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Are we ready for sports cities?

Will cities promoting a healthy lifestyle in Noida and Gurgaon inject adrenaline into Delhi-NCR’s sluggish realty market?

real estate Updated: Jan 09, 2016 17:51 IST
Sports cities

Sports cities help create vibrant communities with a focus on building healthy lifestyles where residents simply have to walk to play.(iStock)

Though the Commonwealth Games 2010 had been in the news for all the wrong reasons, it left behind a legacy of over a dozen world-class sporting facilities – some of which fell into disuse after the mega sporting event.

Neighbouring Noida created the world-famous Formula One racing track through a private initiative. Now, in their attempt to leave Delhi behind in the race for sports infrastructure, city authorities have allowed development of four sports cities by providing special incentives. Noida’s Master Plan 2031 has a provision for recreational green spaces that allow for maximum permissible FAR of 2 against the conventional 3.5. Under the scheme, of the 100 to 150 acres offered for development, 70% area has to be utilised by private developers to create sports facilities while 2%will be reserved for commercial use, and 28% for group housing and residential use.

As a concept, sports cities help create vibrant communities with a focus on building healthy lifestyles where residents simply have to walk to play. What needs to be questioned, however, is the need for creating a specialised format when the unsold inventory in Delhi NCR alone stands at 1,85,000 to 1,90,000 units. Will there be any takers for homes snuggled amidst picturesque environs, overlooking thousands of acres of undulating greens, a golf course, a cricket stadium and perhaps a few lakes thrown in for good measure?

Real estate experts agree that it does help to have developers creating differentiation in a market which, of late, has not seen much activity. The government also benefits from creating sports infrastructure through a private initiative without having to spend on its own.

The success of this model, however, largely depends on timely execution and delivery and also on whether these sports facilities are utilised fully to add premium value to the address.

In what could also be seen as a marketing tactic that appeals to young homebuyers with lifestyle aspirations, developers in Haryana are including sports academies and facilities as part of routine high-rise and villa developments. In Noida, however, some builders have been allocated 100 to 150 acres to create both sports infrastructure and low-rise housing where premium will be derived from facilities offered by branded sports academies.

Creating a special development category under the master planning norms in Noida will help the state government create additional public infrastructure which it would have had to otherwise set up and paid for on its own, says Anckur Srivasttava of GenReal Advisors.

Facilities like sports infrastructure and convention centres that are not economically viable in their independent capacity are normally cross-subsidised by using these joint venture strategies where the developer investment in creating the non-economically viable component is recouped via monetisation of the real estate element in the same project, Srivasttava adds.

Recreational green is a separate land use under the Master Plan 2031 which allows development of sports cities in Noida, which as of now has four such projects coming up. Under the scheme, 30% ground coverage is permissible and FAR of 1.5 to 2 is allowed. “In this case the intent is to encourage sports facilities within a residential campus to allow for better utilisation and accessibility of the facility rather than have a standalone sports stadium that is far away from a housing project,” says Rama Raman, chairman of Noida and Greater Noida Authority.