Friday, 28 June 2013

What is a 'zonal plan', what exactly is a zonal development plan?

As per MPD-2001, “a Zonal Development Plan means a plan for a Zone (Division) of the Union Territory of Delhi. The Zonal Plan (Divisional Plan) details out the policy of the Master Plan and acts as a link between the layout and the Master Plan. The development schemes/layout plans indicating use premises should conform to the Master Plan/Zonal (Divisional) Plan.”

Scope of this article is answering questions like:
  • Where zonal development plans originate from?
  • What is a zonal development plan?
  • Why a zonal level development plan is required?
  • Legality of ZDP.

Indian Master plan approach was fundamentally guided by the British Town Planning legislations. And further integrating the western concept of 'zoning' into the Master planning lead to the preparation of new lower hierarchy development plans called 'Zonal development plan' handling more comprehensive and more focused objectives derived from the Master plan.

Zonal development plans are the next level hierarchical policy plans after the Master plans which detail out the broad objectives of the Master plan at comparatively smaller regions while incorporating the guidelines and proposals by the Master plan without deviating far from the primary goal of development set by Master plan. Unlike Master plans here these zonal plans are prepared for shorter terms with more focus on detailing.

As the city is in its initial stage of growth there is urban agglomeration taking place into the city which usually derived due to one or a few unique characteristics spreading almost homogeneous throughout the city. But as the city keeps growing bigger, there are different new characteristics brushed without the prior knowledge on different parts of the city holding huge population. This arises new problems with solutions generally out of the scope of the single character oriented Master plans which treats the whole city equal and develops the regulations based on the common or prominent character of the city with major aspects in detail. Also it is impossible to advocate these changes into the Master plan due to its long term visionary approach.

At this point the Authorities have come up with such inspiring solution of preparation of separate development plans for different smaller regions called zones which are divided based on the broad prevailing character of the area. Now, having an opportunity of independent planning for each zone, these zonal development plans put their focus on those sub objectives developed according to the uniqueness of the zones.

Coming to the question of legality of the zonal development plans, though both zonal plans and master plans are approved and authorised equally by the State Governments, any changes or amendments are directed only towards the statutary master plan which reflects those changes onto the lower hierarchy plans further. Most development authorities prefer the development of these zonal plans simultaneously with the preparation of the Master plans to provide immediate aid as tool to the Master plan implementation at ground level.


  1. Note on “Functions, Duties and Norms in the planning department” by Delhi Development Authority. []
  2. Publication by Physical Planning department at School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi - “Proceedings of Panel discussion on Local Area Plan (case study – ward 144) and Housing provisions in the context of DDA housing scheme 2010”. []
  3. Publication by School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi – "Alternative approaches to Master plan." []
  4. Major reference – friends and faculty at School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi