Press Releases

16 Oct 2023

BPF calls for return to strategic planning to create a more effective planning framework for freight and logistics

London - The British Property Federation, the voice of the UK real estate industry, has called for greater strategic planning in their response to the government’s Call for Evidence on planning for freight and logistics.

This could be achieved by the government preparing a ‘National Supply Chain Infrastructure Framework’ that would sit alongside the National Planning Policy Framework and associated guidance to help all local and combined authorities plan more effectively for freight and logistics and to reinforce the sector’s role as critical national infrastructure.

Under the current system, strategic ‘larger than local’ logistics employment sites are simply not being planned for effectively as they rely on cooperation between authorities – with requirements for local authorities to work together through the planning system being less effective since the abolition of Regional Spatial Strategies in 2010. This has been to the detriment of the wider economy and has undermined international investment with strategic employment sites tending to attract nationally and internally mobile business activity, as well as specific growth centres.

The BPF response to the call for evidence also focuses on the current shortcomings of the Local Plan process noting the existing system has failed to keep pace with the fast-changing nature of market demand, particularly as a result of the huge growth of e-commerce. The current overreliance on out-of-date evidence bases means that Local Plans often do not reflect the economic reality in the present day.

The BPF therefore suggests the local plan process going forward needs to become more agile with more flexible planning mechanisms to enable employment sites to come forward outside of the formal Local Plan cycle when it makes sense to do so. For example, many forward-thinking local authorities, experienced in catering for freight and logistics, adopt ‘criteria based’ local policies to enable this with the BPF response noting this approach should be rolled out across the country.

The BPF’s response is also supplemented by 52 case studies which bring to life the challenges of bringing forward industrial and logistics projects throughout the country as well the examples of best practice in terms of planning for this form of development. These case studies serve as the bedrock of evidence that sits behind ’10 key asks’, which focus on how the existing planning framework for freight and logistics can be improved.

Ben Taylor, Planning Director at Newlands Developments and Chair of the BPF Industrial Committee, said: “We have been calling for a step-change in the way we plan for our industrial and logistics uses for some time now and these changes are imperative if the sector is going to reach its full potential and play a leading role in levelling up and driving wider economic growth. The publication of this call for evidence has therefore been strongly welcomed by the sector and serves as an indication that central government policymakers recognise the urgent need to create a more productive planning environment for industrial and logistics.

“It is our strong hope that the mountain of evidence assembled by our Members from all corners of the industrial and logistics sector across the country, which has resulted in our detailed response and case study evidence, can positively make the case for reform when the fuller review of national planning policy and associated guidance gets underway next year.”

Read the BPF’s full response to the government's planning for freight and logistics call for evidence here.  

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