The simultaneous snowballing of the housing crisis, a global pandemic and the changing mechanisms and logistics of urban industry is fuelling a debate of land valuation – both fiscally, and psychologically. What value does industry provide in an urban setting? Should much-needed residential development trump the retention of large swathes of low-density industry? Or - as new modes and typologies of development are beginning to explore - how can architects and developers co-locate these two classes in physical symbiosis? The New London Plan launched in March by Sadiq Khan seeks to address this.
The New London Plan sets course for a sustainable rejigging of urban industrial lands, recognizing their potential for residential development. Specifically, the Plan posits a council-led restructuring of industrial lands, ensuring a measured, forward-thinking, and accountable means of urban development. The process is defined by:
3. Substitution of land
What is co-location?
Co-location is a relatively new concept for delivering employment space alongside housing in order
to increase the capacity of brownfield sites.
The plan outlines the need for 66,000 additional homes a year, with a 10-year housing target of 520,000 new homes.
Sadiq Khan proposes no intrusion into the Greenbelt nor green spaces, and a reduction to the amount of permitted development schemes. This is placing increased pressure on densification of existing development (specifically brownfield and infill sites), and the consideration of extensive residential development on previously dismissed sites. Notably, The New London Plan sets out a process for the release of Industrial Land, for the purposes of residential development.
“The Mayor strongly supports the continued protection of London’s Green Belt... London’s Green Belt makes up 22 per cent of London’s land area and performs multiple beneficial functions for London, such as combating the urban heat island effect, growing food, and providing space for recreation. It also provides the vital function of containing the further expansion of built development. This has helped to drive the re-use and intensification of London’s previously developed brownfield land to ensure London makes efficient use of its land and infrastructure, and that inner urban areas benefit from regeneration and investment.”
The London Plan, March 2021
The Greater London Area contains 7000 hectares of industrial land. This represents a mere 4.5% of land, yet supports above half a million jobs. Most of these lands are concentrated to the East (around London's historic Thames docklands), and West (surrounding Heathrow's air cargo centres). Other pockets of industrial land have slowly been denigrated, both by a decline in manufacturing and encroaching development.
Industrial Land in London is classified into SIL (Strategic Industrial Land), and LSIL (Local Strategic Industrial Land), with protection afforded by the GLA, and by local councils, respectively. In recent years, the reduction of industrial land has surpassed 100 hectares per annum, a figure three times above the GLA's intended release rate of 37 hectares per annum.
Within this Policy lies the potential for planners, developers, and architects to develop new typologies, technologies, and means of living which allow industry and residential to co-exist in urban environments without prejudice, detriment, or undesirability.
Consumer demand for sustainable practices are also forcing industry to become greener and cleaner; this inherently makes them better neighbours, and is reducing apprehension for their presence in urban centres. However, the 24/7 servicing and access required for industrial spaces, as well as noise and airborne pollution, represent barriers to their co-mingling with residential development.
What does it look like?
It is with this shifting landscape over the past 4 years, in March 2021 Tribe successfully achieved a joint planning application for Trundley's Road: both a residential scheme as well as 393 student accommodation units, 58 affordable home and 19,000sqft of commercial floorspace, developed through 7 pre-application meetings and 2 GLA meetings. Located in the London Borough of Lewisham for Tribe Student Housing.
Formation Architects designed the scheme in collaboration with Avison Young, Ardent, Studio Bosk, Form, Taylor Projects and Clarke Banks.
Located on an industrial site in the heart of the New Cross Opportunity Area, the scheme provides a significant increase in quantum, and quality of industrial space. The total GIA industrial uses has been increased by 168%. This is an example of a successful co-location of industrial and residential on the same site.
The accommodation set above the industrial units is made up of 2 blocks – Block A, the student housing block, has 15 storeys with a communal space including: a lounge, games room, study areas, cinema and arts studio. This block has access to an external communal space in the form of high quality landscaped grounds. Block B, the mixed tenure affordable housing block was designed tenure blind, it shares a communal terrace and is made up of 9 storeys.
The design references the industrial heritage of the site, and as such the scheme is designed with cladding made up of pre-cast red and brown panels.
Front of house access from Trundley’s Road allows visibility, a proper address, and a public facing element to all industrial units. Providing shell and core ensures greater flexibility for user fit-out. The development proposals will provide flexible and adaptable commercial floorspace of B1c/B2/B8 at ground and mezzanine floors to replace existing SIL floorspace. The commercial floorspace will suit light industry (including creative building enterprises such as set or stage designers), warehousing, micro manufacturers, etc. Equally, the scheme could accommodate the automotive enterprises currently on site.