Tools / Approaches in Urban Renewal

1) Slum Clearance 

Demolition of dilapidated dwellings located in a slum. Slum clearance, slum eviction or slum removal is an urban renewal strategy used to transform low income settlements with poor reputation into another type of development or housing. This has long been a strategy for redeveloping urban communities. 

2) Redevelopment 

The demolition of an existing building and its replacement by a new building. Redevelopment consists of the removal of existing buildings and the reuse of cleared land for the implementation of new projects. This approach is applicable to areas in which buildings are in seriously deteriorated condition and have no preservation value, or in which the arrangement of buildings are such that the area cannot provide satisfactory living conditions. In such cases, demolition and reconstruction, of whole blocks or of small sections, is often thought to be the only solution to ensure future comfort and safety of the residents. In the majority of western countries, redevelopment has been discarded as a way to rejuvenate old city centers. However, in many developing countries, redevelopment through slum clearance and reconstruction is still regarded as the only viable way to improve housing conditions and to modernize inner-city areas. 

3) Rehabilitation 

The repair and improvement of existing structurally sound property. Rehabilitation, often termed conservation or preservation, can be defined as the opposite of redevelopment. It is based on preserving, repairing and restoring the natural and man-made environments of existing neighborhoods. Rehabilitation is applicable to areas where buildings are generally in structurally sound condition but have deteriorated because of neglected maintenance. It takes advantage of the existing housing stock as a valuable resource and adapts old houses to present day life and acceptable standards by providing modern facilities. Rehabilitation recognizes that the limited availability of funds for new construction and the serious housing shortage make the option of destroying already existing housing appear both unaffordable and imprudent. It recognizes the value of old neighborhoods and by preserving what is unique, ancient and specifically local, it can also contribute to the development of the tourism industry and stimulate the economy.

Concerning the impacts on the population, residential rehabilitation can take place in two distinct ways: gentrification and incumbent upgrading. Gentrification is defined as the process by which middle and upper class people move to a neighborhood, attracted by its proximity to central business districts and replace the previous working-class inhabitants. Through the process of incumbent upgrading, the residents remain in place and invest in their own time, money and energy into refurbishing their housing and improving their social conditions. 

4) Housing Improvement 

Improvements of dwellings by provision of essential basic amenities. 

5) Conservation 

To retain intact or unchanged.

6) Environmental Improvements 

Main emphasis is to improve environmental conditions. 

7) Economic Renewal 

Improvement of economic conditions of dwellers. 


Urban Renewal

Local policies and strategies designed to deal with urban decline, decay or transformation are termed as urban renewal. It is a comprehensive and integrated vision and action which leads to the resolution of urban problems and which seeks to bring about a lasting improvement in the economic, physical, social and environmental conditions of an area that has been subject to change. With the decision and authority of a governing municipality, rearranging land use, function and ownership features of a socially, economically or structurally decayed part of a certain city such as slum zones or brown fields, for the purpose of obtaining a desired, well organized neighbourhood. 

Urban renewal or urban regeneration is a process of land redevelopment in areas of prior, moderately to high, dense urban land use. It has a mammoth impact on the urban panorama and morphology of different cities. On the other side, the urban redevelopment process is envisioned as a way to redevelop or rebuilt urban zones and it also incorporates sewerage treatment and disposal, solid waste management, building and maintenance of roads, streets and flyovers, creation of parks and open spaces, street lighting along with street cleanliness, conservation and remodeling of heritage sites, water purification and supply etc. all of which ultimately lead to a healthy renewal project in urban areas. So renewal is an all-round process that encompasses mainly redevelopment and also some other specific planning strategies within its spectrum. 

Urban renewal refers to a set of plans and activities to upgrade neighborhoods and suburbs that are in state of distress or decay. Urban renewal programs address the physical aspects of urban decay. Urban problems such as deteriorating housing, poor physical infrastructure (including water and sanitation services) and poor community services such as sports and recreational amenities are addressed through such programs. 

Urban renewal (also called urban regeneration in the United Kingdom and urban redevelopment in the United States ) is a program of land redevelopment often used to address urban decay in cities. Urban renewal is the clearing out of blighted areas in inner cities to clear out slums and create opportunities for higher class housing, businesses and more. A primary purpose of urban renewal is to restore economic viability to a given area by attracting external private and public investment and by encouraging business startups and survival. 

Modern attempts at renewal began in the late 19th century in developed nations, and experienced an intense phase in the late 1940s under the rubric of reconstruction. The process has had a major impact on many urban landscapes and has played an important role in the history and demographics of cities around the world. Urban renewal is a process where privately owned properties within a designated renewal area are purchased or taken by eminent domain by a municipal redevelopment authority, razed and then reconveyed to selected developers who devote them to other uses.

