8 Things to Follow to Get Your House Plan Approved by the Municipal Council

To construct a building in Sri Lanka, you need to have your plans approved by the relevant Municipal Council. The plans drawn should abide by the Urban Development Authority (UDA) laws and the property purchased should be registered with the Land Registry. Here there are several steps to be followed. The following is a breakdown of some of the most important stages of designing and getting your plan approved. 

Suitability of a site

While you have the right to select any type of land to construct your building in, the UDA law specifies the type of land that can be used for construction. According to this, construction cannot be done in;

  1. A site that has been filled with any material infused with fecal, animal, or vegetable matter unless the material has been removed and the site has been cleared completely or the entire ground surface has been deemed harmless and covered with a layer of earth or any other suitable material at least thirty centimeters thick.
  2. A site prone to flooding until the level of the ground covered by the development or building is raised thirty centimeters above the site’s highest known flood level and beyond it for a distance of three meters all around or to the site’s boundary, whichever is closer.

Registering your land at the Land Registry

After purchasing land for construction, to claim ownership for it and have legal evidence to prove your ownership, it needs to be registered under your name in the Land Registry. The process however, may take some time. The following documents are required for the Notary public to inspect prior to drafting the relevant deed.

  • The original deed
  • Duly attested survey plan

Who can submit documents for registration?

  • Any person executing the document
  • Any person claiming any interest or benefit thereunder
  • Any person having any interest in or charge on any property affected thereby
  • The agent of any such person or an attorney-at-law or notary acting on behalf any such person; letter of authority should be submit if the agent of any such person is presented document for registration

Documents should be presented to the relevant Land Registry where the land is situated. Land or movable property situated in more districts than one may be presented for registration to the Registrar General. The document could be submitted in either of the following manners:

a. Being submitted through post

b. Being submitted by authorized person

c. Being submitted through a notary/ legal firms

Building classification 

According to the Sri Lankan law, the regulations set by the authority should be followed even when drawing plans. For this purpose, the buildings have been categorized according to the number of floors and square meters.

Building classificationNo. of Floors/ Sq.m
Category A5 or more floors (including ground floor)
15 meters above adjoining street
Category BNot more than 4 floors (including ground floor) – Includes a basement
Roof span exceeding 10m
Wind sensitive building
Any others not covered under Category A and C
Category CType 1
Residential purpose building not exceeding 500 sq.m

Residential purpose building not exceeding 300 sq.m (Doesn’t fall under Category B)

Type 2
Residential purpose building not exceeding 400 sq.m (Doesn’t fall under Category B)

Non-residential purpose building not exceeding 200 sq.m (Doesn’t fall under Category B)

Type 3
Residential purpose building not exceeding 200 sq.m (Not covered under Category B)

Non-residential purpose building not exceeding 100 sq.m (Not covered under Category B)

Based on the above categorization of the buildings, the structural plans to be submitted and the requirements specified by the law are different. 

  • Prior to the start of any building work on any building other than those in type 3 of category C, an application must present complete structural designs as well as the proposed building’s design calculations. A qualified person must sign such a plan.
  • Detailed structural plans for Category A, B and C (Type 1 & 2), should consist of; 

A statement describing the overlying load for which each floor system or part thereof has been designed. 

  • Results of any soil tests
  • Type/s of foundations recommended to be used
  • Where any air conditioning or mechanical system is to be installed in a building or part thereof, or where any such system is to be extended or altered, a qualified person shall submit the layout and detailed plans of the installation, extension, or alteration to be carried out, along with information pertaining to capacities, to the Authority for approval.
  • Service plans prepared and signed by a qualified person related to water supply, sewage, drainage and rainwater harvesting. 
  • Submit plans prepared and signed by a qualified person related to electricity for Category C (Type 1& 2). 

Documents to be submitted when obtaining approval for a house

The full list of documents to be submitted for obtaining an approval for a house can be found from here

Documents to be submitted when obtaining building approval for an apartment

  1. Nine (09) copies of building plans should be submitted along with the building application and clearances/documents mentioned below (if applicable). Development Permit will be issued under the name of the owner/s with three (03) copies of approved plan. 

i. Number of building plan copies 

(a) For office record ( 1 copy) 

(b) Municipal Assessor (1 copy

(c) Urban Development Authority ( 1 copy) 

(d) Presidential Security Range (PSR) (2 copies) if within the high security zones,

(e) Director Engineering (Traffic) ( 1 copies) If the Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA) is not required, as per the schedule III, (regulation 34) in Volume II of the City of Colombo Development Plan (CCDP) 1999. 

