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Chapter 5: Recommendations

Worth the Weight: Making London’s deliveries greener and smarter

Chapter 5: Recommendations

To prioritise deliveries:

The Mayor of London should press ahead with plans to introduce road user charging, in order to reduce congestion on London’s roads and save time and money for vehicle drivers.

The Mayor of London has set an ambition for all cars and vans in London to
be electric by 2030, yet diesel van sales are at the highest level on record. On
top of this, the National Infrastructure Commission has also recommended
that the government ban diesel HGVs by 2040.77

While the extension of the ULEZ is very welcome, it doesn’t necessarily encourage the switch to electric vehicles, since many diesel and petrol vehicles are already compliant with the scheme standards so don’t have to pay the fine. It also doesn’t encourage organisations to consolidate their deliveries.

Centre for London has been making the case for London government to introduce a road user charging scheme, and details of our proposal can be read here. Charges would be based on vehicle class and emissions, distance travelled, the availability of replacement electric vehicles, where a journey takes place and whether it is deemed essential. Such a scheme would allow priority to be given to delivery and servicing vehicles: for example, charging rates for HGVs could be initially lower to reflect their essential nature, and increase as electric vehicles become available.

London Councils should allow quiet deliveries to take place during evenings and the night-time.

Not all goods vehicles are as noisy as they were when the London Lorry Control Scheme (LLCS) was first introduced, nor are the methods and equipment used for unloading. Quiet goods vehicles should be allowed to operate at night so that drivers can avoid the more congested times on the capital’s roads, thus reducing both journey times and air pollution. London Councils should set out standards and guidance to ensure that only quiet deliveries can operate in this way.

There is already a precedent for allowing lorries to operate during the night. During the London Olympic games in 2012, the night-time restriction on lorries was temporary suspended to allow for the delivery of goods and the collection of waste. Working with businesses and operators, London Councils should review the LLCS and planning permissions to pilot a scheme that tests different windows of operation for night-time deliveries.

Case study: Stockholm’s night-time delivery pilot to reduce journey times and pollution

The city of Stockholm bans late-night deliveries between 10pm and 6am to reduce noise pollution. However, as part of a special pilot, this was lifted for six McDonald’s restaurants in the city, which started receiving deliveries at night. Because the vehicles were hybrids,78 they could drive quietly on electric power, preventing disturbances to residents.79

Conducting deliveries at night when there is less congestion resulted in 25-30 per cent quicker journey times for firms,80 as well as a 28 per cent reduction in particulate matter and an 80 per cent reduction in NOx emissions. 81 This is likely to be due to the reduced time spent in traffic, as the stop-start driving associated with high-traffic areas produces more air pollution.82

Deliveries in the pilot also had more reliable arrival times, with deliveries on average falling within a 15 per cent variation of their estimated time of arrival when travelling at night (compared with an average 22 per cent variation during normal hours of operation). Drivers also reported being less stressed about late deliveries.

The scheme partially continued after the pilot, with some firms involved switching portions of their fleet to hybrid vehicles and the City of Stockholm continuing to allow night-time operations. However, the scheme has not yet seen a widespread rollout, primarily because of the high initial cost of purchasing the hybrid trucks. 83

London boroughs and Transport for London should embrace dynamic kerb management, which would give delivery vehicles safer and more reliable access while minimising impacts on other road users.

Many businesses rely on on-street loading bays to receive or make deliveries, but have to compete with a wide range of other demands on kerb space – from vehicle traffic to car parking and even alfresco dining. In many cases delivery vehicles resort to illegal loading, facing fines as well as impacting on other road users. Introducing dynamic and digitalised kerbside management systems would enable delivery vehicles to book space on the kerb. It would also enable local authorities to prioritise loading over other uses of the kerb (such as car parking), while gathering data on where loading bays are needed and for how long.

Advance booking would offer delivery vehicles the reliability they need to operate more efficiently. It would also reduce circling for space and the associated air pollution. Flexible loading bays would allow vehicles to stop for loading where they currently cannot (for example due to other parked vehicles). They would enable local authorities to ensure that loading happens safely by regulating informal unloading that is often disruptive to other road users. Flexible loading bays also allow for multiple uses of the kerb in a single day: a space can function as a loading bay in the morning yet double up as seating space for pubs or restaurants later in the day. Finally, digital management of the kerb allows local authorities to prioritise zero-emissions vehicles over others.

Transport for London should introduce parking charges on red routes, and prioritise the need for loading bays over car parking.

