In 1948, the Government invited Sir Patrick Abecrombie to prepare a regional plan for Colombo and its surrounding region, covering an area of 220 square miles. The region included the capital city, the adjoining built-up urban area and a considerable extent of rural country in the periphery.
Abercombie’s Regional Plan and his proposal for the development of the Colombo Metropolitan area were subsequently amended according to the decisions of the Central Planning Commission in 1957, to carry out the planned development of satellite towns within the region in order to accommodate the overspill of the people from crowded city area. It was felt that Abecrombie’s plan was not adequate to accommodate the rapid changes taking place in the urban areas, especially in Colombo and its surrounding sub urban areas. The Government sought UNDP assistance to mitigate the perceived problems. This was the beginning of a build up of a consensus on the necessity of a Master Plan for Colombo and it’s environs.
The Master Plan for the Colombo Metropolitan Region of 1978 consisted of two interrelated documents, namely the Colombo Metropolitan Regional Structure Plan and the Colombo Urban Area Plan. The Colombo Master Plan Project, which pursued a balanced regional development strategy, covered the Colombo District including the area now classified as Gampaha District and part of Kalutara District.
The establishment of the Urban Development Authority as a planning organisation was also a direct outcome of the Colombo Master Plan. The City of Colombo Development Plan was prepared and gazetted by the Urban Development Authority in 1985 and it enabled the UDA to implement zoning and building regulations.
A review of urban development since the publication of the Colombo Master Plan shows that several significant planned developments have taken place. These include the Sri Jayawardenapura Kotte Parliamentary Complex, the Superior Courts Complex and the Biyagama and Katunayaka Free Trade Zones. The development that has taken place during the last twenty years has significantly changed the urban environment in and around Colombo.
The decision to prepare a new structure plan for the Colombo Metropolitan Region was greatly influenced by the changes during the last twenty years. All aspects of the region, such as infrastructure, transport, health, education, industry, housing and agriculture have been taken into account. The proposed strategies for physical formations are aimed at making the City of Colombo more orderly and environmentally friendly and yet highly dynamic and economically diverse. The strategy of the CMR Plan is to utilise this natural layout by making further improvements for sustainable development through the application of appropriate environmental and physical planning strategies.
Sri Lanka Land Reclamation & Development Corporation (SLLR&DC) initially a body corporate duly established under the Colombo District (Low Lying Areas) Reclamation & Development Board Act No. 15 of 1968 as amended by Law No. 27 of 1976, Act No. 52 of 1982 and Act. No. 35 of 2006.
The SLLR&DC is an Engineering Organization comprising about 45 Civil Engineers, about 5 Mechanical Engineers and 1 Earth Resources & Mining Engineer specialized in Designs, Construction, Land Reclamation & Storm Water Drainage & Dredging. SLLR&DC has been engaged in design of drainage plans for marshy lands and structural designs for multi storeyed buildings & hydraulic structures for the last 40 years. SLLR&DC has acquired specialized knowledge on hydrology & hydraulics required for design and analysis of storm water drainage systems in Sri Lanka. SLLR&DC is the State agency which grants permission for the public to fill marshy land subject to provision of storm water drainage as per designs prepared by SLLR&DC. It is continuously involved in the preparation of Master Drainage Plans for catchments and sub catchments identifying lowlands which could be allowed for reclamation after leaving detention areas and improving storm water drainage facilities.
Colombo is a charter city, with a Mayor and Council form of government. Colombo's mayor and the council members are elected through local government elections held once in four years. For the past 50 years the city had been governed by the United National Party (UNP), whose business friendly policies resonate with the population of Colombo.
Colombo Municipal Council (CMC) is the largest Local Authority in Sri Lanka and one of the oldest in South Asia. Established in 1865, it has grown into a large organization catering to the needs of a resident population of 647,100 (2001 census) and a floating population of nearly 500,000 (estimated). At the time of the establishment of the Municipal Council, the population was in the region of 80,000.
As the Legislative body of the City, the City Council serves as the link between the citizens of Colombo and their municipal government. Through the filing of legislation, the enactment of orders, ordinances, and resolutions, the Council actively represents the diverse interests of its residents while ensuring the efficient and cost effective delivery of services.
Today the council with 15 Departments is mainly responsible for the provision of services public health and curative services, solid waste management, maintenance of roads, Lands and Environmental Development, street lighting, water and drainage, and veterinary services. In addition to these there are number of Departments providing social services, sports and recreation, library services together with finance, rates, secretarial and training departments.