The logistics sector is the backbone of the UK economy. It accounts for £55bn of the UK GDP, 1.7m jobs, and underpins how we function day-to-day, both in business and our everyday lives. But what does the public think about the sector and how do communities respond to large-scale logistics hubs?
Changes in shopping patterns alone have accelerated the growth of the logistics industry. COVID-19 shifted the onus onto online shopping, with more and more people abandoning district centre shopping in favour of ordering from their laptop or smartphone.
The likes of Amazon and other online retailers were the main beneficiaries, whilst supermarkets also adapted. In total, online sales grew by over 20% during the period of lockdowns between 2020 and 2021.
53 football pitches
To accommodate the growth in demand, more and more land is required for warehousing and logistics hubs. In fact, the equivalent of 53 football pitches is required across Europe to fulfil demand in the next few years.
However, it’s clear that our planning legislation has been slow to catch up. Local Plans are still very residential focused, with employment (or commercial) land sometimes counted as an after-thought when local authorities draw up their development frameworks. As well as this, public attitudes towards logistics development does not always align with the growth in demand.
Economic gains drive support
To help understand the challenges facing the sector and also to provide insight on how best to work with communities in developing logistics proposals, Copper commissioned detailed research into how the logistics development is perceived by people across the UK.
Our findings have uncovered some interesting considerations and with it helped us in providing some key recommendations:
- There is broad degree of understanding that the development of employment land is necessary:
- 67% would support the development of logistics centres because of the employment opportunities they would bring
- 61% cited economic growth as a reason for support
- There is a degree of misunderstanding about how the logistics sector functioned, meaning educating communities on what logistics is and how it functions is required.
To assist with tackling these issues, we have developed four key recommendations for the sector based on the research we commissioned:
- More collaboration with local authorities is required to develop shared goals and objectives
- People are largely supportive of the economic importance of the logistics sector and therefore should be front and centre of any proposals
- There is a degree of misunderstanding about the sector, therefore an education programme on its importance and way it works is required
- Early engagement is key. Working with communities in developing proposals and schemes will minimise challenge and problems.
Now, these steps are not a magic bullet for all logistics development. However, we are introducing these thoughts as part of a conversation to build stronger collaboration between the sector, communities and local authorities. It’s clear that demand for logistics development is growing, but without the necessary land or planning approvals the sector will stall.
It’s clear that there is a huge amount of opportunity for the logistics sector to work with communities and local authorities to meet the growing demand for logistics development. However, engagement and positioning is key to ensure proposals are welcomed.
To find out more about our research and findings visit Logistics-Report.pdf (copperconsultancy.com)