If used correctly, redevelopment can be an economic engine that provides additional and better quality housing, helps in boosting property values, creates jobs, expands business opportunities, eliminates urban decay and improves infrastructure. Other potential benefits of redevelopment are reduced urban sprawl, improved economic competitiveness of a city’s centre and better opportunities for safety and surveillance.
On a cautionary note, redevelopment sometimes involves the use of eminent domain as a legal instrument to take private property for city-initiated development projects. This is sometimes seen as a means for regulatory bodies to acquire control on behalf of influential developers or developer cartels.
If carried out in a non-consultative manner, redevelopment can result in an excess of high rises that compromise existing infrastructure, reduce the possibility of new infrastructure and increase the crime rate in a location. In order to be genuinely democratic, the process of redevelopment must be consultative at all levels. It should enable local citizens to have greater control and ownership of the direction of their community.
Community participation, sustainability and trust are important watchwords. The Government must act as advocate and ‘enabler’, rather than as an agency that enforces command and control.
Finally, redevelopment should not be only about improving existing structures. There should also be a focus on incorporating of historic structures into new and rehabilitated development. In cities like Mumbai, it is important to preserve and enhance cultural, historical and community assets. The cultural fabric of the community must not be compromised.