Integrated Townships – Giving The Village Back To Urban India

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By Anil Pharande, CMD – Pharande Spaces

While the concept of integrated township living is still something of a novelty in India, the concept of living in integrated residential communities is definitely not. If we look at how configurations like villages work, then it emerges that Indians have been living in integrated residential communities for a very long time indeed. Of course, integrated townships are a far more specialized and sophisticated real estate model – and one which is becoming a very important one for various reasons.

For all those who have been living in cities like Pune and Mumbai, the fact that urban life can and does become rather disconnected is not news. Since most developers will build residential projects on whatever small land parcels are available, neighbourhoods are created in a very unplanned and uninspiring manner and their residents wind up living in small, isolated pockets which are often quite far from day-to-day conveniences and essentials such as shopping centres, schools and hospitals.

At the same time, people are thrown together on the basis of their household budgets, which is basically what decides what kinds of homes they can buy. Those who opt for staying on rent are often transient families which do not add to the neighbourhood. Creating a sense of neighbourhood and community under such circumstances is very challenging – and because people also have the stresses of their daily work life to tackle, they tend ignore what neighbours they have altogether.

The unfortunate fact that emerges is that people can buy homes, but not a sense of community. Integrated townships, on the other hand, bring the best elements of a village back to urban dwellers. They are distinct and cohesive neighbourhoods within people can reside with a comforting sense of certainty and predictability. People who buy homes in integrated townships are not merely investing in an orphaned, anonymous set of walls somewhere in the city – which is basically all that one can expect from most residential projects in India today.

Township residents become members of a self-sufficient residential microcosm which operates on proven fundamentals of social integration and living convenience. They enjoy all the benefits of a comfortable and secure lifestyle with the additional benefit of social ‘connectivity’ that derives from like-minded people who are willing to invest that extra bit for their families living in harmoniously balanced neighbourhoods. The fact that schools, shopping, healthcare and public transport are readily available and accessible goes a long way in reducing stress and increasing the willingness and scope for healthy social interaction. Likewise, not having to contend with water supply issues and power outages makes for more relaxed and happier neighbourhoods.

And since integrated townships also offer parks, gardens and other places for people to meet and interact in, the stage is set for a way of life which most city dwellers in India have bid goodbye to long ago. In a very definite way, integrated townships have brought the village back in the best possible way – by allowing people to enjoy the benefits of community living against a zero-stress backdrop.

(Anil Pharande is chairman of Pharande Spaces, a leading construction and development firm that develops township properties in Western Pune.)

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