Industrial & Logistics: Can London Deliver?
NLA's latest report, ‘Industrial & Logistics: Can London Deliver?’, provides an in-depth look at London’s vital Industrial & Logistics sector, featuring exclusive viewpoints from key organisations in the industry – including the Greater London Authority, Aukett Swanke, Prologis UK, and Turley.
The report draws on research, interviews, and roundtable discussions with sector leaders, making recommendations of practical and realistic solutions for the future of London’s Industrial & Logistics sector.
Going beyond London, the report delves into how other cities around the world from New York to Tokyo have focussed on balancing goods movement and neighbourhood needs to create more liveable communities, and an extensive project showcase highlights the innovation and ambition of a sector that keeps London running.
By Peter Murray, Co-founder, NLA
Jules Pipe, Deputy Mayor of London for Planning, Regeneration and Skills, opened the NLA’s exhibition WRK-LDN — shaping London’s future workplaces back in 2016 soon after Sadiq Khan had been elected as Mayor. As we toured the show, I remember discussing with the Deputy Mayor the findings of the research which showed that land and space for commercial and industrial uses were under threat due to massive demands for housing and higher land values. Uncontrolled office-to-residential developments had resulted in the loss of thousands of square metres of office and industrial spaces across the capital.
About 50 per cent of industrial land in central London had disappeared since 2001, and vacancy rates for industrial spaces were nearing unsustainable levels. Although the exhibition took place some time before COVID, even then it was obvious that greater demand for online retailing meant that people expected purchases to be delivered in ever shorter timescales, and so good locations with easy access to central London were increasingly sought after.
We recommended expanding exemptions to permitted development rights to protect London’s designated industrial and commercial land and spaces as a priority.
We highlighted the new types of buildings that integrate living, working, making, logistics, manufacturing and leisure that were starting to appear in major cities worldwide.
We suggested that, as land costs remained high, the need to accommodate more uses in less space required greater density and intensification of development. Bold steps were needed, the research found, to ensure that workspace was integrated within new mixed-use building types, and not lost to higher-value uses.
Local authorities should encourage discussions, we said, between developers, space managers and occupiers to create more mixed-use schemes and more innovative typologies of design and development that accommodate diverse uses. Design-led solutions for industrial schemes could address the critical need to accommodate industrial and logistical uses closer to the potential customer at a time when land values are increasing.
The Draft London Plan published nearly a year later in July acknowledged that the capital had released industrial land three times faster than planned. It included directives to boroughs and developers, with clear instructions to "support and sustain Strategic Industrial Locations (SIL) by considering opportunities to intensify and make more efficient use of land in SIL" (in accordance with Policies E4 to E7) specifically in Opportunity Areas to ensure their growth and regeneration potential was fully realised. It suggested that development proposals should be proactive and encourage the intensification of business uses in Use Classes B1c, B2 and B8 occupying all categories of industrial land by introducing small units, developing multi-storey schemes, and generally using land more efficiently through higher plot ratios.
What neither NLA nor the Mayor foresaw was the rapid increase in demand for home deliveries as a result of COVID and the dramatic shift in the value of residential and industrial land.
This report builds on NLA's studies of seven years ago and updates its thinking in light of these fast- changing circumstances. It shows how the design and development community is responding positively to the needs of the industrial and logistics sector and its vital role in supporting London’s economy.
06 Executive summary
14 Three questions for the capital
- How can London deliver enough of the right sort of industrial space?
- How can we rethink the logistics network?
- Can logistics be a good neighbour and employer?
35 International solutions
39 Testing scenarios
53 Project showcase
83 Company profiles
Published February 2023