(f) Owner (3 copies) (All copies should be submitted to the City Planning Division, CMC)

ii Clearances/ documents (if applicable). 

1. Ownership Certificate / Confirmation, boundary confirmation obtained within 03 months. 

2. Clearance regarding the underground storm water and foul sewer obtained within 02 years. 

3. Clearance regarding the underground water lines. 

4. Street line & Building line certificate issued after 2009. 

5. Clearance for low lands, canals & drainage reservations. 

6. Coast Conservation Clearance. 

7. Civil Aviation Authority Clearance 

8. Central Environmental Authority Clearance. 

9. Condominium Management Clearance. 

10. Urban Development Authority Clearances. 

11. Clearances for other reservations. 

12. Clearance for historic and architecturally valuable buildings 

13. Clearance for high tension electrical lines. 

14. Fire Clearance. 

15. Solid Waste Management Clearance. 

16. Security Clearance. 

17. Boundary Confirmation for the survey plan( from Assessors Dept. ) 

(d) Other documents to be submitted 

(A) Approved Subdivision /Amalgamation plan and permit or approved building plan and development permit or original Survey plan for site existence from surveyed and prepared before 1999.07.29 

(B) A copy of owner’s National Identity Card 

(C) If the application is submitted by a representative of the owner a copy of his/her I.D. 

(D) Certified Copies of Deeds with relevant If access / Light & Survey plans & other documents ventilation obtained 

(E) A certified copy of Pedigree from a private road. 

(F) A certified copy of Title Report 

(G) Certificate of Incorporation 

(H) Particulars of Directors / Secretary 

(I) A company resolution appointing two authorized persons. 

(J) A letter of Indemnity is to be submitted, indemnifying the Colombo Municipal Council, against any damages to adjacent structures movable and immovable due to the construction. This should be followed by an Insurance Policy prior to one week of commencement of construction, insuring 3rd parties against any damages or property or person 

(K) Letter of undertaking regarding the submission of Insurance Policy one week prior to commencement of construction work. 

(L) A separate parking diagram to be submitted in 07 copies if the number of parking exceeds 03 parking bays. 

(M) TIA report (Traffic Impact Assessment) to be submitted as follows;  Director General –UDA -10 Copies along with the application, Director (City Planning), CMC – 03 copies. 

(N) In the case of installation of air-conditioning, mechanical ventilation or fire protection system in a building, a certificate from a qualified person has to be submitted. 

(O) An affidavit to be submitted certifying that all the documents submitted by the owner/developer along with the application are true and accurate. 

(P) In addition, following particulars should be provided separately for industrial developments: (*) capacities of the machinery (*) noise levels of all the machines. (*) number of persons to be employed.

Find other documents to be submitted in detail here.

Documents to be submitted when no building work is involved

  1. A location plan of the site in relation to the adjoining street to a scale of not less than 1:4000; 
  2. A survey plan of the site to a scale of not less than 1:1000 showing:-
  • The location of the site including figured dimensions of buildings, if any; 
  • The scale of the plan, the north point and the assessment numbers of adjoining lots or buildings. 
  • The means of access to the site; 
  • All existing drains and watercourses; 
  • Contour or spot levels of the site and levels on the street in front of the site, where necessary.
  1. Drainage and rainwater harvesting;

(i) Details of the location and the dimension of the existing drainage system;

(ii) Of the proposed rainwater harvesting system inclusive of all dimensions and flow directions.

Access road

The access to a site based on the law for a building has been categorized according to its purpose. As a result, the access requirements for a residential and a non-residential building have their own separate requirements. To get your plans approved, your construction needs to follow the requirements set based on the regulations applicable to your building.

