Integrated townships is the way go in future…

A reasonably priced, well-equipped house in the heart of a city has turned to be a utopian concept. Soaring property prices and scarcity of land in central areas have made the development of new realty projects difficult.

However, suburbs and peripheral regions of bigger cities offer space for such developments. Residential units coming up in these areas are affordable compared to the ones available in central region. However, a number of these localities lack quality infrastructure and basic social amenities such as commercial centres, schools and hospitals.

Development of a peripheral location is dependent on the evolution of a local ecosystem, city infrastructure and requires government intervention to a large degree. While safety of inhabitants is still a big concern, connectivity to all the other neighbouring regions remains a challenge in most suburbs.

Thus daily commute into the city for work and otherwise becomes a challenge. It is only when one starts struggling with these factors, that the importance of a ‘suitable location’ is realised. The lure of the city with its convenient public transportation, nightlife and employment opportunities are overpowering and invigorating.

Therefore, integrated township development presents a solution to the problem. Urban planners across metros and big cities are now focusing on the development of mixed, integrated township developments.

Owning a home in an integrated self-sustaining township can minimise these challenges. The landscape of most suburbs has changed in the last 8-10 years. Facilities of urban centres are now getting replicated in most residential suburbs in the form of townships. Thus, townships are now being designed to create an integrated and vibrant community for residents with a focus to improve the quality of life.

There are some direct benefits of township development. As a buyer, one has enough property options in a township. Spanning over a large area, these often include different categories of properties ranging from independent villas to apartments in addition to offices, shopping centres, cinemas, schools, hospitals and other basic amenities required by residents of a fully evolved and developed urban mofusil.

Residents have easy access to local grocery stores, utility centres, health centres, recreational gardens, wellness spas, food courts and other similar amenities within walking distance. They also feature generous landscaping and serene environment for a more meaningful living, all of which are effective enticements for creating a vibrant urban atmosphere.

Moreover, properties in a completed township have better appreciation potential in comparison to a standalone built up property on account of the higher sale-ability factor.

In addition to this, residents have the luxury of more open areas with a sustainable living ecosystem often with low-rise residential and commercial spaces. This is supported by an infrastructure backbone of power, roads, water, robust drainage and sewage systems. Integrated township models provide a holistic living environment and prevent the mushrooming of unplanned urban villages.

But there is need for support from the government and policies to promote such development across our cities. Such a development should be given higher preference and incentivised as this would take away the burden of ever-burgeoning urban population. Developers building townships can be given more developable permits (read FSI) for the development of more units. This will bring more affordability in the housing segment.

And if these developments are linked with the government’s vision of ‘Housing for all by 2022’, the intended target can be achieved sooner. While some states promote township policies, some do not in its entirety. There needs to be uniformity in policies pertaining to the development of townships. As per the current policies across states, townships should involve some portion of the land for affordable housing for the economically weaker section (EWS) and the lower income groups (LIG). These townships aid the development of infrastructure.

Apart from other incentives, there can be challenges in land acquisition. Easier land acquisition coupled with faster construction approvals will facilitate large-scale development of affordable housing under the township policy.

Some progressive state governments such as Rajasthan, Haryana, Maharashtra and Gujarat have already incentivised township development. Similar models can be replicated elsewhere. For example in Gurgaon the government is promoting integrated township projects by going as far as proposing the relaxation of some development norms for such projects. A number of development firms operating in the region, such as DLF, Tata Housing, Experion, Ansal API and IREO, have benefited from the scheme.

Integrated township projects are now the trend for all future development. Developers are attracting buyers with concepts such as ‘walk-to-work’, eco-friendly environment and large open spaces. These developments are liked both by individual buyers looking for a residential space as well as companies looking to expand their businesses within the premise.

These townships are yielding better returns on investments for the investors too. Both prices of the property as well as rental incomes from these townships are steadily rising.

Not only will cities’ congestion but the need for planned expansion and the demand for housing will continue to be the dominant factor that will drive the development of integrated townships.

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