New London Architecture

Co-Location in London: Is it still stacking up?

Tuesday 07 March 2023

Christopher Schiele

Associate Director
Turley

One year on from the publication of Turley’s first Co-Location report the question remains as to whether this innovative mixed-use development model - combining industrial with residential uses - 'stacks up' when it comes to addressing London's housing and industrial land needs.

Building on the data gathered on strategic Co-Location schemes in the development pipeline since 2019 [1], we recently published our second report on a model which is still in its infancy, but subject to intense debate across the built environment industry, also featuring in last month’s NLA report Industrial & Logistics: Can London deliver?.

Since publishing our first Co-Location report, we registered many discussion topics, opportunities and on-going concerns associated with the model including, but not limited to, the compatibility between employment and residential uses, uncertainties in relation to delivery on the ground and the way the schemes operate in practice, and whether we really include or re-provide the ‘right’ industrial and logistics uses capable of addressing identified local needs.

What the headline figures of our research continue to show is that Co-Location schemes have the potential to become a significant contributor to London’s housing targets by delivering over 30,000 new homes across the capital. This is even more impressive when considering that we are talking about the introduction of residential uses on both designated and non-designated industrial sites. 

At the same time, these schemes also provide approx. 372,000 sqm of new employment floorspace - an overall uplift of approx. 100,000 sqm compared to the existing provision on those sites - with more than two-thirds of schemes (c.71%) delivering an uplift in industrial floorspace on-site. This is evidence that the London Plan’s industrial (and Co-Location) policies – with their tough stance towards the re-provision of existing floorspace – are having the desired effect, at least in numerical terms.

However, we need to critically ask whether the much-needed and essential employment elements in Co-Location schemes truly cater to modern industrial and logistics occupiers’ and their requirement for fit-for-purpose, yet flexible, spaces allowing for the fast flow of goods or accommodating our manufacturing needs. Although excelling in achieving a net intensification of floorspace, our research continues to show a consistent trend towards a reduction in more traditional industrial uses (i.e. B2, B8 and sui generis-type employment uses) across sites brought forward for Co-Location. 

Making up almost 76% of the land uses prior to planning, this reduces to only 46% across all schemes in the pipeline — predominantly being replaced by light industrial workspace (i.e. Use Class E(g)(iii), former B1(c)). Whilst seemingly more compatible in a changing context with the introduction of residential elements, it is apparent that the market is divided on whether the loss of those traditional uses is an unintended coproduct of Co-Location and an issue that both the public and private sector should focus on. If the evidence of schemes – once built-out (and we positively register that 57% of the developments we reviewed show signs of implementation) – demonstrates that those light industrial workspace uses are attractive to the market and in demand across all locations, we may conclude that this apparent shift is indeed a success story, but until then the industry rightfully questions the perceived loss of heavier and/or 24/7-employment uses. This is particularly important where we are also confronted with an often limited land availability to replace those ‘traditional’ uses and when considering that many local authorities (and private developers) continue to identify a significant need for such uses in their most recent evidence base documents or needs assessments.

Encouragingly, we are registering an increased level of such up-to-date evidence as well as a trend towards the adoption of more – and clearer – policy guidance by Local Planning Authorities, with an increasing number having adopted (or intending to adopt) dedicated Co-Location policies, or more detailed policy guidance concerning the release and intensification of industrial land. However, the continued success of Co-Location as a concept still requires a lot of hard work from architects, developers, planners and other professionals in our sector, and their efforts to produce new and innovative design solutions to ensure that these two ‘seemingly incompatible’ uses can co-exist in harmony. 

Our report concludes that the year ahead could prove to be a testing one for Co-Location as a concept. The proposed changes to the fire regulations, for instance, are likely to have significant implications for building heights and layouts, and ultimately a scheme’s viability. The more that Co-Location is seen to work in practice, the more that confidence in the concept will grow - as will our understanding of what makes for a truly successful Co-Location scheme. 

 [1] Including planning applications referable to the Greater London Authority only. 
Download 'Co-Location in London. Is it still stacking up?' Download 'Industrial & Logistics: Can London Deliver?'


Christopher Schiele

Associate Director
Turley



Recent

Expert Assessors announced for Reimagine London

News

Expert Assessors announced for Reimagine London

Introducing the wide range of prestigious expert assessors from NLA's extensive network who will be assessing the creati...

What role can the workspace play in creating a sense of community?

News

What role can the workspace play in creating a sense of community?

Future Places Studio, in partnership with HB Reavis UK, is undertaking a piece of research that seeks to explore why Lon...

Five Minutes With...HAQUE TAN

News

Five Minutes With...HAQUE TAN

David Taylor meets Usman Haque and Ling Tan of new design studio HAQUE TAN to talk about its new AI-inspired interactive...

Stay in touch

Upgrade your plan

Choose the right membership for your business

Billing type:
All prices exclude VAT
View options for Personal membership