A Proposal For Revitalization Of Pune’s Development Plan

The draft Development Plan (DP) for the 23 villages to be merged into Pune’s Municipal limits has been more or less finalized. It has given emphasis to the Pune metro, and it also proposes to increase the permissible height for high rises in the established parts of the city from 100 metres to 150 metres. Vertical growth is obviously the only way to go in the areas of Pune where horizontal spread is no longer possible.

development-plan

There is great potential for Pune real estate, and the Development Plan is supposed to aid its growth. However, there are some major areas of concern when it comes to its efficiency in doing so. One of the prime concerns is the process involved in formulating, finalizing and implementing the DP in the first place.

This process comes under the purview of the MRTP Act for urban growth in Maharashtra. As it stands now, it is archaic and extremely slow-moving process. To begin with, just getting it from the blue-print to approval stage involves several agencies. Only when the required approvals have been obtained from all these agencies can the Development Plan be finalized by the Chief Minister and implemented by the Pune Municipal Corporation.

This is an extremely cumbersome process, and the amount of red tape it takes to finalize and implement the Pune Development Plan is enormous. It should be remembered that the Government of Maharashtra has to handle the approval and implementation of the Development Plan in tandem with countless other proposals from all over the State. This is why this process usually takes anything between 10-15 years to be finalized and put into actual practice.

These huge delays further give rise to vastly increased costs, wasted time and negatively impact on the city’s GDP. At this critical juncture of deployment of Pune’s development Plan, it would make sense to look at more progressive models of planned urban development. The Government of Maharashtra could consider the method that has worked so well in Ahmedabad in close-by Gujarat and in the neighbouring Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation.

There are good reasons for considering the Pimpri Chinchwad Municipal Corporation as a suitable role model for progressive urban development. Only recently, the PCMC was honoured with the ‘Best City in India’ award at the hands of the Prime Minister himself. Pune’s booming sister city simultaneously received two further national awards under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for the improvements made in its water supply and waste water management, and for effective enforcement of policies aimed at the Economically Weaker Sections.

What is this progressive model of urban development that could transform the PMC, as well? In simple terms, it involves three distinct, time-bound stages. In the first stage, the Government acquires land under roads and reservations at a stipulated rate or in the form of TDR (Transfer of Development Rights). A blueprint for complete social and civic infrastructure creation of the new zones to be developed is then drawn up. This includes roads, water and electricity supply as well as designation of areas for residential development, schools, shopping, hospitals, workplace hubs and industry.

The laying down of this infrastructure can then put on the fast track by creating a Special Purpose Vehicle for a dedicated infrastructure fund. Pune’s new Development Plan will a certain number of kilometers of road length. The total cost of road development can be calculated and the cost per square foot could then be loaded on to the residential development of these areas in the next stage. Interestingly, this cost is very minimal and can be easily borne.

With the kind of will and focus that was displayed by PCMC when it used this model, the entire road development and civic infrastructure development can be completed with three years. At this stage, the newly established and fully infrastructure-enabled areas are then opened up to developers for residential and commercial development.

The advantages of such an approach are manifold. In the first place, there is a uniform, horizontal spread of real estate. Development does not take place in pockets, but in a scientific manner. The creation of road networks and electricity and water supplies before actual real estate development ensures that property prices remain rational and equitable. There would be a very favourable effect on the affordability of homes in these new areas. All these factors together ensure that there is optimal economic growth that benefits everyone.

The Government of Maharashtra has already committed itself to fast-track growth of its cities. By adopting the above-mentioned model, this commitment can actually bring real-time results.

Anil-Pharande

 

 

Anil Pharande is Vice President of CREDAI Pune Metro and Chairman of Pharande  Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in the PCMC area of Pune, India.

Pune Real Estate Needs Special Residential Zones

It has been a while since anything concrete has been done about creating more affordable housing in India. Considering the great need for budget homes, it is remarkable that there is so little interest being shown in providing them. Of course, Indian developers have their own constraints – the cost of bank borrowing, the lack of realistic incentives from the authorities, the ever-increasing cost of land are just a few of them.

Meanwhile, the Government is busy battling inflation and simultaneously trying to keep India’s economic growth from sinking even further. It is very evident that, despite its obvious linkages to the economy, the real estate sector is not on its priority list at the moment.

In cities like Pune, even middle income home buyers are struggling to find homes within their budgets. Pune property rates have gone through the roof, with many blaming investors from Mumbai for this fact. The employment situation is far from brilliant in Pune these days. People are unable to increase their financial situations by shifting to better jobs because the job market has shrunk considerably over the last one year. Interest rates are also astronomical. Many aspiring home buyers are looking at buying small 1 BHK flats in dilapidated housing societies – projects so old that most banks to grant home loans for them.