On strategic road corridors such as red routes, where loading is more likely to lead to delays and congestion, Transport for London should pilot the introduction of parking charges and reservable loading bays. These would give drivers a guarantee of finding a space to load or unload without impacting on traffic flows. Advance booking of on-street loading space would also allow Transport for London to prioritise zero-emissions vehicles.

If these recommendations prove challenging within existing regulatory powers, national government should devolve further responsibilities to London’s government to allow them to proceed.

To deliver to and from the right places:

The Mayor of London should work with boroughs and parcel delivery companies to ensure that 90 per cent of Londoners have a universal parcel pick-up and drop-off point within 250 metres of their home by 2025.

Most carriers offer a parcel pick-up and drop-off option, but only 17 per
cent of parcels are delivered this way in London – despite pick-up options
generally being cheaper than home deliveries.84 For most Londoners, parcel
pick-up isn’t a convenient choice, since few have a pick-up/drop-off point
(PUDO) within a short walking distance (see case study below). Developing
a network of PUDOs that Londoners can easily use would encourage them to
take up this option.

Working with London boroughs, parcel delivery companies, and organisations such as Delivering London, the Mayor of London should encourage the growth of an open PUDO network that all carriers can use. These could also include in-store pick-up points or lockers. Parcel delivery companies will need to ensure compatibility between their own software and the universal locker system, so pilots will be needed to check that the integration is working.

Boosting the use of PUDOs doesn’t only reduce traffic on the roads. It would also save on last-mile delivery costs and reduce the number of missed deliveries, thereby cutting unnecessary journeys. It would also hugely simplify parcel deliveries. Currently, deliveries are made to 3.5 million addresses across London, but introducing 10,000 PUDOs would put around 90 per cent of London’s population within reach of one. In addition, parcel pick-up locations can increase footfall in local shops and community venues.

While rolling out universal PUDOs is in the interests of both Londoners and delivery companies, national government should ensure that the Mayor of London has the powers they need should progress be too slow:

  • National government should give the Mayor of London powers to introduce an online sales tax for at-home deliveries, which could be used to encourage delivery companies to set up more pick-up/drop-off locations and encourage consumers to use them.
  • The Mayor of London and local authorities should campaign to highlight the impact of non-sustainable delivery methods, while also raising awareness and take-up of sustainable delivery options.

Campaigns by the Mayor of London and local authorities should raise awareness of sustainable delivery options and aim to increase take-up of outof-home parcel delivery solutions. Campaigns could also be directed towards businesses to promote sustainable and affordable options for receiving and making deliveries. Where Business Improvement Districts exist, local authorities should work with them to raise awareness and facilitate take-up of these options.

Local authorities should work with communities to understand how microhubs could serve their needs and deliver positive impact, while also including communities in consultation over the right locations.

Although they reduce delivery vehicle mileage at the city scale, new consolidation centres near homes tend to face opposition from residents due to their local impact on traffic and air pollution. Local authorities should engage communities near potential consolidation sites early in the planning process to understand their concerns. Additionally, they can work with planning applicants to minimise local impacts, for example by using zero-emissions vehicles. Local authorities should also ensure that planning applications and decisions take into account the geography of the area, so that hubs aren’t placed close to particularly vulnerable groups such as schools and care homes.

The Mayor of London and London boroughs should ensure that space is available for logistics hubs near homes, which would allow delivery vehicles to reduce their mileage.

Just-in-time supply chains and quick deliveries are essential to many businesses, but these require retailers and carriers to be able to use warehouses near their customers. Where operators lack facilities to consolidate their deliveries, vans need to deliver over longer distances. A shortage of industrial land in London, particularly in the inner city, means that very few suitable spaces are available.

Local authorities, guided by the London Plan, should continue to protect logistics land across London. They should also work with delivery companies to find out where land for logistics hubs is most needed, so that they can adequately support applications for new premises near residential areas. In neighbourhoods where consolidation premises are needed but no applications are coming forward, local authorities should consider using their compulsory purchase powers to facilitate the creation of logistics hubs. Centre for London’s upcoming Industrial Land Commission report will offer detail on how local authorities can ensure that the city has sufficient industrial land to reach net zero targets.

Case study: Making parcel pick-up quick and easy

Nearly all parcel delivery companies offer “out of home” parcel pick-up and drop-off options (PUDOs) – yet these are far less popular in the UK than in other European countries, according to research conducted by Delivering London.

