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New Town homes can have eateries on ground floor

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KOLKATA: House owners in New Town can now turn entrepreneurs to set up a restaurant on the ground floor or lease it to a café or ice-cream parlour.
Taking a leaf out of neighbouring Salt Lake where ground floor shops have infused life into locatities, particularly those along First Avenue, the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) has decided to allow houseowners to commercially use the ground floor. The civic authority will charge a nominal fee for the usage change.

In Salt Lake, shops had sprung up on the ground floor of many houses along First Avenue as well as FE Block opposite Central Park. They ranged from banks to restaurants to shops of various nature. But it was only in 2010 that the state urban development department recognised these establishments and permitted such conversion.

NKDA to kick off plan with eateries

In New Town, NKDA has decided to make a tentative beginning with eateries. It has listed out the preferred options: soft drink shop, snacks and tea & coffee bar, ice cream shop and dry food shop. The house owner will need to seek permission from NKDA and obtain a trade licence against payment of a nominal fee. “The procedure for seeking permission and obtaining trade licence will be easy and transparent,” an official said.

Though some food joints have already come up in a few houses in the township, they operated with a lot of restrictions. Not only was the permission fee rather steep at Rs 80 per sq ft, only 45% of the floor could be used. Moreover, the scrutiny was also severe. Hence, not many food joints or cafés popped up. Now with the fee revision and relaxed norms, NKDA hopes owners will be encouraged to set up these joints that will in turn make the localities more habitable and also create jobs.

“If you have shops in an area that are open till 10pm or 11pm, it automatically adds to the sense of safety in the neighbourhood,” said another civic official.

Officials said that once trade licence is issued, property tax will also be revised to factor in the commercial use as per the unit area assessment (UAA) system that is in vogue since April 1.

NKDA is also planning to set up road side cafés at multiple locations in the township like the one it the one that operates at the bus terminus in Action Area I.

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