Crystal ball gazing…

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Chancellor Alistair Darling took the opportunity in his first Budget to announce that as well as aiming for zero carbon homes he would be looking at all new property to be zero carbon rated by 2019.

Encouraging sustainability even further the government published a Planning Policy Statement on Climate Change wherein it asked local planning authorities to encourage on-site renewable energy and community energy schemes to help cut carbon emissions from new developments.

The new planning rules will mean councils and developers should be considering green technologies such as solar panels, wind turbines or heat pumps that can generate energy from on the site of new development as well as designs that cope with climate change. They should also look at the potential for connecting developments to neighbouring community heating and power schemes that can serve an entire local community.

These plans build on the Merton rule which requires all new non-residential developments above a certain size to generate at least ten per cent of their energy on-site from renewable sources or the Mayor of London’s plans to double renewable’s share of UK electricity supply from the 2010 target of ten per cent to 20 per cent by 2020.

This will have a considerable impact on the way warehouses will be designed in the future. Already there are developments in the pipeline which will meet these demands. Gazeley has been challenged to produce a scheme, which will meet all the government’s criteria by the end of the year. In December last year Advantage West Midlands and Newcastle under Lyme council selected Gazeley to develop a 31-acre site at Chatterley Valley in Staffordshire. The £50m scheme Blue Planet Chatterley Valley will see the development of the world’s first carbon positive logistics park.

It will boast its own bio-fuel micro power station, using rapeseed oil, which will produce sufficient power and heat for the on-site buildings and a surplus that will provide enough energy to power up to 650 local homes.

Jonathan Fenton Jones of Gazeley says: “This development is part of an overall commitment to sustainability and to buildings which are cheaper to operate.”

Owen Holder of Knight Frank agrees that green issues and the move to a more sustainable future will have a profound affect on the design of warehouses but also adds that the availability of land will also have its affect.

“We are already seeing the emergence of the two and three storey sheds to fully use land [such as Brixton’s X2 building in Heathrow].

” In Europe distribution warehouses are less land hungry with minimal yards compared to the UK. Typically the model adopted by Belgian third party logistics operators Katoen Natie adopts a building to site coverage of around 60 per cent compared to the UK being nearer 40 per cent. It’s a more efficient use of the land.”

Internet shopping

Katoen Natie has recently received outline planning approval for 780,000 sq ft on 32 acres at Immingham. Knight Frank and DTZ have been appointed agents.

Steve Lamb of states that the single biggest trend to influence the location, size and design of the future warehouse will come from the increase in internet shopping.

“While the demand for mega-sheds of up to a million square feet to support conventional retail outlets may grow, we may well see demand for smaller and more regional order preparation and shipment warehouses for direct home deliveries. Cross docking facilities which help minimise stock levels and are designed for fast selection, sortation and dispatch of orders as small as an individual item, are sure to increase.

Traffic volume

“While storage space is reduced to the minimum, the high traffic volume typical of such an operation will almost certainly require ample space for vehicles and a high number of loading docks – ensuring that deliveries and dispatches are not delayed.

“As a guide, while a typical warehouse building may occupy over half the usable site, a full cross docking facility may take less than a quarter. In addition without the need for volume storage, such buildings do not need to be very high, with an operational internal height of 6m usually more than adequate.”

And with increasing fuel bills and congestion on the roads rail may well come into its own. Holder says this will inevitably lead to changes in the design of buildings as they adapt to deal with rail-transported goods.

Lamb agrees and adds: “More companies will certainly be looking seriously at the advantages of using rail freight, including greatly improved reliability, in many cases competitive costs and its contribution to a safer and cleaner environment.

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