We’ve convened an independent, expert-led commission to provide fresh thinking on the future of London’s industrial land.
The Commission’s final report will be published this month. Register to attend the launch event here.
About the Commission
The Industrial Land Commission is chaired by Liz Peace CBE, Chair of Trustees at Centre for London and Chairman of the Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation, and is made up of senior experts including local authorities, landowners and occupiers.
The full list of commissioners includes:
- Mark Brearley, Director, Kaymet London Limited
- Andrea Charlson, Senior Advisor, ReLondon
- Jessica Ferm, Associate Professor, Bartlett School of Planning, University College London
- Dr Stefania Fiorentino, Lecturer, Department of Land Economy, University of Cambridge and Associate Member of the Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, University of Cambridge
- David Francis, Director, West London Alliance
- Caroline Harper, Chief Planning Director, Be First
- Neil Impiazzi, Partnerships Development Manager, SEGRO
- Paul Lewin, Planning Policy and Projects Manager, London Borough of Brent
- Holly Lewis, Partner, We Made That
- Gerald Mason, Senior Vice President, Tate & Lyle Sugars
- Rob McNicol, Acting London Plan Team Manager, Greater London Authority
- Martyn Saunders, Director, Planning, Development and Regeneration, Avison Young
- Liz Peace, Chair of Trustees, Centre for London
The work of the commissioners has been supported by a secretariat at Centre for London. In September 2021, the Commission published a paper which sets out their initial conclusions.
London’s economy and operations depend in large part on the effective use of its industrial sites. Though the term ‘industrial’ is associated with manufacturing, construction and ‘dirtier’ activities such as waste, its functions are varied. Industrial land use can range from tech studios and advanced printing, to film studios and breweries. Industrial sites also play an important role in logistics, with freight consolidation sites enabling effective last-mile distribution of the goods on which the city depends. However, as London’s economy and population have grown, the demands on space have intensified, causing the need for industrial land to compete with housing, retail, mixed development, and other uses.
Four decades ago, London’s industrial land was in oversupply, however, in recent years the rate at which it has been converted has been far quicker than expected. Between 2010 and 2015, the release of industrial land was almost three times more than recommended. However, research for the Greater London Authority shows that there will be demand for industrial land up to 2041, as the logistics and service sectors continue to grow. The new London Plan addresses the need to provide sufficient industrial, logistics, and related capacity through its policies. However, despite a strong case for protecting remaining industrial land, many argue that there needs to be a rethink. Several outer London boroughs, in particular, argue that too much of their land is given over to low-value, low-employment, and often polluting activity that adds little to their local economies.
Various solutions have been proposed as the debate deepens and industrial land continues to diminish. The new London Plan proposes the intensification and consolidation of industrial activity as a way of delivering additional capacity and increasing housing supply. However, given the diversity of industrial activity, the ability for intensification and co-mixing to work across all industrial land is limited.
The pandemic has accelerated reflection on London’s future as well as more immediate actions, and we believe it is important that the role of industrial land is effectively addressed as part of this. The Commission aimed to explore the diverse and changing contemporary and potential future uses of industrial land and develop cross-sector recommendations on ways forward.
This Commission explored questions including:
- What role does industrial land play in London’s economy – from jobs to logistics, to sustainable city servicing. How has this changed and how is it likely to change in the future? How should we assess the trade-offs with other uses?
- What are the opportunities to intensify industrial land or combine it with other uses? What new models of intensification and multi-use are or could be, developed?
- How should industrial land planning policy be strengthened and reformed? What can local, regional and national government do, beyond planning policy, to support optimal use of industrial land?