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Putting logistics in the mix:

Stephen George + Partners at the 2017 Estates Gazette Industrial & Logistics Summit
13th December 2017

Stephen George + Partners’ Marcus Madden-Smith was recently invited to take part in the Estates Gazette Industrial & Logistics Summit at Howick Place in London. Speaking to a high-level audience of industrial developers, investors, agents and occupiers, Marcus talked about the need for innovative solutions for urban logistics and challenging some of the generic industry standards.

Participating in a panel session entitled ‘Alternative Warehouse Spaces: What Are The Options?’ Marcus discussed how a consolidation of uses could help maximise the value of a site and create economic benefits for landowners, developers and landlords looking to diversify their portfolios.

“If you take a site in London where the land values are high and you apply the generic industry standards to that site it just wouldn’t stack up. Because of that, we are always under pressure to realise greater floor space and greater density on sites to make them more viable,” explained Marcus.

“We are looking at a variety of ways to maximise value: multi-storey logistics, where you have multi-floor logistics space and ground-floor servicing; multi-storey-multi-occupier logistics floor space where you have multi-floor logistics and service space. The third example, and more interesting to me, is multi-use logistics space where you have retail, a click-and-collect trade counter with a logistics facility behind that and then perhaps residential uses above that facility. That’s exciting because we’re constantly under pressure to provide more residential development on sites, but what’s missing from the housing debate is the availability of logistics space to service that expansion – so there is a happy medium where the two facilities can come together.”

Members of the panel, which included Nicholas King, Managing Director of Formal Investments and Jonathan Wallis, Development Director, db symmetry, were keen to understand how different funding parties could work together for each use element.

“A lot of funders are very sector specific so mixing it up creates an element of risk,” admitted Marcus. “However, we’ve seen these kinds of schemes work, for instance the Travis Perkins scheme at St Pancras Way which has been a very successful mixed-use model. Hopefully with further similar schemes coming on stream it will work to create a more desirable market where funders look on it with more confidence.”

Chairing the event, Estates Gazette Editor Damian Wild, wondered whether it was not just funders that needed to be convinced about multi-use urban logistics, but the general public too.

“When you’re looking at a multi-use scenario you’re introducing a logistics scheme to members of the public whose preconceived notion is that it will be a dirty, noisy environment. Yet modern, clean and efficient logistics operations couldn’t be more different,” explained Marcus. “Nonetheless, you have to overcome those scenarios by reassuring the public that those social impacts will be dealt with and that by improving the local area, providing retail or click and collect, you’re providing a number of facilities for the local community as well as servicing a local need – then you can start to win the argument.”

Estates Gazette Industrial & Logistics Summit took place on 21 November 2017.