New London Architecture

Co-location, urban integration and changing perceptions

Thursday 06 January 2022

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Catriona Fraser


Following the first introductory session of this Expert Panel in August 2021, we came together again at the start of December to further delve into the key themes that were emerging from our initial discussion. 
These key themes included the role, purpose, and future of ‘co-location’ (mix of residential and industrial/employment) in London; and the urban integration of industrial and logistics uses within local communities and challenges surrounding it.  
We concluded our session by tying up these themes in considering the community perception (and perhaps even misconceptions) surrounding them and how this Panel can share experience, knowledge and solutions to alleviate perceived concerns and share the benefit of logistics moving into our neighbourhoods. 


Research has begun looking at approved and pending co-location schemes across London to better understand if this model, described in Policy E7 of the London Plan (2021), does indeed contribute towards the Mayor’s ambitious housing targets whilst in tandem allowing for the intensification, and potentially uplift, of much needed industrial and logistics supply. 
The Panel discussed that one of the sector’s key concerns to the co-location approach will be the loss of ‘big box’ B2/B8 industrial units, as well as the absolute requirement to ensure that the ‘Agent of Change’ principle is fully integrated into any scheme to ensure that the industrial component can work to its full capacity and is not restricted by any nearby residential elements. The research is currently showing that the most favourable employment-generating use included in these types of schemes falls within Class E (g, iii), i.e. light industrial/‘creative’ industries, followed by Class B8 and then Class B2. 
Whilst the mix of residential and industrial uses tends to achieve key policy principles at planning and design stage, it will be key to understand how these schemes work in practice, once constructed, particularly in terms of the co-existence between 24/7 employment-generating activities (including related transport, servicing and delivery strategies) and residential amenity.

Urban Integration

The panel then moved on to the important topic of urban integration. The demand for industrial and logistics space is growing and that trend, and therefore demand, is not expected to slow down. Last mile logistics plays an important part in the way we live now with operators increasingly needing space to service the ‘next (or same) day delivery model’. The sector therefore needs to find a way to ensure that this growing demand can fit into our communities without compromising the operational needs (i.e. 24/7 operation) of its occupiers.  
With industrial and logistics space increasingly moving into our neighbourhoods and urban centres, it is important to look elsewhere to understand ‘lessons learnt’ and best practice examples where industrial and residential uses successfully co-exist. We know that places such as Singapore and Amsterdam, among many, have successfully integrated logistics uses within sensitive areas of their cities.  
Our discussion also led us to the potential requirement to carefully review London’s Green Belt, especially in regard to previously developed land, and the opportunity a portion of well-connected land parcels (not fulfilling the main objectives of the Green Belt as set out in the NPPF) could provide for the sector.  

Moving forward – Perceptions and misconceptions

The key theme running through our discussion was ‘community’. There has to be an acknowledgement of what we want as a community now, with the results of the pandemic here to stay, i.e. greater demand on internet shopping and the requirement to better understand the consequences of a different way of living. This therefore requires operators, developers, local authorities as well as policy makers to openly discuss the needs of this sector to service requirements brought about by its customers: the community. This industry will need to showcase best practice and share lessons learnt alongside innovative solutions to perceived concerns with urban integration and co-location to ensure that local communities in London fully understand the need for this sector and its requirements to meet common expectations for the movement of goods.
Whilst we certainly do not have all the answers to these emerging issues, we believe that through our continued research and knowledge-sharing we can strongly position the industrial and logistics sector in London to address its future challenges and give it the recognition it deserves in the wider community.

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Catriona Fraser


Industrial & Logistics



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