The provision of new small-scale manufacturing space in Central London is being talked about more and more as a potential 'anchor' use for first phase development. This reflects high levels of demand in the sector, probably as part of a wider move in the UK towards supporting home-grown production, combined with steep rental and rates growth in areas such as Shoreditch, Hackney and Old Street where affordable manufacturing space could previously be found. It is also a function of developers' desire to breathe life into regeneration schemes.
Large-scale sites usually require complete transformation to reposition previously peripheral or ‘unloved’ areas. Developers need to create the conditions in which, in value terms, they can catch up with or outperform the local market. This does not happen overnight, but incorporating manufacturing and creative space into an early phase of development can be a vital catalyst in the process – even though space will inevitably be let at a (sometimes substantial) discount to the target estimated rental value (ERV) for the scheme.
There is a ‘trendy’ perception around design and manufacturing, and the people that work in the sector, which contributes positively to a scheme’s brand and identity. The style of working tends to be interactive and collaborative, which also helps to portray an image of activity and life throughout the day, particularly where there is an educational angle. This helps to support the first café/retail spaces, and is also beneficial when marketing the wider scheme to larger occupier requirements and to prospective residents who buy into the hustle and bustle of urban living.
There are many examples of schemes that successfully incorporate multiple uses (incorporating small-scale manufacturing), dubbed ‘co-location’. As part of the University of the Arts, Central Saint Martins at King’s Cross is the much-vaunted example of how education/creative space can contribute vital life and animation to the early stages of large-scale mixed use development.
Another example is the Central Research Laboratory at The Old Vinyl Factory in Hayes, created by developers U+I, in partnership with Brunel University London and the Higher Education Funding Council for England. This is a facility that mentors hardware entrepreneurs in a designated co-working facility. Similarly Workspace and Peabody’s Merchants Walk in Bow demonstrates the way in which residential and workspace uses can combine successfully.
Read more: What London workers want most