“Co-location” is one of the new buzz word being used by our Planners, particularly in London, as we all look to balance the Mayor of London’s new draft policy on intensification of Strategic Industrial Locations, Locally Significant Industrial Sites and other industrial land currently being used for Class B1c, B2 and B8 purposes (industrial and storage), whilst meeting the need to deliver more homes in London. Co-location of industrial and residential floorspace is therefore being heralded as one of the potential new sources of housing supply.
Co-location can be delivered horizontally (by splitting a site into industrial and residential areas) or vertically (by stacking the residential use on top of the industrial use), with the vertical configuration having the advantage of ensuring no net loss of industrial floorspace as well as efficient use of land.
When proposing either a horizontal or vertical co-location scheme, understanding and responding to the ‘operational requirements’ of all occupants; to secure the amenities of the new homes as well as the operational needs of their neighbours. The key objective being here, that the introduction of residential use onto an industrial site does not in anyway, fetter the long-term industrial use of that site and neighbouring industrial sites. A requirement that is embedded in the Mayor of London’s ‘Agent of Change’ principle.
The draft New London Plan explains that the Agent of Change principle “…places the responsibility for mitigating impacts from existing noise and other nuisance-generating activities or uses on the proposed new noise-sensitive development”. In other words, the new residential floorspace proposed above, should be designed to mitigate against any potential noise, vibration and air quality impacts and servicing activities associated with the existing or replacement industrial use (for example, soundproofing). Thereby ensuring that existing industrial land uses are not unduly affected or restricted by the introduction of new sensitive uses, and therefore detrimentally impacted in their continued operation for industrial purposes.
The Agent of Change principle also works to aid the delivery of a high-quality living environment for the new residents, by requiring the elimination of any conflict between uses, for example enabling new residents to walk safely to local facilities and transport nodes without being put in harm’s way by vehicles regularly servicing the industrial units.
Although the Mayor’s co-location policy is in its infancy, there are very few co-location developments with planning permission at this stage, but there is a hand full of important planning applications waiting to be determined.
On the basis that brownfield land availability in London is continuing to reduce, particularly in strategic locations that are attractive to commercial operators and home builders, the co-location concept has the potential to become one of the solutions to housing delivery in London whilst maintaining industrial floorspace, and should continue to be actively promoted in principle at national, regional and local planning policy levels. However, there does not appear to be a ‘one-size fits all’ solution which can be rolled out - each site will have different constraints and circumstances that will influence the eventual scheme design.
But should our latest co-location schemes be approved by local planning authorities and the Mayor of London and prove to be successful in London, this could be the beginning of more widespread application or at the very least testing of the co-location concept in other metropolitan areas across the UK.
For more on co-location, read Planning Associate Tudor Jones' blog, focusing on the Bristol market.
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