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Why Sunder Nagar continues to be the ultimate address of the uber-rich in Delhi

Central location, exclusivity fuelled by very limited availability, bragging rights and more reasons why Delhi's ultra rich are spending tens of crores on smaller houses with next to no redevelopment potential

LBZ rules prevent coverage of greater area or rebuilding in Sunder Nagar. The result: an enviably low skyline.

LBZ rules prevent coverage of greater area or rebuilding in Sunder Nagar. The result: an enviably low skyline.

The last few months have witnessed a flurry of real estate deals being struck in Delhi’s tony Sunder Nagar area, and that’s to do with the location: the address it offers is part of Lutyen’s Delhi.

The houses in Sunder Nagar are almost five decades old, yet they do not come cheap. On March 10, 2021, a bungalow spread across 867 sq. yards (roughly 725 sq. m.) was registered for Rs 67 crore. The house has been bought by a famous industrialist, according to data by Zapkey.com, an online platform that collates publicly available property registration data.

Another bungalow in the same area was registered on February 17 for Rs 74 crore. This is a 866.66 sq. yard property; and was bought by a well-known legal luminary, data accessed by Zapkey.com showed.

Brokers active in the area told Moneycontrol that most bungalows in the area are 865 sq. yards with a ground and first floor and a barsati on the second floor that doubles up as a one-bedroom house. The total built-up area of these houses is approximately 7,000-8,000 sq. ft.

“At the price at which these bungalows have been sold recently, the per sq. yard price works out to be close to Rs 8 lakh per sq. yard. This is reasonable by Lutyens’ (Delhi) standards. Most bungalows in Golf Links area have plots of 1,250 sq. yard and command a price of around Rs 141-150 crore which works out to be close to Rs 11 lakh per sq. yard,” brokers said.

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The area has been witnessing traction among the ultra-wealthy of late, because people want to buy houses closer to their workplace. “Most of the buyers are either industrialists or lawyers. The area is popular because of the small inventory and the fact that there are strict restrictions on height, construction and redevelopment as the area is part of the Lutyens’ zone,” Amit Goyal, CEO, India Sotheby's International Realty, said.

Unlike, other areas in Delhi where a lot of redevelopment activity takes place, locations that are part of the Lutyens’ zone cannot be redeveloped or additional floors constructed. “There is no possibility of additional coverage or floors and no pressure on infrastructure. Low density ensures that the area remains exclusive,” adds Goyal.

Lutyens Bungalow Zone (LBZ) is in the heart of the capital and is an exclusive ‘zone’ spread across nearly 19.1 sq. km.

Since it is a heritage zone, there are strict height, floor-area ratio (FAR) and reconstruction norms. This is primarily to protect the low skyline. While these areas certainly offer the luxury of an address, they do not provide the luxury of space. The plot size may be big, the developed or built-up area could be much less. There is also little scope for redevelopment due to strict building norms.

The Sunder Nagar area came up more than 50 years ago. Initially, all plots were lease hold which eventually were granted freehold rights.

Most bungalows located in the LBZ are coveted addresses. Amrita Shergill Marg, Prithviraj Road and Dr APJ Abdul Kalam Road, which form the core of LBZ, are known as billionaires’ row and comprise the “ultimate address” of the uber-rich.

In Central Delhi, properties include independent houses spread across 375 sq. yards, 575 sq. yards and 1,250 sq. yards in Jor Bagh; independent houses in Golf Links almost of similar sizes; and independent houses of 867 sq. yards in Sunder Nagar. On Malcha Marg or Rajdoot Marg, independent house plots range from 375 sq. yards to 720 sq. yards.

A host of independent houses are available in areas such as SP Marg, Kautilya Marg, Tees January Marg, Prithviraj Road, Amrita Shergill Marg, KG Marg, Barakhamba Road and Hailey Road.

In 2015, the Delhi Urban Art Commission (DUAC) had proposed changing the building guidelines in LBZ, shrinking the tony area by 5 sq. km to 23 sq. km, and excluding eight neighbourhoods: Bengali Market, Golf Links, Sunder Nagar, parts of Jor Bagh, Mandir Marg, Chanakyapuri, Sardar Patel Marg and Panchsheel Marg.

This meant development in these colonies could happen as per the Master Plan of Delhi-2021 (MPD-2021) that allows FAR of up to 300, depending on plot size as compared to the older LBZ guidelines that restricted it at whatever the current FAR of the plot is.

Among the high-ticket deals that have taken place in other parts of Delhi this year, Sunil Vachani, chairman and managing director of Dixon Technologies, is a case in point. He bought a 1,250-sq. yard bungalow in the leafy Golf Links for Rs 170 crore, which translates to Rs 1.5 lakh per sq. ft, brokers told Moneycontrol. This is a direct deal and no broker was involved.

Ashok Jaipuria, founder of Cosmo Films in February bought a 1,200 sq. yard bungalow in south Delhi’s West End Colony for about Rs 80 crore.
Vandana Ramnani

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