Livability Quotient – A Paradigm Shift In India’s Emerging Cities

21 August, 2018

Taking integrated townships to the next level

Ramesh Nair – CEO & Country Head, JLL India

It is well-established fact that urbanization is by far the biggest trigger for India’s real estate growth story. However, there is a darker flip side – urbanization has resulted in a massive strain on the leading cities of India, which are struggling to cope with ever-rising population and density.

The idea of creating new Smart Cities was mooted in the face of a clear need to decongest India’s Tier 1 cities and improve their livability quotients.

An important aspect for improving the livability quotient is planning the city in advance, where the focus needs to be on attributes such walkability, pavements, important signages, proximity to schools, hospitals, retail, clubs, and parks, etc.

Another aspect is related to sustainability – more greenery on the land to ensure a higher degree of rainwater harvesting, use of STP water to preserve water, and designing buildings that consume less energy by providing for ample ventilation and light.

However, even before the Smart City mission was formalized, the model of creating cities around the peripheries of Tier 1 cities (or satellite cities) has already established a proven track record for mitigating the dire effects of urban sprawl and boosting livability quotient.

In JLL India’s proprietary research report ‘Livability Quotient – A Paradigm Shift in India’s Emerging Cities’, 10 prominent emerging cities have been closely evaluated for their city administration practices, sustainability, and overall livability.

Several factors were identified under the broad parameters of planning, connectivity, utilities, leisure, smart governance, safety, jobs, environment, real estate performance and future scope of expansion.

The top emerging cities assessed in this report are Navi Mumbai, Pimpri-Chinchwad, Magarpatta City, Palava City, Greater Noida, Manesar, Mohali, Rajarhat, Technopark and Mahindra World City (MWC).

After an exhaustive analysis on the basis of the above-mentioned parameters for 10 cities considered, a definitive livability quotient ranking was arrived at:

On the back of major evolutionary leaps in the integrated townships model, it now makes logical sense to include privately-managed cities (large townships or commercial-cum-residential hubs managed by private developers) while comparing cities.

The reason is clear – in the era of smart cities in the daily administration of which private players will be increasingly involved, it is important to look at private developers as future city administrators.

As a result, some of the country’s larger integrated townships now qualify as standalone satellite cities in their own right – and, in fact, have taken city administration and governance to an entirely new level.

To date, only a handful of developers in India have successfully demonstrated their capabilities for city administration. Going forward, many more such developments will crop up on India’s real estate landscape, especially in times when large integrated townships are being promoted.

The report‘Livability Quotient – A Paradigm Shift in India’s Emerging Cities’ reveals several important aspects that conventionally-managed cities (municipal authorities) can learn from privately-managed cities (private developers or councils).

  • In terms of adopting technology for efficient management of resources and also certain sustainability parameters, privately-managed cities have managed to score higher, thereby exhibiting the ‘skill’ required of city administrators
  • On the other hand, factors that demonstrate ‘scale’ (or scalability) – connectivity, future expansion potential, job creation, etc. – have seen greater success in conventionally-managed cities.

This clearly indicates that the administrators of both city formats must learn from each other and demonstrate both ‘skill’ and ‘scale’ in order to create the smart and liveable cities of the future.

Integrated townships with mixed-use development are increasingly becoming the preferred option for residents, and concepts like ‘walk-to-work’, ‘last mile connectivity’ and ‘inclusiveness’ are going to be decisive factors in choosing the right integrated township development.

The parameters that call for definite and well-developed skill levels include:

  • Planning
  • Utilities and daily needs management
  • Leisure and recreation
  • Smart governance
  • Safety and security, and
  • Environment and sustainability.

There are two main reasons why these parameters are successfully implemented by the privately-managed cities:

  1. Continuous engagement with citizens through real-time feedback, and
  2. Implementation of technology for efficiency in resource utilization.

In some cities, the councils have a good representation of citizens or have mechanisms for faster real-time redressal of issues in place. Also, in most cases, state-of-the-art monitoring and surveillance technologies are in use to keep the city safe and secure.

As urbanization picks up pace in India, the emerging cities will play a key role in accommodating future expansion needs of existing urban agglomerations.

Most importantly, these cities will play a crucial role in balancing growth in a more sustainable manner, thereby enhancing the livability quotient for residents.

The ensuing cross-learning exercise on the part of both large private township developers as well as the city municipal councils will be highly beneficial.

Without a doubt, the next generation of megacities in India will see an unprecedented scale and quality of transformation when it comes to meeting the real estate needs of the future.