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New buildings, alterations and enlargement of existing buildings, change of uses of buildings and changes of land need planning permission. Colombo Municipal Council as the planning Authority has to ensure that the development is allowed when it is needed, while ensuring that the character and amenities of the area are not adversely affected by the proposed development. Planning permission includes:

Approval for subdivision plans
Approval for building plans
Approval for condominium plans



A land owner has a reasonable degree of freedom to develop his/her property or make additions or alterations to the buildings. However individuals may sometimes be required to sacrifice their interests and forego some of their privileges in the larger interest and well being of the community. The larger interests of the community as a whole cannot be sacrificed by allowing haphazard and unplanned dwellings, shops, factories or any other buildings or structures.

The main objective of "Development Control" is to regulate the growth of the city in a planned and orderly manner. Also it is established that "Development Control" is absolutely essential to safeguard the interests of the community.

No person, institution or state agency shah carry out or engage in any development activity within the Development Area of the City of Colombo except under the Authority which should be in accordance with the development guidelines given in the City of Colombo Development Plan, prepared under Section 8A and the Planning and Building Regulations under Section 21 of Urban Development Authority Law.



The Urban Area of Colombo City is divided into various zones, such as Primary Residential, Mixed Residential, Commercial, etc. . and the types of development that can be permitted in each zone are classified in the Development Plan. It is the duty of designers to find out whether the proposed development is compatible with the zoning of the area. However the existing non-conforming uses in a zone may remain but no expansion of such activities is allowed in that respective zone.



It is the duty of the designer to check whether the block of land is affected by any street line, building line, or any other reservation. It is also important to check whether the site is affected by any private/public sewer line, public/private rain water drains and drainage paths.

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Source: Board of Investment (BOI) , Sri Lanka

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