration must be done at citizen portal of local body.

The applicant also selects the registered architects / Registered Engineer, which enables the application details to be forwarded to the Registered Architect / Registered Engineer to prepare the drawings and submit the planning permission and building permit application for approval

The registration made by the applicant for the approval of planning permission and building permit application will be forwarded to the selected Registered Architect / Registered Engineer portal for further process. The Registered Architect / Registered Engineer upon receipt of the request made by the applicant shall make a site visit, collect all the documents from the applicant, prepare the drawing, submit it online for auto scrutiny to ensure compliance with Development Regulations / Building Rules.

The Registered Architect / Registered Engineer shall enter the registration details, inspection document details and Auto-DCR details online. The application fee is to be paid online by the Registered Architect / Registered Engineer for the admission of the application. 

The application submitted by the Registered Architect / Registered Engineer will be assigned a unique application number against which all the documents submitted online will be received in the Assistant Executive Engineer’s (AEE) portal for further processing. The AEE shall make a site visit within 7 days from the date of receipt of application by selecting a date on the portal, which will also be intimated to the Licensed Surveyor and applicant through SMS and e-mail. 

During inspection, the plan submitted online is verified for the following:

1. Site boundary measurements

2. Access to the public road

3. Measurement of the road width

4. Surroundings of the plot to ascertain whether the plot abuts any drains, channels, water bodies etc.

5. Zoning of Land

After making the site visit on the scheduled date, the AEE shall submit the inspection report within 48 hours of site inspection online, which can be viewed by the applicant and Registered Architect / Registered Engineer.

After site inspection, the documents enclosed online are verified by the AEE. If the plan and information furnished by the applicant do not provide all the particulars necessary to process the application satisfactorily, the AEE within 15 days from the date of receipt of plans or application requires the production of such further particulars and details as it deems necessary. The message will be sent through SMS and email. The applicant or Registered Architect / Registered Engineer shall upload the requested documents online within 15 days from the date of such request, else the application shall be processed with the available documents. 

If the documents enclosed are sufficient for approval, the planning permission (if applicable) and building permit application shall be submitted for approval to the Executive Engineer (EE).

If any further clarification / documents are required by the EE the application will be sent back to the AEE through the portal.

On receipt of the intimation for documents/clarification sought, the AEE shall appraise the applicant of the requirements. After receipt of the documents / clarification from the applicant or Registered Architect / Registered Engineer, the application will be submitted to the EE for approval.

If the documents and plan satisfy the requirement of the EE, the application will be approved online and the “Demand Advice” is generated. SMS and e-mail are sent to the applicant requesting to make the payment either online or by way of the Demand Draft. 

The applicant shall make the payment online 

The AEE verifies the payment done by the applicant and forwards the application to the Executive Engineer

The EE approves the fees verified 

The EE generates the final building permit online. The applicant will be informed of the approval through SMS and e-mail. Applicants will be able to download the certificate online.


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Types of buildings that require appoval

The various categories of buildings are as follows: 

  • Residential –  Stilt + 3 floors / Ground floor + two floors with 16 dwelling units up to a height of 12 metres with 10,000 Sq.ft area.
  • Commercial – Stilt + 3 floors / Ground floor + two Floors up to a height of 12 metres with maximum built up area of 300 sq.m
  • Industries as [cottage industry/ green industry/ orange industry] – Maximum height of 18.30 metres with unlimited built-up area. 
  • Institutional  – Maximum height of 18.30 metres with unlimited built up area.
  • High Rise buildings – all buildings exceeding 18.30 metres height

Enclosures needed for building plan approval 

For non-high rise building not exceeding 18.3m in height 

1. Application for permission for building in Form-B as per Annexure-II of TNCDBR, 2019 duly filled in.

2. Form of undertaking in Form-C as per Annexure-III of TNCDBR, 2019 duly filled in.

3. Copy of documents (sale deed/lease deed/power of attorney) self-attested by the applicant.

Note: Additionally, in case of unapproved sub-division, copies of documents including connected parent documents must be provided. In case of urban areas (corporation, municipality, town panchayat), documents involving transactions since 1.1.1980 must be provided.

4. Affidavit of undertaking specifying the following in case of lands bearing survey number other than Town Survey Number:

(i) No Government / poromboke land involved;

(ii) No land acquisition proposed by any Govt. Department;

(iii) Site not covered under Land Ceiling Act, 1978;

(iv) Site not covered under Land Reforms Act, 1961;

5. Copy of revenue records viz., Field Measurement Book (FMB) / Town Survey sketch, Patta, ‘A’ Register copy, Permanent Land Record (PLR) / Town Survey Land Record (TSLR) in owners’ name

6. Up to date Encumbrance Certificate (EC) in original obtained not prior to 30 days from the date of submitting application. Additionally, in case of unapproved sub-division: For urban areas (corporation, municipality, town panchayat): EC’s having transactions since 1.1.1980 must be submitted

7. FMB / Town Survey sketch, Adangal / ‘A’ register extract / TSLR for the access road for at least 250 m length abutting the site, in case if the site lies in a corporation area or for at least 100 m length abutting the site in case other areas.