  1. Except as authorized under regulation, no site or lot facing a street smaller than 9m in width shall be used for non-residential use or construction of any building for such use.
  2.  (a) Every street serving residential units must comply with the criteria set:
Number of units servedMinimum width (m)Minimum length (m)
Under 4 dwelling units3.0 (10 ft)50 (160 ft)
More than 4 but less than 8 units4.5 (15 ft)100 (328 ft)
More than 8 but less than 20 dwelling units6.0 (20 ft)
More than 20 dwelling units9.0 (30 ft)

(b) A street intended to serve one or more lots for the construction of any building for non-residential use may be approved with a width of less than 9 meters and must meet the specifications set out below.

Maximum extent of land servedMinimum FAR (Floor Area Ratio) on each site Minimum width of street (m)Maximum length of street (m)
500 Where the street more than 1 lot or site but not more than four lots1.56.050
2500 Where the street served only one lot or site1.56.0150
  1. Every such roadway must link to a public street with a width of at least 7 meters or a private street with a width of at least 7 meters owned by the owner of the private street.
  2. Every street having a width of less than 9 meters and a length of more than thirty meters must have a turning circle with a diameter of not less than 9 meters at the dead end.

Street line certificate

The street line certificate is issued by the relevant local authority and they have the authority to take action against a building that has been constructed violating the street line. This is a document that you have to present, especially when applying for a loan.

To be eligible for this; 

  1. The construction project should be located within the local authority’s jurisdiction.
  2. The property assessment register should be updated with such information.

The law further specifies that a fence or boundary wall not exceeding 2 meters in height may be permitted on the building line, but no building shall extend beyond the building line. Balconies, sunshades, or eaves not exceeding 1 meter in width may also be permitted between the building line and a fence or boundary wall not exceeding 2 meters in height may be permitted on the building line. However, these may vary based on the jurisdiction of the local authority.

The specifications for the building line may vary based on the street type as well. 

Category of public streetBuilding line from the center of the street or street line (m)
Local6.0 (20 ft)
Secondary 9.0 (30 ft)
Principal15.0 (49 ft)

For more information on applying for a building certificate visit the government information center website here

Open spaces around the building

Similar to the street line, having open spaces at the back of a building is a must. The law states that unless the back of the building adjoins a public street with a width of at least 7m, there shall be an open space of at least 3m extending along the entire width of the building and belonging entirely to it.

The rear space coverage for a construction varies based on the building as well.

Character of the buildingMaximum lot coverage (m)Minimum open space at the ground level (m)
Dwelling units, hotels, houses, guest houses and public assembly gathering66 1/23
Offices, shops and other commercial and industrial buildings8020

Water supply for a building

According to the law when obtaining a development permit, every building should be provided with a protected water supply system that is connected to a public system. But when such facilities cannot be provided, a private connected water system should be provided instead. 

These buildings should also be installed with water storage tanks and pumps with capacities varying based on each case. If a well is being used, then it should not be closer than 15m of a cesspit or soakage pit of a septic tank.

Coastal reservation 

Control over the development of coastal areas is held by the Coast Conservation Department. According to this, construction work is prohibited within 300 meters of the first vegetation line. But in the past, due to the shortage of coastal areas for development, these prohibitions were not strictly implemented. However, following the Tsunami disaster, this changed and strict rules have been imposed. 

The Coastal Zone is defined in the Coast Conservation Act as ‘that area lying within a limit of three hundred meters landward of the Mean High Water Line and a limit of two kilometers seaward of the Mean Low Water Line. In the case of rivers, streams, lagoons, or any other body of water connected to the sea, either permanently or periodically, the landward boundary extends to a limit of two kilometers, measured perpendicular to the straight baseline drawn between the natural entrance points and included waters of such rivers, streams, and lagoons or any other body of water connected to the sea.’

When constructing, the landward reference line applicable to your building and what you should abide by may vary based on the coastal district/city in the island. 

  1. 100m landwards from the mean high water line in the following districts—Kilinochchi, Gampaha, Puttalam, Colombo, Kalutara, Galle, Matara, and Hambantota. 
  2. 200m landwards from the mean high water line in the coastal belt within Jaffna, Trincomalee, Mullaitivu, Batticaloa, and Ampara districts.

By considering all of the above and working alongside a professional you can get your plan approved in no time.

If you’re looking for that extra help you can always get in touch with us through our Buyer and Seller Assistance Program designed just for you!

Posted Date: 4th November 2021

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