When one invests in a home, it isn’t just the physical shelter that one seeks. One considers various important factors, including locality, cultural appeal and amenities offered not only by development, but by the neighbourhood and most importantly, the liveability factor of the city in question. A city is a large human settlement comprising housing, transportation, sanitation and other facilities that make it liveable. Our country boasts of 4000 cities and towns with an inhabitation of over 3 million. However, only a handful are considered progressive. According to secondary sources, Hyderabad and Pune have topped the charts for best quality of living followed by Mumbai and Bengaluru. These cities are a notch above the rest owing to their liveability factors.
Liveability means a better quality of life for residents, i.e. people have access to a comfortable, clean, engaged, healthy, good lifestyle and opportunities for participation in governance. Some of the most highly valued aspects include better infrastructure in terms of inexpensive energy, convenient mass transit, prominent schools, faster emergency response systems, clean water and air, low crime and access to diverse entertainment and cultural options.
Mentioned below are the 5 factors that make a city liveable:
1. Safety and security
Cities and urban localities are hubs for economic growth, innovation and cultural development. Unfortunately, these very success rates attract wrong doers, from petty crimes to lethal terror attacks. The civic authorities of a city should provide its inhabitants with a sense of security. Arrangements should be in place to cope with not only terror attacks, but natural calamities and infrastructural failure. Availability of an emergency response team, innovative technologies and a robust communication and transport system capable of withstanding external shocks are key to a safe city.
2. Design and planning
A well-planned city is critical when one is evaluating its liveability factor. Urban planning generally includes the development and use of land, protection and use of the environment, public welfare, and the design of the urban environment, including air, water, and infrastructure. A well-planned city would make provisions for designs of streets, parks, buildings and other urban areas in its master plan. Hence, urban planners work in tandem with related fields of architecture, civil engineering, and public administration to achieve good infrastructure such as wide roads, well-connected locations, presence of metros/monorails to make commute within the city hassle free. Additionally, availability of well-developed social infrastructure that includes educational institutions, healthcare, recreational facilities adds to the city’s liveability factor.
3. Economic development
A city’s progression is evaluated based on its residents’ PPP (Purchasing Power Parity), which is backed by employment opportunities in the city. A liveable city should house companies and should be capable of providing ample employment opportunities. This would not only retain the city dwellers, but attract the right talent too that would add onto a city’s economic development. A city’s economic development is also dependent on its location, trade, availability of land and cost of diffusion of technology.
4. Open and green spaces
Cities are social spaces with a rapid growth pace. Presence of a rich mosaic of dense streets and public places for collaboration and exchange of ideas add to its liveability quotient. Gardens and parks for children to play and for elderly to relax, ample open spaces for outdoor activities which go a long way in retaining human population in the city. Additionally, green spaces add to the atmospheric quality making the city’s air more breathable. Today, leading real estate developers in India are offering projects with a good landscape, more open and green spaces, natural lighting and amenities in order to provide that essential connect with nature.
5. Cultural Compatibility
Every city has a soul and culture of its own. While some would have concentration of power such as government capitals, other would house the wealthy and business class. A good mix of people from different cultural backgrounds makes a city cosmopolitan. Cultural appeal also plays a key role when evaluating a city for liveability. Presence of cultural centres that promote art and culture add onto the appeal of a city.
In addition to the above, there are several factors including planning, smart governance, connectivity, infrastructure, and future development of the city that will enhance the livability quotient for residents.
(By Varghese Abraham, Director-Office Services, Colliers International India)