More warehousing space needed to build new homes, report reveals

A report commissioned by the British Property Federation has laid bare how much warehouse space is needed if the government hopes to meet its target of 300,000 additional homes per year.

The report, What Warehousing Where, produced by the planning consultancy Turley, examines the relationship between new housing and warehousing, as the government looks to tackle England’s housing shortfall.

According to the report, there has not yet been enough formal recognition by policy-makers about the quantum and location of warehousing space that is needed to meet the challenge.

The BPF has argued that this shows that additional space for warehousing – and where this will be – should be a central consideration for the government and the property sector as they hope to build sustainable communities.

Melanie Leech, chief executive of the BPF, said: ‘Few realise what a vital part warehousing and the logistics sector plays in our everyday lives. Warehousing does more than just ensure that online deliveries arrive on time, it also creates skilled jobs and delivers significant economic growth.

‘The government is under a lot of pressure to deliver new housing – and while this is important, a balanced approach to planning for sustainable communities must be taken.’

According to the report, there is currently 69 sq. ft. of warehousing space per home in England, while 20.6m sq. ft. of additional warehouse floorspace will be needed annually for the government to meet its 300,000-home target and maintain the current ratio.

Despite this, only two of the last six years have seen total warehouse space in England grow by more than this amount, while the 69 sq. ft. ratio will likely need to increase as demand for e-commerce and last-mile delivery grows.

The report has also highlighted the disparity between warehouse space in different regions of the UK, with some areas falling drastically short.

The West Midlands – a key national distribution hub – boasts 111 sq. ft. of warehouse space per home, while London ranks last of all the regions with just 40 sq. ft. due to its constrained supply of land.

Those behind the report said that policy-makers should take it seriously, with Turley saying that it will allow the country to take a ‘more informed approach’ to planning.

‘Although different regions will clearly have different requirements and capacities for growth, [the report] gives us a clear and simple picture of the volume of warehousing required to service our society at large,’ Leech added.

‘We urgently need this in order to make sure that decision-makers and planners can respond and create sustainable communities that bring benefits to both existing residents and newcomers.’

The BPF has urged the government to require local planning authorities to consider the role their area plays – or could play – in the national logistics network.

The federation has also said that developers, operators and industry representatives must be involved at all levels of policy-making to express what they need to deliver sustainable communities.

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