The concept of urban renewal as a method for social reform emerged in England as a reaction to the increasingly cramped and unsanitary conditions of the urban poor in the rapidly industrializing cities of the 19th century. The agenda that emerged was a progressive doctrine that assumed better housing conditions would reform its residents morally and economically. This process is also carried out in rural areas, referred to as village renewal, though it may not be exactly the same in practice. In some cases, renewal may result in urban sprawl when city infrastructure begins to include freeways and expressways. Urban renewal has been seen by proponents as an economic engine and a reform mechanism and by critics as a mechanism for control. Though it may bring more wealth to communities, it may also edge out its preexisting residents.

Objectives of Urban Renewal 

The main objectives of urban renewal are 

  • Restructuring and re planning of concerned urban areas 
  • Designing more effective and environment friendly local transport and road networks within the concerned urban areas
  • Rationalizing land uses within the concerned urban areas 
  • Redeveloping dilapidated buildings into new buildings of modern standard and environment friendly design 
  • Promoting sustainable development in the urban areas 
  • Promoting the timely maintenance and rehabilitation of buildings in need of repair 
  • Preserving buildings, sites and structures of historical, cultural or architectural value 
  • Preserving as far as practicable local characteristics 
  • Preserving as far as practicable the social networks of the local community 
  • Providing purpose-built housing for groups with special needs, such as the elderly and the disabled 
  • Providing more open space and community/welfare facilities 
  • Enhancing the townscape with attractive landscape and urban design 

Reasons behind Urban Renewal 

Urban Renewal allows an absolute city to modernize itself so that it can compete successfully with other cities of a similar hierarchical size for major economic and cultural activities. Various reasons behind urban renewal are as follows. 

a) Economic Reasons 

In Central areas, it alters low revenue property to high value property that yields higher tax revenue to the municipality. In conservation, it maintains the properties from declining. The cost of maintenance becomes less. Private developers are given adequate incentives to extend business and it provides more employment in commercial and institutional activities. Urban renewal project can repay the loan for investment within a few years. It provides employment opportunities and helps construction related activities. The relocated people and business also get economic benefits and blessings. 

b) Social Reasons 

It provides housing to the poor people and thus dilapidated housings and unhealthy, shady as well as shabby environmental ambience get eliminated through this type of projects. Juvenile delinquency, prostitution, anti-social elements and other social pathological symptoms are also removed or eradicated to some extent by the aura of this type of reformations.

c) Public Improvement Reasons 

Traffic improvements and parking facilities, disappearance of illegal and unauthorized usage of public space, provision of adequate community facilities including interward and intraward municipal services can be provided over a wider urban pursuit after the occurrence of a holistic urban renewal programme. 

d) Aesthetic Reasons 

Changing cityscapes with better or improved residential areas are generated due to renewal where all sorts of urban-ugliness can be removed. 

The purpose of urban renewal is to improve specific areas of a city that are poorly developed or underdeveloped. These areas can have old deteriorated buildings and bad streets and utilities or the areas can lack streets and utilities altogether. 

The National Common Minimum Programme (NCMP) has committed itself to a comprehensive programme of urban renewal and massive expansion of social housing especially in Kolkata city. In his inaugural address of a National-level programme, held on 24th June, 2004, the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh emphasized on the need to give special attention to policies promoting urban renewal through urban regeneration, renovation and redevelopment. In the Independence Day address of 2008, he uttered, “Urban renewal constitutes one of the seven pillars for urban growth and development in different metropolitan cities of India”. At the beginning of 21st century, renewal resulted in the creation of urban sprawl also and huge areas of cities were demolished and replaced by fairways and expressways, sky-touching housing projects and vacant lots, some of which (though minor portions) still remain vacant. 

Urban renewal provides the following tools. 

  • First it allows for the use of tax increment financing to finance improvement projects. 
  • Second, it allows for special powers to buy and assemble sites for development or redevelopment, if that is desired. 
  • Third, it allows for special flexibility in working with private parties to complete development projects. 

Urban Renewal Agency 

For a municipality to use urban renewal it must establish an urban renewal agency and it must adopt an urban renewal plan. Urban renewal agencies are created by state law but are specifically “activated’” by the governing body. The agencies are separate legal bodies from the governing body, but in most cases the urban renewal agency board is composed of members of the governing body. 

Urban Renewal Plans 

To undertake urban renewal projects with tax increment financing, the projects must be authorized in an urban renewal plan. The plan applies to a specific geographic area of the city, which is called the urban renewal area. 

The term Urban renewal means rebirth or regeneration of a city or a part of it which has been plagued by the ills of urbanization. The planning concept originated in England and America in 1930’s. Decayed parts of the city were demolished and rebuilt. Initially referred to slum clearance and housing but has gradually evolved into a multidimensional concept. These programs were thrust upon the city and its people and were criticized and halted on opposition by organized community movements. The urban renewal programs taken up later, involved greater participation of the communities.

