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London's Industrial Land: Cause for Concern?

Ferm, JA; Jones, E; (2015) London's Industrial Land: Cause for Concern? UCL (University College London): London, UK. Green open access

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Abstract

Housing required to meet the projected population growth is rapidly swallowing up London’s industrial land. London Plan projections suggest that manufacturing and industry is in decline, so industrial land will soon not be of much use to the city and can be gradually developed in a process of ‘managed release’. But it may be that the destruction of London’s infrastructure of employment land will have a detrimental and unpredictable impact on London’s present status as a world-leading business hub and have unexpected negative implications for Londoners who live and work in the city. The paper draws on a review of existing literature and research, as well as evidence presented from grassroots organisations in response to the Further Alterations to the London Plan. It argues that manufacturing is changing, but it is not dead. Smaller manufacturers whose work cannot easily be replicated overseas are flourishing and the UK remains the 6th largest exporter on the planet. Industrial land also accommodates diverse industrial activities and infrastructure aside from manufacturing, as well as small creative and service sector businesses, voluntary and community organisations, who benefit from the relative affordability and flexibility of premises on industrial land, which are increasingly difficult to find elsewhere given London’s rampant property market. Together these activities provide vital support to London’s economy and residents, and contribute to London’s diversity, vibrancy and overall status as a World City – as London continues to grow, it will need more (not less) of these goods and services. The evidence presented demonstrates that on-going loss of industrial land is being driven largely by real estate speculation rather than deindustrialisation. However, evidence for the actual state of industrial land - who does business there, how those businesses are linked together and embedded in the places they occupy - is thin on the ground. This lack of information means the impact of this loss of industrial land is a worrying mystery; the current move away from separating industrial land towards mixed use in London’s built environment – both on ideological grounds and in response to housing need – needs to be much better understood. There is an urgency to this. The UK Government has proposed to further deregulate the planning system to facilitate conversion of industrial land to housing without the need for planning permission. Concern is particularly acute in London where differences between industrial and residential land values are likely to drive redevelopment if Permitted Development Rights are extended. We may be blindly heading towards a situation where London becomes a densely packed, high value residential dormitory, instead of a vibrant global city.

Type: Working / discussion paper
Title: London's Industrial Land: Cause for Concern?
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of the Built Environment > The Bartlett School of Planning
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1461419
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