Although schools and hospitals help add value to borey projects and major residential developments, many new dwellings in Cambodia neglect these community services, reflecting the sales-orientated mentality of many development companies.
There are more than 100 borey projects in Phnom Penh, but few have schools in or near the borey.
Seventy-year-old school teacher Touch Vat said previous authorities had made an effort to construct schools in proximity to residential neighbourhoods.
“In the old days, circa 1970-1980, when there were dozens to hundreds of families in a community, the government would draft plans to build schools nearby because the children needed a place for education,” he said.
“But in this day and age, because residential development projects are placed in the hands of investors, they only concentrate on building as many houses as they can to maximise profits.
“They do not think about the long-term future of the residents,” Vat said.
Chrek Soknim, CEO of Century 21 Mekong, said there has yet to be a borey project in Cambodia that promises to build or leave space to build schools or hospitals within the borey compound.
“Developers only care to build houses to sell,” he said. However, Soknim acknowledged that ING City was a large-scale project that was in proximity to the International School of Phnom Penh (ISPP).
He said that in general, schools and other community infrastructure, such as hospitals, add to the value of a nearby property.
“Properties around or close to schools are generally more expensive than other places, and they are more coveted too because customers always think of the future of their children,” he said.
Chantha, a senior staff member at a private company, said his friend told him to buy a house close to ISPP because they believed the property value would increase substantially in the near future.
“Houses around ISPP include villas, which cost $1 million each and mixed villas, which cost $300,000 each,” he said.
Meanwhile, Sorn Seap, vice president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association, said among the many borey projects on the outskirts of Phnom Penh, only two include schools.
According to Seap, accessible education facilities should be a key factor for residential developers as it can add to the value of the overall project.
“To ensure that all the residential houses are sustainable, developers ought to think about four main aspects of infrastructure: roads and public space, schools and hospitals, supermarkets which includes traditional markets and malls, and an administrative service centre,” Seap said.
“All these four foundations play a part in determining the success and support given to the development project. I think, at the very least, all borey project developers should consider leaving some land to develop a school, hospital or market,” he said.
Soknim said general year-on-year property value increases in Cambodia were high, but noted that having a school or other facilities nearby can further boost a property’s appeal.
“If you’re talking about the overall property value increase [in Cambodia], it can be from seven to 10 percent a year which is higher than the GDP of Cambodia,” he said.
“On the other hand, the property value increase for areas around schools can be higher than the overall rate or even significantly much, much higher, depending on how well the school is operating.”