Urban Renewal programs are generally undertaken by public authorities or by local governments. The emphasis is on those parts which have fallen below current standards of public acceptability. These are commonly to be found in the residential parts of the inner city and the central business district. Indicators for residential parts of inner cities are inadequate housing, environmental degradation and presence of non-conforming uses. Indicators for central business district are traffic problems, congestion and dilapidated buildings. 

Urban renewal is required for 
  • Dilapidating, ageing parts of the city, not providing the city its full potential and becoming a health hazard 
  • In built form it consists of old area of the city, congested area around transit points and illegal settlements needing redevelopment 
  • In terms of infrastructure - measures for efficient and smooth movement of traffic, improvement of transportation network and provision /improvement of utilities


Urban Planning Policy in India

In our first five year plan, the problem of urbanization was identified with the problem of increasing shortage of living space in urban areas, as a consequence of heavy shift of population from rural to urban area. The second plan marked the expansion of the housing programme of the first plan and given due attention to slum clearance, slum improvement and land acquisition and development was given due importance. In the third plan, it was decided to prepare master plans and regional development plans for metropolitan and industrial cities. In this plan urbanization was recognized as an important aspect of the process of economic and social development. 

In the fourth plan the expansion of urban community and spatial implications of the problems of urbanization was given due importance. In the fifth and sixth plan period attention has been given to spatial and functional linkage of towns, development and growth of small towns and prospects of developing new towns as the centres of agro-industries and rural services. The overall view of developing urbanization as a part of integrated rural development was given due consideration.

Spatial Policy 

The urban spatial policy considerations are becoming increasingly important in development planning. Alternative settlement patterns are being evaluated from the point of view of cost and efficiency. It has been demonstrated that, in spite of continuous failure to arrest the urban growth at a pre planned time and place, reasonable programmes to influence the direction of migration and the pattern of urbanization are feasible. One of the difficulties in facing the formation of spatial policies and urban growth strategies is that, there are very few successful models of urban planning and there are no ready made policies, programmes and strategies to suit all conditions, places and times.


New Towns in India

In recent times, India has seen a spurt in such planned townships and a significant number of consumers living in major urban centres are becoming interested in the idea of living in the number of planned townships that are being built away from major urban hubs and chaos. 

Making of new towns in India is not a recent phenomenon. India has the experience of this process throughout her history. The phenomenal growth of new towns in India bears the imprint of her heritage in this field of culture and civilization. Mohenjodaro and Harappa, dating back to the Indus Valley civilization, Ayodhya, Pataliputra (present Patna) and Varanasi laid out by Indo Aryans during the Vedic period, Nalanda and Taxila built to serve as University towns during the Buddhist period. Agra, Golconda and "Dacca" (Bangladesh) of mediaeval period, Fatehpur Sikri of the Moghul period, Jaipur the 'pink city built by Maharaja Jai Singh during the 18th century and Lutyen's New Delhi (1930) are some of the classic examples of new towns built to satisfy the needs and aspirations of urban community during different periods. 

The new town movement of India in the recent past is associated with the beginning of railway towns of British India. These railway towns being formed of an assortment of quarter, for railway employees, stations and other transportational facilities made a sizeable settlement with minimum possible layout and service facilities. The towns mainly designed on 'grid iron' pattern and provided community facilities like market, temples, churches, schools, playground, cinema and theatre gave the look of a new town. Kharagpur, Asansol, Tundla, Manmad and Waltair are the landmarks in this field of new towns in colonial India. 

By 1941, India had more than 30 such towns having capacity of more than 10,000 people each. Till independence development of new towns followed this pattern with a few exceptions like Jamshedpur. Development of new towns in the truest sense in India took a turn after independence. The partition of the country in 1947 resulted in influx of refugees from east and west and their rehabilitation marked the beginning of new towns in modern India. Faridabad near Delhi, Nilokheri in Punjab, Gandhidham in Gujarat and Asokenagar in West Bengal are examples of refugee township in India. 

The new towns built in the first phase lack in design aspect and differ from European and American Standards. But it should be admitted that India started making new towns at a very difficult hour. It was Pandit Jahawarlal Nehru, the then Prime Minister of India wished decent layout of these new townships. He invited the great designer from France, viz. Le Corbusier and gave him the task of designing Chandigarh. His architectural designs and creations became a source of inspiration to other young nations. Creation of Chandigarh was a historic moment in the contemporary annals of town planning. In fact Chandigarh was the 'flag off" stage in the race of town building in India. 

In recent times, India has seen a spurt in such planned townships and a significant number of consumers living in major urban centres are becoming interested in the idea of living in the number of planned townships that are being built away from major urban hubs and chaos. Let us have a look at some of these new towns which are redefining the way people live in our country. 

