Connectivity will drive growth in the periphery
Do you sometimes feel that your children should get the same space that you got when you were a child? Do you feel that your children should run around with the same freedom that you did when you were growing up? Do you feel your children should walk down to the nearby school without facing any danger the way you did in your time?
Those were the days, you recall wistfully!
As an estimate, 30 per cent of India lives in cities. This means a whopping 330 million people live in India’s 5,500 cities. This means the whole US population lives in an area which may be 1/10th of the size of the US. This has put a strain on resources like water, land, and environment. There have been warnings from experts that our cities may crumble if speedy steps are not taken to resolve the problem.
The increasing population has also increased the demand for homes in cities, while supply is not increasing in the same proportion. It has resulted into skyrocketing prices of homes.
The burgeoning problems in cities have created the concept of suburban housing where housing complexes and societies are built away from cities, with all facilities inside the housing society.
Suburban housing is not a new trend as such. It has been pretty popular in developed countries such as the US and Europe. Slowly, but steadily, this is going to be the trend in India, too. There have been many real estate builders that are in the process of setting up suburban housing complexes in areas away from cities. These housing complexes provide convenience and amenities like a playground, power generator, water supply, and possibly a clubhouse and preschools.
So does this mean we can get the same freedom for our children that we enjoyed in our childhood? It is certainly possible if few things are also done along with suburban housing concept. Building an oasis of living space in remote locations will not really solve the problem.
While suburban housing is a great idea and there is an inclination towards adopting the same for living a healthy life, a lot more things have to be done to make this idea feasible.
The most important need of suburban housing is its connectivity with the nearest city. Most people work in the city and they need an effective transportation system to go to office and back home. It is difficult to drive all the way to the city and back home from suburbs.
Unfortunately, our transportation system is messed up. If we look at the US and Europe, they have a dependable, effective, and integrated transportation system which connects suburban areas to the centre of the city by subways, buses, and shuttles. In the absence of an integrated transportation system, suburban housing will not work.
Second, amenities like water and power are the basic necessities.
India is yet to develop a dependable system for water and power supply to enable suburban housing. In the cities, you usually get a few hours of water supply and good power supply.
Moreover, even if there are problems, cities have enough support system but these may not be available in the suburbs.
Finally, schools, hospitals, and other support systems are important to lead a wholesome life. Suburbs usually will not have the complete infrastructure.
Moreover, in the absence of an effective communication system, accessibility to such services in the city will be restricted.
Future suburban housing
Despite the problems that we are witnessing today, there are efforts from the Government and civil society to build the infrastructure, both social and physical.
These are important to enable people to commute and communicate.
Some builders are setting up whole new cities in the suburbs. These cities have all the amenities required for day-to-day living.
The costs of such projects, however, are very high because the builders have to build infrastructure, too. In its present form, suburban housing is not affordable for many people. However, it does have a great future, if surrounding infrastructure is ramped up.
This will bring down the cost of such housing, which is how it is meant to be if it is out of the city and people will then be able to afford living in such spaces.