Rise of the gated community

Gated communities are fast becoming the go-to choice
of housing in Bangalore. They are preferred, despite the high cost, for all that they have to offer, says Prashanth G N."

Bangalore is seeing a rapid rise in the number of gated communities in recent times, though the trend began towards the late 1990s and early 2000s, in the wake of the information technology boom. Increasingly, people are feeling the need for secure, private and self-sufficient living managed by a commonly elected body of people or association.

In Bangalore, like in the Delhi National Capital Region, Noida and Gurgaon, this style of living took the form of gated communities. There is no official estimate on the number of gated communities, but many new projects are coming up in South and North Bangalore. Informal estimates put the number of apartments in the city at over 75,000, and more are being added to the existing stock.

The communities are either a series of apartment blocks or individual houses at some distance from each other within a boundary wall, having their own security, affording privacy and having an association to take care of the basic functioning of the community. While old-timers in the city live separately, new residents tend to live in clusters. This sharp change in the residential living pattern is very visible now. The rise of the information technology sector and work patterns in the sector have brought gated community or cluster living to Bangalore.

Security and luxury

“Hundreds of IT employees work in Bangalore and frequently go abroad... They work 15 days to a month here and 15 days to a month in the US. They leave their spouses and parents at home. Naturally, they would like the house and the family to be safe and secure so they can concentrate on work when abroad and not worry about home.

In a gated community, they feel secure because there is private security and there is an association to take care of all functions of the community. So the family and the employee, both, need not worry. Security is the primary concern of Bangalore’s IT employees and even if it is expensive, community living is preferred,” says Nagaraj Reddy, president of the Bangalore chapter of Confederation of Real Estate Developers Association of India (Credai).

Apart from security, another reason why IT employees go in for gated communities is to have a lifestyle similar to the one abroad like in the Gulf, Europe or the US. Says Reddy: “Employees prefer the style, facilities and ambience of their homes abroad to be recreated in their houses in Bangalore too. Many people look for basketball facilities, shopping facilities, a club, indoor entertainment and a spacious house with extra room for a library or to relax in the evenings. A fairly luxurious lifestyle is available only within gated communities.”

A resident of BrookeFields, a gated community in Whitefield, who did not want to be named, told Deccan Herald: “I wanted to be away from dense traffic, congested areas with too many people, the noise of vehicles and open garbage spots. I also wanted a big house for myself with a study and facilities to have guests over to share tea and coffee in an exclusive, private space. This, I could find in an independent house in BrookFields.
The gated community has regular roads and is a colony in itself. The entrance is guarded by security personnel and entry is based only on confirmation by a resident inside the campus. And I travel frequently to the United States on assignments. My parents stay alone when my wife and children fly with me some times. I wanted them to have a secure space. Comfort, privacy and security were assured in a gated community; it is the reason why I’m living within the campus.”

High demand

Bangalore has gated communities all around South, East and, now, North Bangalore. Even if they cost 10 to 20 per cent more than a regular house, people are willing to buy properties within gated communities in any of these three regions. Typically, employees would want to be as close as possible to the workplace and in general, as technology workspaces are in South and East Bangalore, property purchase is high in those areas.

One worry for residents living deep in the interiors in the North, close to Devanahalli, and in the South near Sarjapur, is the lack of water from both the BWSSB and borewells. While apartments are plush and facilities well provided for, people have had to rely on water tankers, spending nearly Rs 500 to Rs 1,500 for a single tanker.

People purchase atleast two to three tankers a week. Tanker owners make a killing with private owners competing against each other and even deciding on which areas and how many apartments they would supply water to.

Apartments and houses within BBMP limits or on the border of BBMP boundaries are likely to get a BWSSB connection, while those outside aren’t, in which case, reliance on borewells is heavy. If borewells run dry, hefty purchases of water from tankers is the only alternative. Scores of apartments in gated communities in Noida and Gurgaon, close to Delhi, are said to have no water connection and have remained unsold.

Real estate developers in Bangalore closely watch the water situation and prepare water reports for clients before making offers on gated communities.

But even then, there is no guarantee that borewells would not go dry or that a BWSSB connection may ever come. While various facilities can be built and provided for within a gated community, water obviously is the most precious.

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