  • Navi Mumbai Navi Mumbai is a planned satellite township of Mumbai on the west coast of Maharashtra. Navi Mumbai covering 95 villages 
  • New Town, Kolkata New Town, formerly known as Rajarhat, is a fast emerging satellite township in Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA) and it is expected that it will be able to absorb additional population growth and help in easing the burden on Kolkata 
  • Lavasa is a private, planned city being built near Pune by the Hindustan Construction Company (HCC)

1) Navi Mumbai 

Navi Mumbai is a planned satellite township of Mumbai on the west coast of Maharashtra. After it was created in 1971, City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) was the only authority that looked after the development and maintenance of the city. It was CIDCO which prepared the developmental plan for Navi Mumbai covering 95 villages. In 1991, Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) was constituted by the Maharashtra government for maintaining some of the developed nodes of Navi Mumbai, namely, Belapur, Nerul, Turbhe, Koparkhairane, Ghansoli, Airoli,and Vashi. 
Navi Mumbai is home to many software companies of Maharashtra, located in various parks. These include the Millennium Business Park in Mahape, the International InfoTech Park at Vashi, and the Belapur railway station complex. It is also home to major commodity markets as well as a major steel market. One of the important business landmarks is the shipping port of Jawaharlal Nehru Port in the Nhava Sheva – Dronagiri nodes. The major business hubs in the city are CBD Belapur, Vashi, Nerul, and Mahape. The Navi Mumbai Special Economic Zone (SEZ) located in the nodes of Dronagiri and Kalamboli is planned to provide commercial growth and employment to the city. Positioned enroute the proposed Navi Mumbai Airport, this megaproject has attracted investments close to Rs 40,000 crores. 

2) New Town, Kolkata 

New Town, formerly known as Rajarhat, is a fast emerging satellite township in Kolkata Metropolitan Area (KMA) and it is expected that it will be able to absorb additional population growth and help in easing the burden on Kolkata. The West Bengal Housing and Infrastructure Development Corporation (HIDCO) plans and executes development projects in the entire 6,000 - 7,000 hectare area in New Town. In order to render the various civic services and amenities within New Town, the New Town Kolkata Development Authority (NKDA) was constituted under the New Town Kolkata Development Authority Act, 2007. 
Towns master plan envisages a township at least three times bigger than the neighbouring planned Salt Lake City. The entire area is still under the process of development. As a planned township, New Town has been divided into three key areas: Action Area I, which mainly consists of malls, a sub Central Business District (CBD) and planned residential and commercial plots. Action Area II is to have a planned main CBD, institutional plots, IT Business Parks like DLF and Unitech, and plots for large apartment complexes. Action Area III mainly consists of high rise residential complexes and mini sub-townships like Uniworld City and Sukhobristi. 

3) Lavasa 

Lavasa is a private, planned city being built near Pune by the Hindustan Construction Company (HCC). Among the first planned hill cities of India, Lavasa is approximately 1/5th of the land area of the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai. Located near the Mumbai-Pune economic corridor, along the Warasgaon Lake, Lavasa optimally balances nature and urban infrastructure. The master plan of Lavasa is based on the principles of New Urbanism which makes life easy for its residents by placing all essential components of daily life within walking distance of each other. Besides this, architectural considerations such as land character, building frontage, and other design guidelines have also been taken into consideration while making the master plan. 
Developments at Lavasa are well on schedule, and the Dasve town center is currently under an advanced stage development. While the Dasve Town Centre is already functional, all structures in education, hospitality, and leisure are fast-nearing completion. Mugaon, is 6 kms from Dasve and is being developed as a centre for residential, educational, business and commercial activities. This town has shops, cafes, cultural institutions, spiritual centres, schools, and colleges. 
Various green initiatives have been undertaken to provide a healthy life to the inhabitants of New Town. The NKDA is working on plans to set up a dedicated green walkway stretching several kilometers in the township for people to walk and breathe fresh air without having the trouble to avoid cars and other polluting vehicles coming their way. A master plan, which has been approved by the Centre, has also been prepared for developing New Town as a solar city. It mentions ways to reduce the projected energy demand from conventional power sources by following two strategies one is by use of solar and renewable power sources and another is by using more energy efficient devices. Already, a long stretch of the main arterial road in Action Area I has been illuminated with LED streetlights and more such lights will be installed on various roads in the township. 
Recently, West Bengals Transport Department and HIDCO came up with a plan to jointly set up a state of the art international bus terminus at New Town, the first of its kind in the state. The terminus will have cafes and rest rooms and services for inter-city, inter-state, and international bus routes will be operated from there. New Town is also witnessing a major real estate boom. This year, a 2.5 acre plot in the township fetched HIDCO a whopping Rs 57.33 crore. It amounts to Rs. 23 crore per acre. Lately, HIDCO has been reaping rich harvest by auctioning off plots in the township for commercial purposes.