London Plan may need to provide for 'many hundreds of hectares' of extra industrial land

The draft London Plan may need to allocate "many hundreds of hectares" of additional land for industrial, storage and distribution uses, including potentially on green belt land, the document's examining inspectors have concluded.

Industrial land: inspectors suggest more sites may be required across London
Industrial land: inspectors suggest more sites may be required across London

In their post-examination report on the capital’s overarching strategic planning document, inspectors Roisin Barrett, William Fieldhouse and David Smith conclude that storage and distribution uses (B8) "are expected to require more land amounting to between 280 and 400 hectares".

The emerging plan proposes that there should be "no overall net loss of industrial and warehousing floorspace in London (B1c, B2 and B8) in designated industrial locations". 

But the report says there have been "significant changes in storage and distribution operations in recent years, including related to online shopping, and these trends are expected to continue".

"This, and significant population growth, could mean that more land, or sites in new locations, will be needed for B8 uses than is assumed in the plan."

The report also says that latest data shows that more existing industrial sites are being earmarked for redeveloped into non-industrial uses than previously supposed, suggesting that "more industrial land may actually be lost than assumed in the plan based on the earlier industrial land studies".

The inspectors said this "indicates that there is likely to be a need, in quantitative terms, for more industrial land to meet future demand over the plan period to 2041 than assumed in the plan".

"Whilst we cannot precisely quantify the requirement, it could be many hundreds of hectares based on the 2017 SHLAA and the uncertainties associated with the vacant industrial land in east London."

The inspectors recommend that the plan be modified to include reference to "a future strategic, London-wide green belt review".

The report says this review "should ensure that medium to longer term industrial needs can be met in sustainable locations".

It also says that policy in the draft plan should "refer to boroughs considering whether the green belt in their area needs to be reviewed to provide additional industrial capacity".

The document goes on to say that policy in the draft plan "needs to be strengthened further to help protect non-designated industrial sites which currently make up over a third of all industrial land".

It adds that this is "necessary to ensure the plan is effective in protecting all viable industrial sites, including those occupied by small businesses, in the future".

The inspectors further recommend that, before finalising the plan, the mayor of London "should give further consideration" to a table in the draft plan which outlines which boroughs should retain or allow limited release of existing industrial floorspace capacity "to provide a more positive strategic framework for the provision of industrial capacity."

A Planning briefing looking at what the draft London Plan proposes for industrial land can be read here. 

The Planning for Housing conference, organised by Planning, takes place in central London on November 12. Speakers include Juliemma McLoughlin, Greater London Authority chief planner, development, enterprise and environment. For more details, click here.

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