London is facing unprecedented pressure on its industrial land, with the added threats of permitted development rights making the situation worse. So how does the city begin to accommodate the kinds of uses that, ultimately, help to make the capital tick?
Those were some of the key questions raised at this morning’s breakfast conference as part of the ongoing WRK/LDN season at NLA, sponsored by British Land, Cushman & Wakefield, JRA and SEGRO.
With 500 hectares of industrial land having been lost to housing in the past five years and permitted development rights putting the remaining 6950 hectares under threat, we are witnessing an unprecedented pressure on space for those integral cogs that make London function. But with advances in technology and the streamlining of processes, industry and manufacturing need no longer be banished to the peripheries of the M25.
Neil Impiazzi, Partnerships Development Manager, SEGRO says his firm is working on East Plus, a project of 85 acres in East London that he believes will be a catalyst for the wider economic regeneration of London Riverside. Or there is the firm’s work on the former Nestle factory site, where it is creating a mix of residential and industrial uses, with separate entrances, single aspect apartment blocks and careful sound analysis. All, he said, to create a comfortable environment for residents and an industrial area which is not compromised by restricted operating hours and noise issues. But seeing industrial and housing land as different is an issue we ‘sleepwalk’ into, said Impiazzi.
Michael Toyer, Assistant Director for Economic Development, LB Enfield showed the audience how London could work to accommodate manufacturers and services, stressing the importance of mixed use land for future strategy. The authority is working on schemes including with Barratt on a 20-year vision for Meridian Water which will involve the release and intensification of industrial land. It also includes meanwhile uses and pay-as-you-go working spaces for individuals and small businesses,
HawkinsBrown partner Darryl Chen looked at integration within development, saying that mix is the answer, intensification needs strong agency, there is a spectrum of activity on industrial land but that urban design in this area can be ‘transformational’ and a residential mix can work. The market doesn't produce industrial intensification alone, he added; we must acknowledge the spectrum of activity and occupiers, and placemaking has a central role in the co-existence of industrial and residential development.
During questions directed to the panel, Mark Brearley asked whether Mayor Sadiq Khan could or perhaps should do more to protect existing industrial land and actually unlock more land for industrial use. In essence, the panel agreed that the Mayor should indeed do more – but that housing will always be the priority.
Ultimately, though the talk’s panel represented the type of expert team who are forward thinking, said Chen. ‘That is the key to bringing these new approaches and typologies forward’, he said.
David Taylor, Editor, New London Quarterly