Urban logistics and the planning system


Jonathan Walker, Head of Cities and Infrastructure Policy at Logistics UK comments on the importance of considering freight and logistics needs in the planning system

The urban population is expanding with 2020 government statistics estimating that 82.9 per cent of the UK's population live in an urban area. With increasing population, comes an increased need for logistics land to service residence. Despite this, the need for logistics land is often overlooked; research from Savills – published in June 2022 – indicates that London has lost 5.7 million sq ft of warehouse space to other uses since 2011.
In addition to overall practicality and efficiency, safeguarding land for logistics within urban areas is essential to reaching decarbonisation goals. With vehicle milage range typically shorter on electric vehicles compared to conventionally fuelled vehicles, warehousing close to cities is essential, as are micro-consolidation centres.
Logistics UK has long called for reform of the planning system and in July 2023, welcomed the call for evidence on freight, logistics and the planning system, highlighting that it must act as a catalyst for long-term planning reforms that recognise the importance of our industry.  In our response, we highlighted the significance of the logistics industry – which contributes £163 billion to the UK economy each year – and called for its importance to be recognised and reflected in planning reforms, not just at a national level, but also at a local level to support communities.
Within our response, we also noted the need for local authorities to engage with industry on local plans from the outset, and throughout their development, to ensure the swift and sustainable delivery of crucial warehousing and logistics projects that help to support residents needs and net zero goals. We now look forward to receiving the outcome of the call for evidence, and will continue to engage with members, local authorities and national government to ensure the sector's needs are recognised.