On the surface, combining ‘beds and sheds’ seems like a quick fix for the government’s pledge to build more homes. With land in our cities growing ever more scarce, these multipurpose schemes appear, on the surface at least, to be able to maximise development potential and meet the needs of both residential and industrial and logistics sectors.
The issue with beds and sheds, specifically in London, is that these developments focus on trying to cater for two uses that do not naturally gel well in the same structure.
There are specific building requirements in both sectors and trying to meet these sometimes conflicting needs can have adverse effects. Ultimately, you could end up with a building that isn’t really fit for either purpose.
The challenge arises from shared use in operation. It’s quite natural for people in their homes to want peace and quiet at night-time, something that is written into environmental protection law. This is particularly damaging to logistics occupiers, which operate within strict time margins, as the bulk of last-mile onsite operations happen through the evening into the early hours, in preparation for the next morning’s rush hour.
The requirement for specialised insurance policies and achieving health, safety and fire regulations often means that buildings require a higher amount of effort to build and insure, but often serve neither tenant effectively. Ultimately, this means driving more cost and inefficiency into the sector.
Even in Japan, where we have built multi-level developments for more than 20 years, the concept of beds and sheds seemed a puzzling initiative to experts and not one that had been seriously entertained, beyond considering the possibility of rest accommodation for drivers.
While a novel idea in theory, beds and sheds is more difficult to deliver in practice. Other forms of mixed-use schemes are likely to be more suitable, such as offices above logistics spaces, where the hours of operation for both sectors will complement each other.
Robin Woodbridge, senior vice-president and head of capital deployment, Prologis UK
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