Cluster Development in India for Urban Regeneration and the Heritage Conservation

One of the factors that many old cities have to grapple with is meeting residential housing needs with limited spaces and a backdrop of high value heritage buildings and residential areas where communities have established livelihoods for generations. Cluster development provides a means to maximize land use and preserve the city’s heritage value by grouping the residential developments in one location while reserving  a large amount of land for public spaces and pedestrian use.  The practice is growing popularity in some Indian cities such as Mumbai and Pune where it has been adopted in urban development.

What Indian Cities Can Achieve with Clustered Urban Development

Indian cities have never been the most orderly and as more Indians move to the cities, the resulting overcrowding is expected to exert greater strain on the city’s resources such as land and the existing structures and core urban areas of heritage value. Clustered development will allow for greater regeneration of old city areas and lead to greater improvements of the city’s infrastructure and social amenities.  The second advantage of clustered development is that it permits for better planning and development of well spaced and well lit residential buildings away from the poorly lit narrow streets of the old areas  of the city. Many of the city redevelopment initiatives have been abused by greedy investors and clustered development eliminates this by prioritizing and structuring redevelopment programs which eliminates the loopholes and the abuse.

One of the biggest city redevelopment initiatives of the older core urban areas that will utilize clustered development is the redevelopment of Mumbai’s Bhindi Bazaar, Byculla.  The redevelopment program is expected to impact as many as 20,000 lives and will see some 3200 housing units being restored. There are other core areas in the city of Mumbai which have been marked out for redevelopment.  These areas have very rich historical and  cultural heritage and are  a melting pot of several cultures and traditions from different parts of India. Cluster development is needed in such areas to cater for the very minute needs of the populace.

Cities need to employ an amalgamation of plots for cluster development  so as to prevent new constructions from sprouting from every corner of the cities and cannibalizing the few public spaces reserved for pedestrian use, amenities, roads and lots of sunlight inside the buildings  and fresh air.  City development plans in India must increasingly put the social needs of the population into consideration, particularly in regeneration projects and this can be adequately accomplished by employing cluster development plans.

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