Cities do not have much space left open for development. Land prices have risen to stratospheric levels and the currently available small parcels of land in cities are not a commercially viable option for affordable housing. The only option left that can address the huge demand for quality housing is to venture out of the metropolis and build townships on large tracts of land.
“As land prices peak in key cities and basic infrastructure lagging to balance with increasing populace, the property developers are building cities away from the city to facilitate better quality lifestyles. The enhanced lifestyle and community living are now perceived to be synonymous with the concept of integrated townships,” says Kaushal Sampat, president & CEO, India, Dun & Bradstreet, a global business information and knowledge provider.
Integrated townships have gone beyond a well-planned housing complex that meets daily needs of its residents to a functioning city that aims at self reliance. The townships being built today have a balanced configuration of residential and commercial spaces intermingled with well-developed infrastructure and recreational amenities besides the green and open spaces.
The provision of such services envisaged usually require a land parcel of more than 100 acres. As such tracts are usually unavailable in metropolitan cities today, townships have to sprout either in the suburbs where such lands are available or else, the outskirts of the city
The difference between a city and such a township is that it is a venture entirely conceptualised and executed by the developer. “Integrated townships provide residents with the tranquillity of a home in the countryside, equipped with comforts and amenities of a bustling metro. These self sustained townships are mini cities,” says Ravi Saund, COO, CHD Developers who is building a 250 acre township at Karnal in Haryana.
Integrated townships have residential and commercial spaces usually in the proportion of 70:30. Then comes the greens and open spaces. In addition, there are a variety of options. One can choose from 1 BHK flat to 5 BHK flat and even villas. Irrespective of the size of the dwelling, all residents of the township have access to common facilities.
Not all large developments can however, be called townships. A development comprising only budget apartments is an incomplete township. So is one that has only luxury housing. It is essential for a township to have an inclusive character.
The next important aspect is infrastructure and other basic facilities. Connectivity to arterial roads is essential and even within the township, a good road network with proper traffic flow planning, foot paths, service corridors are vital. Among common facilities, a sustainable water distribution system, water treatment, efficient drainage, sewerage and waste disposal systems; and integrated security.
No township can attract residents if it does not provide access to educational and healthcare facilities.
Magarpatta City, spread over 430 acres near Pune needs a special mention as a model integrated township. It is an internationally appreciated model of self-sustainability.
The township has solar water heating system, garbage segregation at source, bio gas, vermi-culture, bio-compost, tree plantations, cold storage in addition to the usual facilities.
All these amenities are managed by the developer through its property management services (PMS) arm. The Pune Municipal Corporation even reduced the property tax for Magarpatta City residents by 10 per cent in appreciation and in support of their efforts.
“This concept has immense potential in India given the dynamics of its infrastructure. The future of our masses will be safe as these townships will offer good quality living and a healthy lifestyle.” said Prakash Shah, director-finance, Hiranandani Constructions who has two townships in the Mumbai region.
The Cost factor
The cost of units in these townships is comparatively lower than a stand-alone project in the city. There are two simple reasons.
One, the townships are usually outside the city hence the land cost to the developer is quite low and it reflects in the unit cost. Secondly, the project is huge with large number of units constructed on the mass scale. Even the cost of amenities is divided among the hundreds of units and hence the cost per unit is lower. This is not possible in the single layout plans and surely not in a city.
However, one may feel the cost of the unit in township is almost in the same price range as that of the flats in the suburban areas of the city.
One must note that the land cost may be low but cost of creating entire infrastructure in the remote areas is very high which is also passed on to the buyer. Besides, a township provides much more in terms of quality, health, recreation etc which is worth the price sometimes. Looking at the overall advantages, living in township without compromising seems better than living in the crowded suburbs with multiple problems even if the cost is the same.
There are dozens of township projects across India at various stages and the average price range is between R5,000-8,000 per sq ft. For Example, Vedanta City near Surat in Gujarat offers 2BHK flat at around R15 lakh while Nanded City at Pune by Magarpatta Township is in the range about R40-44 lakh. The 2 BHK flat would cost more than R1 crore in Kohinoor City at Kurla, Mumbai. Villas will cost R2-3 crore near tier-II cities while it will cost about R5-6 crore in the suburbs of these cities. For example, Amanora Sweet Water Villas are quoted at Rs 4 crore and above at Amanora Park Town at Kharadi near Pune.
Integrated townships have encouraged “walk to work” pattern which is quite popular abroad.
Many corporates have taken up huge spaces for their offices along with residential premises for their employees. This enables the employees to walk down to the work place, which is nearby. This avoids commuting and the ordeal of parking and gives extra time on hand to spend at sports or recreational activity or with family members. This saves time, hence energy and cost.
Living in a township has therapeutic benefits too. One, it de-stresses everyone and secondly it encourages to be fitness-conscious. On one hand it has well-designed spacious residences which does not suffocate you inside. And on the outside, the open spaces and green cover of nature helps everyone to unwind. The second benefit is the easy availability of and accessibility to sports and fitness options. Gradually, the residents know each other, form a bonding and become close enough to form a community.
Before you decide to buy into a township, do check the developer’s track record on delivery. Avoid projects where approvals are still pending.