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by GK Strategy 5th July, 2018
3 min read

Mix it until you fix it

In June, GK held the ‘Introduction to mixed-use developments on industrial land’ event with our long-standing client Travis Perkins. Our keynote speaker, Deputy Mayor of London for Planning, Jules Pipe told the audience the Mayor expected to see no overall loss of employment use land in favour of residential developments. As stated in the Draft London Plan, he called for the intensification of industrial land – protecting the essential services this land provides while building homes where appropriate.

The Deputy Mayor challenged the audience and asked; why it is that industrial land cannot be protected for employment use purposes and help tackle the housing crisis? That is music to the ears of companies like TP who face the challenge of retaining sites as landowners seek to maximise returns on their assets – turning sites into purely residential zones. Industrial land in the capital has declined by 34% since 2001 according to SEGRO, a statistic that should worry residents, developers, employees and planning policymakers across the capital.

From clients, GK frequently hears how employers in London struggle to recruit due to the lack of affordable housing in local communities where people work. We also hear how residents in boroughs across the capital object when their local builders’ merchant, petrol station or any number of amenities are closed for a purely residential development. There are clearly tensions here –  it’s no secret that Londoners need more homes – but London needs the services that underpin local economies. Furthermore, the numerous major regeneration projects across the city need servicing – they guzzle concrete, bricks, steel, timber and the list goes on.

If suppliers do not have a local base to distribute these essential materials from, congestion increases as goods are brought in from outside the M25 and construction costs increase. Here at GK, we have conducted research to show the consequences of builders’ merchants being pushed out of the capital. This is just one example and there are numerous others, but it has been an incredibly useful exercise in demonstrating to London boroughs and City Hall the worrying trend of London losing its essential services.

The Deputy Mayor and the London Plan team at City Hall has challenged conventional thinking and sought to promote mixed use on industrial land. We have worked hard to contribute to this policy change and are confident this model will help London tackle the housing crisis. This is to be welcomed and GK will continue to work with our clients to ensure the policies included in the Draft London Plan are implemented on the ground.

For more information on submitting evidence to the Draft London Plan or engagement with City Hall and London boroughs, please contact matt@gkstrategy.com

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