The Last Mile
23 May 18
Logistics is changing, and it’s no wonder; we no longer wish to spend our down time in the supermarket buying essential goods. Approximately half of our retail spending is undertaken in “task mode” via online websites, i.e. purchasing everyday items such as washing powder and cleaning products.
Logistics is changing, and it’s no wonder; we no longer wish to spend our down time in the supermarket buying essential goods. Approximately half of our retail spending is undertaken in “task mode” via online websites, i.e. purchasing everyday items such as washing powder and cleaning products. The remaining proportion is the battleground for comparison shopping, where actual experiences on the high street are needed to compete with online convenience.
The topic of disruptive online technology affecting the traditional high street is no longer novel. Consumers increasingly demand “everything and now”. We expect to be able to ‘Click and Collect’ within 24 hours; to wait patiently for our ‘One Hour’ deliveries and receive food from our favourite restaurant within minutes. Behind the scenes the logistics and distribution worlds are having to evolve at great pace to ensure it can keep up with our consumer behaviour.
However, as we hear the debates on the latest disruptive technology trends such as the Starship technology in Milton Keynes, the Virgin Hyperloop between London and Edinburgh and the Amazon Treasure Truck, the fundamentals for on the ground deliveries remain a planning battle for land uses. Solving ‘The Last Mile’ headache is increasingly difficult and with millennial purchasing power not yet at full potential, the era of online shopping is set to place a greater strain on our transport infrastructure if a solution is not found.
In London there is a call for the Draft London Plan to deliver on this matter; to provide a cohesive approach between housing and logistics as the link between the two gets ever closer. What is needed, while there is time to react and consolidate, is to ensure planning policy doesn’t prohibit the technological advances we have made to-date, but rather ensures that land uses reflect the changing nature of the industry. Ultimately, the key first step is to recognise that losing industrial land all together in London Boroughs merely transfers the problem to our road network.
The Last Mile delivery conundrum requires collective effort from developers, their customers, and local authorities. As well as for the GLA to recognise this relationship and encourage mixed-use developments that support this relationship more than ever before. This policy debate will no doubt play out in the Examination of the London Plan later this year; however, with the publication of the new London Plan not set until later in 2019/20, we anticipate the blurred lines over appropriate land uses will require an open mind from all parties to ensure planning does not impede the ability to meet the demand of consumers.