Note: In the event of sub-division for qualifying road not being incorporated in the FMB sketch in case of urban local bodies, road width certificate about ownership, maintenance, type, width of access road for the length as specified above should be obtained from the Executive Officer, Town Panchayat or Commissioner.

8. NOC from the Railways department must be obtained, if the site lies within a distance of 30m from Railway property boundary.

9. NOC from TANGEDCO must be obtained, if permission is sought for construction of buildings violating the buffer norms for LT and HT power lines as given in item 5(1) & 5(2) inAnnexure-XVII as per rule 19 of TNCDBR.

10. For construction of building within 30 m radius from the boundary of burial / cremation ground, an affidavit of undertaking about the availability of a piped water supply facility.

11. An affidavit of undertaking about actual availability of underground drainage facility when seeking exemption from providing sewage treatment plants (STP).

12. No structure can be permitted within a distance of 500 m from the boundary of a quarry / stone crusher. However, if the quarry / stone crusher is claimed as abandoned, a certificate from the local body or licensing authority to that effect.

13. Legal opinion (in original) on the land ownership by Government Pleader/ Additional Government Pleader/ Special Government Pleader/ Government Advocate/ Public Prosecutor/Advocate on panel of a local body/ Advocate on panel of any Nationalized Bank.

14. Affidavit of undertaking by the applicant about the ownership of land clearly stating the document-wise extent of each survey number of land.

15. Name, Registration Number of the registered professional to be engaged for the project along with a copy of registration certificate. Registered professional to be engaged for the project:

(a) For buildings up to 12 m height and not exceeding 16 dwelling units or small developments like commercial, nursery schools, primary schools, and cottage industries up to 300 Sq.mt. – Registered Architect (RA) or Registered Engineer (RE).

(b) For buildings exceeding 12.0 m but within 18.3 m height – Registered Developer (RD), Registered Architect (RA) or Registered Engineer (RE), Registered Structural Engineer (RSE), Registered Construction Engineer (RCE) and Registered Geotechnical Engineer.

16. NOC from Fire Service department only in case of public buildings as defined under section 2(33) of the T&CP Act, commercial complex / mall, cinema theatre, kalyana mandapam, community hall, all category of industries and warehouses, commercial buildings where explosives, fire crackers and other similar inflammable materials are handled or traded.

17. Key plan as prescribed in Rule 8(1)(i) of TNCDBR, 2019, Topo plan as prescribed in Rule 8(1)(ii) of TNCDBR, 2019, Site plan as prescribed in Rule 8(1)(iii) of TNCDBR, 2019, Building plan as prescribed in Rule 8(1)(iv) of TNCDBR, 2019, Rainwater harvesting provisions as prescribed in the Annexure–XXII of TNCDBR, 2019, Solar energy capture provisions prescribed as per regulations given in Rule 44 of TNCDBR, 2019

18. NOC from the authority concerned, if the site lies in:

(i) Regulated area as notified by ASI;

(ii) Area under sterilized zone of nuclear installation area;

(iii) Coastal Regulation Zone;

(iv) Civil Aviation and Defence area regulation zone;

19. If the site lies in the area falling under the purview of Hill Area Conservation Authority (HACA), then following shall also be submitted:

(i) NOC from the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests

(ii) NOC from the Chief Engineer (Agricultural Engineering)

(iii) NOC from Assistant Director/ Deputy Director of Geology and Mining department of the respective district.

(iv) Site inspection remarks and specific recommendation of the District Collector.

(v) Contour plan of the site

20. Project Report Detailing the raw materials used, process of manufacturing, number of employees and HP requirement in case of Industries

21. Copy of Property Tax or vacant land tax receipt (latest)

In addition to the above mentioned items, approvals for high rise buildings and industries require further documentation. The exhaustive list can be found here.

Completion Certificate for services

For all buildings except residential building up to 12m in height not exceeding 3 dwelling units or 750 sq.m and all type of Industrial buildings, the Applicant or Owner or Power of Attorney Holder or Registered Developer and any other person who is acquiring interest must submit a completion report to obtain Completion Certificate from the competent authority that has issued Planning Permit. This is to certify that the building has been completed as per the approved plan. Service connections such as electric power connection, water supply sewerage connection will be given by the service provider to these buildings only after the production of the Completion Certificate.

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About Shobana Radhakrishnan 20 Articles
Shobana Radhakrishnan is a Senior Reporter at Citizen Matters. Before moving to Chennai in 2022, she reported for the national daily, The New Indian Express (TNIE), from Madurai. During her stint at TNIE, she did detailed ground reports on the plight of migrant workers and the sorry-state of public libraries in addition to covering the renowned Jallikattu, Tamil Nadu Assembly Elections (2021) and Rural Local Body Polls (2019-2020). Shobana has a Masters degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from the Pondicherry Central University and a Bachelors in English Literature. She keenly follows the impact of development on vulnerable groups.