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07/03/2019

Warehouse space must increase to support government housing target

Words: Laura Edgar
Last mile logistics / Shutterstock_1026104380

Warehouse space across England must increase to support growing communities if the government is to realise its target to deliver 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s.

What Warehousing Where says there is 69 square feet of warehouse floor space for each home in England. To maintain this ratio and to match the government’s 300,000-homes-a-year target, 20.6 million square feet – 280 football pitches – of additional warehouse space is required each year.

Considering the continuing growth of e-commerce and demand for last-mile delivery, the ratio of 69 square feet will need to increase, says the report.

However, only two years in the past six saw total warehouse space increase by more than 20 million square feet.

Moving goods to and from businesses and people is “integral” to the economy, as warehouse and logistics underpin the efficient operation of most business sectors, said the British Property Federation (BPF), which commissioned the report from planning consultancy Turley.

To ensure that consumer demand is met, it is “essential” to have the right volume of warehouse space in the right locations, with good transport infrastructure.
The West Midlands has 111 square feet of warehouse floor space per home, compared with London, the region with the least, at 40 square feet. BPF says this demonstrates the Midlands’ role as a ‘key’ national distribution hub and the impact of constrained land supply in the capital.

Despite the housing shortage, there hasn't been any formal recognition of the quantum and location of warehousing space required to support the government’s target to deliver 300,000 homes a year.

The report recommends that the government, as part of its industrial strategy, should set a requirement for all local industrial strategies to specifically consider the role of their geographic area in the national logistics network. It should also identify steps to support its efficient and sustainable operation.

The logistics sector, including developers, operators and industry representatives, must engage at all levels of plan-making (local plans, local industrial strategies). It should engage in government growth areas to demonstrate its requirement and the role it will play in delivering sustainable places.

Melanie Leech, chief executive at the BPF, said few people realise the “vital” part warehouses and logistics play in everyday living. 

“Warehousing does more than just ensure that online deliveries arrive on time, it also creates skilled jobs and delivers significant economic growth. The government is under a lot of pressure to deliver new housing – and while this is important, a balanced approach to planning for sustainable communities must be taken.

“Policymakers should take this report seriously. Although different regions will clearly have different requirements and capacities for growth, it gives us a clear and simple picture of the volume of warehousing required to service our society at large, and we urgently need this in order to make sure that decision-makers and planners can respond and create sustainable communities that bring benefits to both existing residents and newcomers.”

Image credit | Shutterstock

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