Green gold: Parks’ impact on real estate

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By Joseph Wong

In the bustling heart of urban jungles, where concrete towers pierce the sky and traffic hums incessantly, pockets of green serenity offer a breath of fresh air. Parks, often considered the lungs of a city, provide more than just recreational spaces - they significantly impact the real estate industry. Parks transform neighbourhoods, elevate property values and contribute to the overall well-being of communities.

It is undeniable that the presence of parks in urban areas has a direct and positive impact on property values. Properties located near well-maintained parks and green spaces tend to have higher market values compared to those that lack such amenities. This increase in value is driven by the desirable living conditions that parks create. 

Prospective homebuyers and renters often seek residences that offer easy access to recreational spaces, scenic views and a tranquil environment. As a result, real estate developers and investors recognise the importance of integrating parks into urban planning to boost property appeal and marketability.

This can already be seen in many property developments within the Klang Valley such as Desa ParkCity, Tropicana Metropark, Gamuda Gardens, Setia Eco Templer and City of Elmina to name a few. Cyberjaya and Putrajaya have multiple parks and similarly further south, Bandar Sri Sendayan in Seremban also has equally impressive parks.

Certainly all the bigger developers have hinged their larger project with ample greenery and even lakes, knowing full well that the market demand has shifted towards a healthier lifestyle especially with the nationwide push towards the environmental, social and governance (ESG) agenda.

It is also part and parcel of the government policy which mandates that all local councils reserve and designate 10% of land as open and recreational space for housing developments as well as for commercial, industrial, institutional and mixed-use projects.

Transforming neighbourhoods

Parks play a crucial role in transforming neighbourhoods by fostering a sense of community and improving the quality of life for residents. Green spaces serve as communal gathering spots where people can engage in various activities such as picnicking, jogging, playing sports or simply relaxing. This fosters social interaction, strengthens community bonds and creates a more cohesive neighbourhood. Additionally, parks often become cultural hubs, hosting events, festivals and performances that enrich the local culture and attract visitors from other parts of the city.

The well-being and health benefits provided by parks are substantial. Access to green spaces encourages physical activities such as walking, running and cycling, which are essential for maintaining physical health. Parks also offer a natural respite from the stresses of urban life, providing a peaceful environment where individuals can unwind and rejuvenate. The presence of trees and plants improves air quality, reduces pollution and creates a cooler microclimate, contributing to the overall health of city dwellers.

Beyond the immediate real estate and social impacts, parks bring broader economic and environmental benefits to urban areas. Green spaces can boost local economies by attracting tourists, enhancing retail activity and increasing the desirability of nearby commercial properties. Environmentally, parks play a vital role in urban ecosystems by supporting biodiversity, managing stormwater runoff, and reducing the urban heat island effect. These benefits collectively contribute to the sustainability and resilience of cities.

Poor maintenance history

While it sounds all good and rosy, unfortunately, there is a dark side. Malaysia has a poor history of maintaining its urban parks, which can suffer from neglect and inadequate upkeep. While fingers are usually and quickly pointed at local councils, the challenges in park maintenance stems from insufficient funding, a lack of community engagement, inadequate infrastructure and environmental factors.

One of the primary challenges is the lack of sufficient funding for park maintenance. Budget constraints often lead to reduced staffing, limited resources for upkeep and delayed repairs or enhancements. Moreover, effective park maintenance requires active community involvement. However, there is often a lack of awareness and engagement among residents, leading to vandalism, littering and a general disregard for the upkeep of these public spaces.

Many older parks suffer from poor infrastructure, such as broken benches, damaged playgrounds and poorly maintained walking paths. Malaysia's tropical climate, characterised by heavy rainfall and high humidity, accelerates wear and tear on park facilities. This necessitates more frequent maintenance, which is often not adequately addressed.

For now, the above-mentioned parks are in good condition as their respective developers are still very much involved in their maintenance. Acknowledging the eventual handing of the parks to local councils in the future, many developers have incorporated self-sustainable measures into the parks that they have developed.

For example, the selection of aquatic flora and fauna that can help to maintain and keep lakes clean, the usage of materials that can better withstand wear and tear or opting for indigenous plants that can survive and thrive in the local environment. Such measures could reduce the cost of maintenance by as much as 50%.

By investing in and preserving these green spaces, cities can ensure a healthier, more vibrant and sustainable future for their residents.

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