In theory, London’s density should mean that most people can walk a short distance to pick up or drop off their parcels, but this is not the case in practice. Different parcel delivery companies use different PUDO networks, so consumers have to find out which pick-up point works for their specific delivery. This also limits choice, as the carrier for the parcel in question may not have a partnership with the nearest pick-up point. According to modelling conducted by Delivering London in one outer London borough, none of the PUDO networks had more than eight per cent of the borough’s population within 250 metres of their PUDO points, and only 21 per cent of residents had a PUDO point within 250 metres of their home.

Delivering London is working with London government and parcel delivery companies to create a single open network of PUDO points that all carriers can use by 2025. Delivering London estimates that increasing the share of deliveries fulfilled using PUDOs from 17 per cent currently to 50 per cent would generate carbon savings equivalent to electrifying 20 per cent of London’s delivery fleet.

To deliver in the right way:

To accelerate the shift to electric vehicles, national government should fund upgrades to power distribution networks, as well as charging facilities in private and commercial premises such as depots.

At the end of 2020 there were 500 rapid charging points in London, but forecasts suggest at least 4,000 will be needed by 2025.85 Plans are in place to deliver the charging points needed, but these will need to be accelerated to meet demand. Charging points are also needed at depots and consolidation centres, but the cost of installing them (and the electric power distribution networks required) is currently prohibitive. It’s therefore crucial that national and London government boost delivery with additional funding.

To reduce van and lorry journeys on key London roads, national government and the Port of London Authority should invest in the redevelopment of London’s piers, wharves and rail-road interchanges.

London has safeguarded wharves and piers in strategic locations to boost use of the river Thames for deliveries. But without investment in contemporary logistics spaces and road interchanges, most of these sites remain underused. National government should offer financial backing for projects that would reduce carbon emissions from deliveries, including projects that increase the use of the wharves, piers and railways.

Space near railway stations is more constrained, but Transport for London and Network Rail should identify the rail-road interchange sites with the most potential to reduce carbon emissions if redeveloped, and put forward the business case for government investment.

While trains and ships can carry bigger loads than lorry journeys, they run on diesel, which impacts on local air pollution. Train and boat fleets in London should electrify. To incentivise this, public investment in river and rail freight infrastructure should be assorted with targets for the electrification of boat and train fleets.

To consolidate deliveries:

National government should give local authorities the power to require the consolidation of all commercial deliveries into designated areas, such as certain high streets. This would reduce congestion and pollution, and would improve high streets for residents and visitors.

Consolidation of deliveries can achieve huge reductions in delivery vehicle
traffic. For example, the Crown Estate’s delivery consolidation scheme for
Regent Street retailers has enabled an 80 per cent reduction in the lorry movements they generate.86 Many London high streets would benefit from similar group consolidation schemes.

If national government is unwilling:

Business Improvement Districts should negotiate framework procurement contracts so that their members can use common suppliers at cheaper prices.

Commercial landlords should require tenants to use the same suppliers for common services such as waste collection.

Businesses in an area often use a variety of providers for common services such as waste collection, which leads to unnecessary vehicle journeys, pollution and carbon emissions. To mitigate this, BIDs should negotiate framework procurement contracts so that they can offer businesses a shortlist of cheaper suppliers to pick from.

It’s also common for commercial leases to include specific requirements on deliveries, such as the times at which they can take place. To avoid doubling up on vehicle movements, commercial landlords should require their tenants to use shared suppliers.

Local authorities should require all large developments in opportunity areas to use a construction consolidation centre, and make this a requirement of planning permission.

It is common for local authorities to require the consolidation of construction materials and waste. The Olympic site construction consolidation site was an example of this working at scale. This practice should be the norm for all large new development projects in opportunity areas, where it is likely that other developments will be taking place at the same time.

Local authorities should make delivery consolidation a requirement in planning applications for all new major developments.

Case study: Compulsory off-site consolidation

Local authorities can require off-site consolidation of deliveries once a building is in use. The City of London Corporation has introduced this requirement for all new major commercial developments in the Square Mile through Section 106 agreements. At the time of writing, it has required off-site consolidation of deliveries in over 20 developments, which will lead to huge reductions in vehicle journeys in the City and across London.

For example, off-site consolidation for 22 Bishopsgate – London’s largest office building to date – is estimated to reduce emissions from deliveries by 96 per cent.87 The City of London Corporation hopes to expand this requirement to smaller developments as delivery consolidation services become more widely available. Planning applicants are required to submit evidence that they have subscribed to an off-site consolidation service, and produce annual reports on the number of deliveries to the building.