As part of the pilot smart city project, Connaught Place will be made vehicle-free for three months from next month. The move is aimed at reducing pollution and congestion in the area. Realty experts have hailed the announcement as a “much-needed move” and said that if it is made permanent and alternative multi-level parking is provided for in the area it will not only boost retail but also increase footfalls by 25% to 30%.
Cars and buses will not be allowed into the inner and middle circles of the central business district (CBD) for three months starting February.
“Connaught Place is a unique retail and commercial development in the entire world. If the area is turned into a permanent traffic free zone and there is enough provision for parking close by and reasonable rates, the area has immense potential to become a big tourist destination and a retail hub,” says Anshuman Magazine, chairman, CBRE India and South East Asia.
However, inadequate parking will certainly negatively impact the sales and footfalls and retail rentals, he adds. The average rentals for retail hubs in Connaught Place vary from around Rs 200 sq ft to Rs 400 sq ft depending on the location.
Footfalls in the area have increased manifold after the metro rail started operations. This rail connectivity brings in people from both east, west and north Delhi, turning the CBD into a world-class retail and entertainment area that is seen as competing with the malls in the rest of the NCR.
Manish Agarwal, managing director, north, Cushman & Wakefield, says that if the area is permanently made traffic free, it will increase retail activity in the area by 25% to 30% provided there is an alternative multi-level parking in the area and the inner circle is made traffic free simultaneously.
Park and ride services on cycles and battery operated vehicles are expected to be offered from the surrounding parking areas at Shivaji Stadium, Baba Kharak Singh Marg and Palika parking.
At a meeting to discuss the Smart City Project, union minister Venkaiah Naidu also discussed the possibility of landscaping, developing water bodies, side walk cafes, public plazas, holding light and sound shows and street festivals.
Minister Naidu said the vehicle ban was meant to offer a “congestion free, accident free and crime free” experience to visitors.