Collaboration and co-location: a joined-up approach to planning

Our latest market leading report, BIG Things in SMALL Boxes, conducted in collaboration with Savills, highlights the lack of available sub-100k sq. ft. Industrial & Logistics (I&L) space to meet the growing demand across England. Ultimately, this shortage of stock means that businesses must ‘make do’ with their current facilitieswhich suppresses demand and economic growth. 

Our report found that demand is currently suppressed in England on average by 38%, leading to a loss in Gross Value Added to the economy of £480 million per year. If this situation isn’t addressed, the lack of sub-100k sq. ft. space to move into could stop more business from growing – blocking job creation at the same time. 

One of the main causes of this is the lack of supply of land to develop on. The battle for land has been weighted towards residential to meet government quotas for new housing. Available land also attracts larger big-box developers who have purchased significant amounts of available land for larger I&L developments. 

So, what can be done? The answer lies in joined-up thinking and collaboration between the I&L industry, planners, industry bodies, local authorities and Government. By working together, solutions can be found, and the conversation can move forward – from ‘why’ to ‘how’. 

Solutions that maximise space 

One potential solution is ‘co-location’. Also known as site-sharing, this method could ease the planning process and requires collaboration between large and small developers to make it a success. Large developers work in the ‘big box’ segment of the I&L property market – with properties typically over 100k sq. ft. Often these developers find that there are areas of their sites unsuited to big box buildings, and this is where the opportunity for smaller providers, known as small to mid-box, comes in.  

Small to mid-box providers typically work with properties that are sub-100k sq. ft. These properties are often more adaptable to irregular sites or areas close to residential developments, beside motorway junctions or railway tracks – perfect for spaces on site that big box providers simply can’t use. Maximising land use by site sharing, as well as sharing amenities, could help to speed up the planning process and make more space available to more customers quickly. 



Unlocking local economies 

Not only will co-location mean more space for customers, but it will also help to generate wealth and unlock job opportunities for local communities. The careers on offer are expanding exponentially, with small to mid-box warehouses becoming hubs for research and development and cutting-edge technology alongside more traditional warehouse roles and apprenticeships. In fact, our research showed that around 31% of apprentices within the I&L industry (or 13,000) start their careers in SMEs which operate out of small to mid-box warehouses. If the problem of suppressed demand was solved efficiently, this figure could quickly rise to 18,000 – providing long-term careers and helping to reduce the national skills gap. 

Collaborating to create a balanced future 

There are many potential solutions to smooth the planning process and free up more land for development, but all require communication, collaboration and most importantly, forward thinking. We’re looking forward to keeping this conversation moving as part of our ambitious five-year vision to provide quality homes for business for all of our customers, allowing their businesses to thrive on our sites. 

Chris Collins Head of Asset Management at Potter Space said: Co-location is a key lever that needs to be fully exploited if the property industry is to support businesses by producing enough stock to unlock the supressed demand.  

Looking for your perfect home for business? See our available units here, or alternatively, get in touch with one of our expert team members today. 


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