Mixed-use housing in Indian cities: a data snapshot


Mixed-use development has gained popularity in the field of urban planning, particularly in Indian megacities, where economic activity and residential lives are often situated in close proximity to each other. This data tale analyses NSSO data to provide a snapshot of residential houses reporting mixed-use in urban areas of India.

Mixed-use development has gained popularity in the field of urban planning, particularly in Indian megacities, where economic activity and residential lives are often situated in close proximity to each other. Encouraging planned mixed-use development turns out to be beneficial on many counts – from increasing female labour force participation to a growth in rent economies and creating more vibrant neighbourhoods.

This data tale analyses NSSO data to provide a snapshot of (residential) houses reporting mixed-use in urban areas of India. It focuses on houses that are being fully or partly occupied for residential purposes and not solely for commercial purposes. Houses in the survey were categorised into three groups based on their usage: residential use, residential-cum-commercial use, and residential-cum-others (for example non-economic uses like recreation club, party office etc.) The latter two constitute mixed-use for the purpose of this analysis, from which three main findings emerge.

A. Mixed-use development has not substantially increased over time

Efficiency of zoning and development control regulations related to urban land and housing has gained increasing importance since the onset of urban governance reforms proposed under the JnNURM in 2005. However, as the figure below shows, not much resultant change been observed over time, where the share of houses under mixed-use only marginally increased from 8.43% in 2001 to 8.9% in 2008-09 and 8.5% in 2018. The low shares of mixed-use development in India’s cities over time raises important questions about integration of economy and planning in our urban visions.


B. Legal clarity encourages mixed-use

Within cities, notified slums and non-slum areas report a higher share of mixed-use housing than non-notified slums and squatter settlements, as evident from the following graph. While non-slum areas vary widely by legality of tenure status and the process of slum notification has remained sluggish across states over time, it can be safely assumed that some sort of tenurial legitimacy encourages people to take up economic activities in their residential premises.


C. There are large state and city-wide variations in mixed-use

A state-wise analysis of the data shows large variations in terms of the share of houses used for other purposes. The map below also indicates that it is not always the highly urbanized states that show a higher share of mixed-use residences. For example, West Bengal, which has an urbanisation level only marginally higher than the national average, has the highest share of mixed-use of residential houses (17%), followed by Bihar (11%), which also has very low levels of urbanization. On the other hand, highly urbanised states like Tamil Nadu (4%) or Haryana (5%) are at the lower end of the spectrum. Thus, individual state policies promoting micro-level activities in cities matter in case of growth in mixed-use of houses.

As the chart below indicates, million-plus cities show higher share of mixed-use of residential houses (9.2%) than smaller cities (8.1%). Within the top eight million-plus cities, there are wide variations as well, with Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore reporting higher share of mixed-use development. Comparing this with the map above, it can be seen that the share of residential mixed-use in megacities also differ from their respective state urban averages: while in Chennai and Mumbai it is higher than their respective state shares, Ahmedabad has a much lower share than Gujarat.

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About the Author(s):

Shamindra Nath Roy

Kanhu

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