Changing consumer habits transforming logistics real estate

The landscape is changing (literally) as the UK marketplace evolves to meet changing consumer habits. The future in Britain – at least along major access routes – is looking increasingly logistics driven. Large industrial units are being delivered at a rate of knots along major arterial roads, and with the new PPG instructing Councils to collaborate to assess need and allocate sites for logistics, the government is recognising how it is all interlinked with housing needs and job creation for local people.

And with the fourth industrial revolution well and truly upon us, disruptive technologies and trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics, virtual reality (VR) and artificial intelligence (AI) are changing the way we live and work. With that, customer expectations are increasing greatly. We all expect to get goods faster, more flexibly, and – in the case of consumers – at low or no delivery cost. Manufacturing is becoming more and more customised, which is great for customers but hard work for the logistics industry. By making maximum and intelligent use of technology, from data analytics, to automation, to the ‘Physical Internet’, we are seeing our clients able to adjust to offer lower costs, improved efficiency, and the opportunity to make genuine breakthroughs in the way the industry works

Here at Woods Hardwick we are helping our clients deliver these new purpose built industrial and office spaces – from the planning and architecture, through to the build and handover. Back in 2016 we successfully secured the allocation of Phase 5 of Stratton Business Park in Biggleswade, right next to the A1. Following securing this, we were retained by Central Bedfordshire Council (CBC) Assets and Denison Investments Ltd to coordinate an outline planning application for phases 5 and 6. Our planners, working with our architects, engineering and surveying colleagues, secured planning permission for B1, B2 and B8 Use employment on circa 42 ha of land, since securing detailed consent for the infrastructure at Phase 5, including service road and drainage. 

This has enabled CBC Assets to sell off parcels of land to occupiers – including to one of our key clients, CEF. We recently designed and delivered a new bespoke 200,000 sq ft distribution centre and ancillary offices for CEF online on the new Business Park. The UK’s leading electrical wholesale supplier saw these new bespoke premises as the opportunity for the company to grow their business – from this central location in Bedfordshire. Our designs included a state of the art 100,000 sq ft automated distribution area, dock leveling and level vehicular access as well as 50,000 sq ft area of product storage racking on two mezzanine levels. A three storey 15,400 sq ft deluxe office building also formed part of the building footprint. The design of the building allows for expansion to both the distribution area and the offices with no disruption to the company operations – enabling CEF to continue to grow.

And on this same Business Park, just in the last few months, we secured permission for a 661,000 sq ft B8 use building on the entirety of the Phase 6 land on behalf of DB Symmetry (now Tritax Symmetry) – providing a regional distribution hub for the Co-operative Group.

So, with a workforce that is moving away from the grind sitting in traffic on the long daily commute, we are finding that people are now more inclined to live and work around office or industrial hubs such as Stratton Business Park. We are also seeing an increasing number of companies locating their regional offices within their industrial portfolio – as CEF has done and Co-op look to follow suit. With the government’s Industrial Strategy in play, their aim is to boost productivity by backing businesses to create good, well paid jobs and increase the earning power of people throughout the UK with investment in skills, industries and infrastructure. And it’s something we at Woods Hardwick are excited to support, helping our clients build the future of Britain, embracing disruptive technologies and championing the fourth industrial revolution.

Contact Russell Gray (Planning) or Calum Wilson (Architecture) to find out how we can support you.