Draft London Plan-Industrial Sites

04th December 2017
By Andrew Jackson

On first reading of the new Draft London Plan the policies pertaining to industrial land focus on ‘no net loss’ and intensification of industrial uses.  The policy approach is in response to declining vacancy across London’s industrial floorspace; and the higher levels of industrial release to other uses that has occurred recently; compared to what was predicted under the previous London Plan.  

The ‘plan, monitor, manage’ approach from the previous London Plan remains in place but is simplified with fewer categories being ‘Provide capacity’; ‘Retain capacity’; and ‘Limited release’. Each London Borough is assigned a category.  It’s the ‘Provide capacity’ category that will likely attract the most debate.  Boroughs within this category are  given the task of  intensifying floorspace capacity in either existing and/or new locations accessible to transport infrastructure.  The Plan seeks to achieve intensification through increased plot ratios via redevelopment at 65%; well above the current 40% standard industrial plot ratio; and the vertical stacking of industrial premises.  

While these ambitions may be sound in principle many new industrial developments fail to achieve this higher plot ratio;  and vertical stacking of industrial premises is not yet a widely adopted industrial typology being delivered by the market.  Also many industrial sites are small in nature and cannot be redeveloped in isolation to achieve such a high plot ratio.  Therefore, in reality adjoining industrial sites may need to be assembled together so that access points; parking and servicing can be shared in order to achieve higher site coverage and accommodate ramps to reach vertically stacked floors.  Site assembly is not an easy task.  

However probably the new London Plan’s most topical stance regarding industrial land is contained within the new SIL policy. It states development proposals for uses in SILs other than B1c; B2; B8 or similar should be refused except in areas released through a strategically co-ordinated process of SIL consolidation.  Residential is specifically mentioned as one of the uses which should be refused permission.  The only available avenue to incorporate residential on SIL land appears to have it de-designated through a Local Plan; similar to what the Mayor is achieving in Old Oak through the Local Plan there. 

Interestingly Strategic Industrial Locations, Locally Significant Industrial Sites and other industrial sites deemed appropriate to release for other uses are to achieve 50% affordable housing on any residential element.  This is likely to be based on the typically lower existing use value of poorer quality industrial sites deemed surplus to requirements.  Many respondents are likely to review the viability evidence that sits behind this policy when it becomes available from the 1st December.

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