ISSUE 04 | LONDON FOCUS
The Future’s Bright, The Future’s Industrial
Since 2001, over 1,000 hectares of the capital’s industrial land has been lost to non-industrial uses, according to the Greater London Authority’s London Industrial Land Supply & Economy study.
As the city struggles to cope with population growth, factories, distribution units and workshops have been replaced by myriad housing developments as well as office blocks and retail.
But the tide is turning. The policy makers overseeing London’s growth now realise that the city needs industry because of the huge demand from consumers and businesses for goods and consumables. Ensuring that these are manufactured or made in London makes sense, particularly for things that need to be fresh and delivered quickly. But so does allocating industrial land in the right location. The industrial sector includes manufacturers, makers and designers, who all provide a range of job opportunities from entry-level to highly skilled and technical roles.
Furnace believes that vibrant, productive and sustainable cities rely on an exciting mix of commercial activity, not just housing and shopping.
The latest draft version of the London Plan shows that the GLA is serious about retaining industrial space. It has strengthened the protection of industrial land so the city’s supply chain can continue to function efficiently. This offers a huge opportunity for developers and landowners with the will and imagination to collaborate and create places where industry and homes coexist. A key challenge will be to change perceptions of living alongside or above ‘industrial’ spaces.
It’s already starting to happen: SEGRO and Barrett London are redeveloping the former Nestlé factory in Hayes into a mixed-use neighbourhood.
But, if the capital is to thrive and coexistance is to be achieved, land must be used more smartly. As architects, developers and landowners become increasingly innovative, Londoners can expect to see their neighbourhoods change, making the city an even more exciting place to be.