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Strategic Industrial Land (SIL) and Housing Supply

Strategic Industrial Land (SIL) and Housing Supply


With land to build new homes at a premium and the resistance to building on greenbelt, the drive to find suitable brownfield sites continues. Increasingly, in many of our urban areas, industrial land is protected in planning policy. For example, the London Plan sets out a process that could allow residential development on Strategic Industrial Land (SIL) as long as there is no net loss of industrial floor space. However, it is often asked whether it is actually possible to effectively accommodate both land uses together and transport is often cited as the main issue.

There is no doubt that addressing transport (which typically includes accessibility, parking, servicing and noise) is a key challenge in the successful delivery of these sites as their uses are often seen to be conflicting. At first glance, who wants to live next door to a service yard taking deliveries 24 hours a day?  However, when considered more carefully, industrial sites represent an excellent opportunity to accommodate future growth without compromising either the residential environment or the ability of an industrial operator to run a viable business.

Fortunately, historic transport needs have meant that many of our industrial areas are located on corridors adjacent to railway lines or along canals. This in turn has created a significant opportunity, as many of these sites have the benefit of being well connected to existing or proposed transport networks and are able to open up canal frontage or railway arches as new public spaces.

For example, the recent commitment by TfL to bring forward the Bakerloo Line extension will open up large industrial areas in Southwark for redevelopment, particularly within the Old Kent Road Opportunity Area. Emerging proposals in Hillingdon are considering the opening up of areas of along the River Colne and Grand Union Canal.

In addition, as much as 30% of ground floor space in existing industrial areas has traditionally been given over to car parking. Increasing public transport accessibility along key corridors would allow future employees to commute by sustainable modes and future residents to live without the need of a car, freeing up this valuable space for new development.

Our experience on these mixed-use sites has typically seen HGVs or large vehicles continue to access at ground floor level so that primary logistical operations can continue unhindered whilst intensifying the space above and around the sheds to provide new office accommodation and residential units. This type of arrangement has allowed roof top areas to be used as communal gardens and private residential space whilst keeping the ground floor areas for industrial use.

In turn, the reshaping of these spaces has allowed new ideas to be proposed in respect of servicing, accessibility and parking which has rationalised the space typically required for these uses were they to be considered independently therefore maximising the amount of new development that can be accommodated.


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