New London Architecture

Supporting urban logistics

Tuesday 01 November 2022

Tom Alexander

Director
Aukett Swanke

Reflecting on the latest Industrial and Logistics expert panel meeting, Tom Alexander summarises the introduction of the new members and outlines this year's key objectives.

Industrial and Logistics operations and the exploration of their ongoing urban integration into London’s communities is an invigorating participant in the city’s overall evolution. The life patterns we have grown used to are driving the need to further understand and integrate existing and new industrial and logistics activities with our living, working, relaxing and moving times. The huge variety in technological sophistication and scale of these operations means each site and its neighbourhood needs a close look at for the safe and healthy blending of people, vehicles and tenant activities. Along with these urban land uses and their intensifications, the need for coordinated access to and from the sites and their potential environmental contributions continue to be key topics for this year’s expert panel to explore and suggest strategic proposals for London.

The first session back with this year’s panel saw a few changes over the summer so we would firstly like to offer many thanks to the contributions and time given by previous members, and to welcome the new members joining this year, all listed out below. The panel has actually grown reflecting the scale and level of interest in this aspect of urban life.

All panel members briefly introduced themselves and outlined their involvement and views, offering an enhanced insight and expertise. 

Objectives

We aim this year to focus in on 5 topics through smaller sub groups tasked with defining the headline challenges and opportunities for each, and concluding next year with coordinated proposals across the topics for the New London Agenda to share with the governance of London.

These topics including those mentioned above are :

  • Intensification – Multi level industrial covering B2, B8 and E Class
  • Co Location – Blending industrial with other uses, horizontally and/or vertically
  • Networks – The choreography of goods and services to, from and between sites, and out to customers
  • Environment – The opportunities for industrial buildings to positively contribute to biodiversity, wellbeing and sustainability
  • Technology – Advances and possibilities

General Discussions

We talked extensively about urban land use for industrial operations and the co location questions at this first meeting, initially sharing views raised last year and then updating any developments in thinking and of actual projects across London, the UK and internationally.

We agreed visits would also form part of this year’s explorations, starting with a River Thames boat tour of bankside industrial sites to be arranged by the new Port of London Authority member James Trimmer.

It was agreed that there is no fixed approach to the variety of operations and their potential to mix or not with other uses. There also needs to be some curation both in terms of uses spread across neighbourhoods and the city, as well as how they connect to each other. Then the mix can be complimentary and enhancing, avoiding potential activity clashes.

There were renewed calls from Bridget Outtrim for B8 and B2 space not to be replaced by purely maker type space, ie parts of the E Class uses. If B8 is overly restricted then it is probably in the wrong place. Some co location schemes have originated from residential developers, some from industrial landowners so a mutually beneficial approach is needed to ensure both uses are well provided for and their activities are skilfully blended to avoid any clashes of movement, noise, vibration and public realm environments. New panel member Steve Harrington of Regal London was able to bring the residential developer’s insights to this co location debate.

Intriguingly co Location now has a wider mix of interested sharers, including life sciences, film makers, workplace, education and even public recreational spaces, all seeking a presence in areas key to their markets, so willing to look at current industrial sites that could deliver additional uses whilst retaining and enhancing the current ones.

The increasing electrification of movement and its multiple wheeled modes were raised as key to helping the integration of industrial in the city, with their new quietness and cleaner air benefits.

The idea of a network was aired again, one of the key topics, including ideas for hubs and arteries, integrating with existing systems and choreographing new ones. 

The panel found a lot to air and debate in the session on co location, and time passed quickly before we could tackle climate and wellbeing issues, so this will form part of the next session, along with reports from each subgroup. Briefly but importantly, other items introduced included the power supply challenges, the government’s A13 policy, the London Plan’s overlapping ambitions, and the customer’s demands which drive the logistics strategies. 

There was an energy again to the panel this year and a determination to explore visions and generate durable strategies on plots, in neighbourhoods and across an urban network to keep London buzzing, safe and exceptional for living, working and growing.

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Tom Alexander

Director
Aukett Swanke


Industrial & Logistics

#NLAIndustrial


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