Feeding cities and logistics: intensifying land use to improve food supply chain
Stephen George + Partners joined key logistics industry stakeholders, policy makers and planning experts at the United Kingdom Warehousing Association (UKWA) ‘Feeding Cities Summit’ at The British Museum, London in November. Partner Marcus Madden-Smith was invited to speak at the event in a panel session chaired by Savills’ Will Cooper looking at how the urban logistics facility of the future will respond to the demands of the supply chain.
With the prospect of food supply chain interruption and stockpiling looming as Brexit approaches, the UKWA’s ‘Feeding Cities Summit’ set about discussing the challenges ahead and considered the potential solutions to take to policy makers. Whilst discussions surrounding logistics and last-mile delivery often focus on fulfilling customers’ demands for non-essential goods such as clothes or electronics, it was compelling to hear from retailers, food producers and the wider logistics community about essential supplies and the need to quickly and efficiently distribute perishable foodstuffs around a city.
Joining an afternoon panel session to discuss how the urban logistics centre of the future might look and how it may respond to the pressures facing the food supply chain, Stephen George + Partners’ Marcus Madden-Smith presented the practice’s own vision for the logistics facility of the future and talked about the emerging necessity to intensify sites in terms of development use.
Says Marcus: “Lack of accessible logistics space in high-population areas is already piling pressure on the food supply chain infrastructure, with logistics operators struggling to site last-mile distribution hubs for cost-effective and speedy delivery. We believe that logistics facilities should form part of a wider framework consisting of mixed-use, multi-occupancy, multi-level development considered and delivered as essential infrastructure serviced by multi-modes of transport.
“As cost and availability of land increasingly becomes an issue, we believe that integration and consolidation of uses will help maximise the value of a site and create economic benefits for landowners, developers and landlords looking to diversify their portfolios. In London, we are already seeing multi-storey high-density residential schemes with ground-floor logistics and retail.
“Considering scale, layout, circulation and accessibility will integrate logistics with other uses and ultimately deliver added value on constrained and expensive land. This level of intensification – plumbing the country’s infrastructure into these locations as opposed to having to deal with sprawled facilities – makes a great deal of sense and is far more efficient design.”
Marcus also highlighted that the ‘industry standard’ logistics building now faces more challenges than ever to adapt and that the quality of the architecture is increasingly important if urban sites are to be intensified and logistics buildings to sit harmoniously in context with other uses.
Concludes Marcus: “In London, we are already seeing multi-storey high-density residential schemes with ground-floor logistics and retail. However, Stephen George + Partners’ vision goes way beyond that with an intensification of land use that will see the logistics park of the future become a destination – this is not just wishful thinking, this is happening right now. We are already working with a number of clients looking to maximise the value of their sites by integrating different uses and have already had major success in delivering logistics adjacent to residential using design solutions that enabled us to deliver our clients’, stakeholders’ and the market’s aspirations.”
Stephen George + Partners would like to thank Peter Ward, CEO of UKWA and Will Cooper, Director, Building & Project Consultancy at Savills for the opportunity to participate in this important debate.