What is the solution? Is there another model of affordable housing that would help both the EWS and middle class to realize their dream of home ownership? While this is a difficult challenge in land-strapped cities like Mumbai, Pune still has enough land to spare to offer one possible solution. This solution, which requires the involvement of both the Government and the developer community, is Special Residential Zones (SRZs).

The concept of Special Residential Zones or SRZs is not a new one. It has been discussed in the past and is, in fact, nothing but a natural extensions of the existing SEZ model tailored to the Indian residential property market context.

A Special Residential Zone is a model of affordable housing development that creates a separate economic microcosm or entity. The model can be tailored to attract developers by means of various incentives and tax breaks. A important feature of a SRZ would be subsidized rates for land and construction materials, which would be a further incentive for developers to get involved. In this model, the Government would provide the necessary infrastructure to make the SRZ approachable and inhabitable. In other circumstances, developers would have to see to this themselves.

The SRZ model calls for a change in certain fiscal policies, and also for simplified parameters for development approvals and sanctions. The primary objectives would be one of social responsibility, though part of the incentives for developers would be a commercial component.

In the SRZ model, the Government would incentivize the development of affordable residential units. The long-term objectives would include the lowering of housing prices in certain areas, since the SRZ model will eventually alter local property market dynamics.

As in the SEZ model, the land on which the units are developed would be long-term leasehold. In other words, the property buyer would own the property, but not the land it stands on. As everywhere else, ownership dynamics would conceivably change once the property has been occupied for over 12 years.

True, the concept of SRZs still needs to be developed. However, the point here is that it can be implemented very well around Pune, since there are considerable land parcels available on the periphery that would make the SRZ model possible.
Anil-Pharande

 

 

Anil Pharande is Vice President of CREDAI Pune Metro and Chairman of Pharande  Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in the PCMC area of Pune, India.

Pune Township Properties – The Importance Of Open Spaces

In simple terms, open spaces are areas within a residential project that are not being developed but kept vacant. The developer may turn open spaces into a landscaped green zone or keep them vacant but well maintained. The important thing is that an open space is not built upon in any manner. Why are open spaces so necessary?

Open spaces are very important to residents because they enhance their quality of life. It is a psychological fact that lack of open spaces in a residential project leads to more stress and less overall satisfaction among residents. If there is nothing but concrete to look at when one steps out for work in the morning and returns home in the evening, the only real sanctuary is the flat itself.

Residents living in projects without open spaces feel trapped and without any real choices of what to do with their spare time. Children do not have enough space to play in, which makes them more cranky and demanding. Meanwhile, privacy is compromised and individual families are forcibly thrown together.

Open spaces provide a sense of spaciousness that makes one feel good about living in a neighbourhood that provides them. In a city like Pune, the central areas can no longer provide open spaces because seemingly every square foot is being developed either as a residential or commercial space. Lack of town planning within the PMC jurisdiction has ensured that this trend cannot and will not be reversed in the primary city. The only way of providing open spaces to Pune property buyers today is in township properties in areas like Pimpri-Chinchwad.

Various sociological studies conducted both in India and the West have clearly indicated that uncontrolled development that leaves little or no open spaces for residents is bad for human health, both in a psychological and physiological sense. Air quality decreases significantly in projects with no open spaces, since air cannot circulate properly. This means that polluted air gets trapped between buildings and seeps back into the individual homes. Also, open spaces provide more motivation to be physically active and engage in healthy things like jogging and outdoor play, which has both physiological and psychological benefits.

Good township properties are planned in a manner that allows for plenty of open and green spaces, from which all residents benefit. These open spaces are permanent features, which means that they will not be encroached upon or developed by the builder at a later stage. They are, in fact, part of the blueprint submitted for the project’s approval. In other words, the developer is legally bound to protect and preserve these open spaces throughout the entire life-cycle of the project.

Not surprisingly, township properties with plenty of open spaces also command higher property values than similar properties close to the township. Again, this is because access to open spaces improves quality of life, which is a precious commodity for Pune property buyers today. In the PCMC area of Pune, a number of well-planned townships are coming up in Moshi and Ravet. These township projects offer an abundance of open spaces, apart from recreation centres, gymnasiums and children’s play areas.

Anil-Pharande

 

 

Anil Pharande is Vice President of CREDAI Pune Metro and Chairman of Pharande  Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in the PCMC area of Pune, India.