Thursday, March 19, 2020

Housing Taking Precedence Over Logistics Development Spawns an Objection to Mayor and Ministers

Warehousing Boss Points Out the Flaws in the New London Plan
Shipping News Feature

UK – There is deep concern amongst the logistics community at the lack of comprehension by politicians as to how the supply chain actually works. The government's diktat to local authorities that more housing be developed has led to a situation whereby industrial land, and even green belt, is being requisitioned to accommodate private housing. Now the Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA), Peter Ward, has written to the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government with the Associations objections to the reformed London Plan.

The letter, sent today to Minister Robert Jenrick MP and with copies to Mayor of London Sadiq Khan and Grant Shapps MP, Secretary of State for Transport, is published in full below:

“I am writing to you following your letter to the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, regarding his London Plan. I urge you to reconsider your direction to remove the ‘no net loss’ requirement on existing industrial land from the plan.

”The UK Warehousing Association (UKWA) and its members fully understand and endorse the need for new housing in London and its surrounding areas, but this cannot be at the expense of land for logistics. The logistics sector is vital in ensuring not only that London remains economically competitive but also to make sure that its residents and businesses continue to have access to the range of goods and services that they need on a daily basis. Ensuring the sector can function efficiently and effectively is a key necessity to the efficient working of the capital’s economy and the well-being of its residents.

”According to the GLA’s own evidence base, land for industry and logistics is being lost at three times the anticipated level of release in the previous Mayor’s London Plan - a rate which is harmful and unsustainable. An adequate supply of appropriate land for the logistics and warehousing sectors must be maintained in the appropriate locations and at an affordable cost to prevent unsustainable losses of capacity.

”Where any losses do occur these should be rebalanced through allocating new land in the right locations and at the right price to ensure London retains the warehousing and logistics capacity it needs to sustain London’s residents and economic growth, that is why ‘no net loss’ is vital for London and the UK economy.

”Indeed, as per our response to the draft plan, UKWA believes that ‘no net loss’ policy does not go far enough, and it should have been stronger to rebalance the supply lost over the previous years as referred to above. Also we would like to point out that the ‘no net loss’ policy refers to ‘floorspace’ not land, throughout the plan this is justified by a reliance on intensification, which we know from experience is very hard to achieve and make work for all concerned.

”For logistics and warehousing to work efficiently and productively, open land and adequate vehicle storage areas are vital, especially bearing in mind the current need to consider the UK's commitments to reduce carbon emissions under the Paris agreement in all actions undertaken.

”The need for logistics and warehousing land is very distinct from other industrial land, and vitally important to have sufficient economical logistics land in the right place to ensure optimal productivity and efficiency to sustain London and its current and future residents. This is essential to ensure we improve air quality, reduce carbon emissions, improve road safety and ease congestion which will increase greatly if vehicles have to travel into the capital from further outside London.

”The UKWA urges you to reconsider your direction and I would welcome the opportunity to talk with you on this further.”

Like many other stakeholders the members of the UKWA have expressed ongoing concerns at this shrinkage of available land. We pointed recently when covering the organisation’s annual conference to the exorbitant prices now being paid for comparatively small, but vitally located, plots suitable for warehousing premises, particularly in the light of the burgeoning ecommerce sector.

Those responsible for government have too long ignored the importance of logistics, not recognising it as the one ‘invisible’ industry that maintains our entire society. This situation may well change as the latest virus outbreak eats away our normal social fabric and exposes the vital part that a well maintained and efficient supply chain plays in every citizen’s daily life.