As the dust settles following the launch of the draft new London Plan, a key area of opportunity coming into view is industrial land. The new Plan sets out a process that could allow residential development on designated industrial land provided there is no net loss of industrial floorspace.
The policies on industrial land in the new Plan are heavily influenced by a report into industrial land and supply that caused a stir at City Hall when it was published earlier in June. The report found that the rate of industrial land release was running at around 100 hectares a year, about three times the benchmark release rate of 37 hectares set by the current London Plan.
Compounding this, revised projections showed industrial employment in London declining at a slower rate than previously projected. The suggestion was that if industrial release continued at this rate, London would not have space for the industry and logistics vital to the function of its economy.
The report’s recommendations have formed the basis of the new Plans industrial policies. The new Plan sets a principle of no overall net loss of industrial floorspace in strategically designated industrial locations. Note the shift from land to floorspace.
Whereas previous benchmarks saw some industrial release in all boroughs, the new Plan now categorises just three boroughs for limited release (Havering, Newham and Barking and Dagenham), while the majority are categorised for retention, and four are categorised to provide capacity (Enfield, Brent, Ealing and the OPDC – the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation).
However, with a 53 per cent increase in housing delivery targets and the Mayor's promise not to build on the Green Belt, the taps cannot simply be turned off on one of London's major sources of land for new homes.
As such, the industrial policies in the new Plan set out a process of industrial intensification, co-location and substitution that aims to enable some release of land for homes without undermining London's vital industrial and logistical functions.
Following the processes set out in the new Plan will require innovative thinking from the development industry, including new partnerships between industrial developers and residential developers, new development typologies and new models of delivery.
The industrial policies clearly stipulate that release should come through a plan-led process. As such it is important to engage with the preparation of local plans, the London Plan and area planning frameworks.
If successful it could lead to new ways of working for industrial and logistics occupiers and transform some of London’s traditional industrial areas into vibrant mixed use neighbourhoods.
Read more: Download the Draft London Plan