Industrial space is undeniably hot property. Current rental and capital values in London are 36% and 64% up on their 10-year averages respectively, according to the Greater London Authority’s latest study on the supply of industrial land. 

Holly Lewis

Holly Lewis

This is being driven by a growth in demand for space – big-box logistics space in particular – and increasingly constrained supply, especially in London and the South East.

The same study showed that 1,483ha of London’s industrial land has been lost to non-industrial uses, including residential, between 2001 and 2019 – a contraction of 18%. Yet London is growing – there are more people to feed, to clothe, to send packages to and to benefit from all of the wonderful functions that our industrial areas provide.

Of course, we need homes and industrial spaces. We need new tactics for achieving much-needed homes and workspace. One of these tactics is industrial intensification – the idea that it is possible to fit more employment space on to conventional industrial plots.

We believe industrial areas can be reconceived as hubs of innovation and desirable places to work and visit

At We Made That, we have been thinking about how this can be done since our work on the mayor of London’s Industrial Intensification and Co-Location Study in 2018. Multi-storey industrial buildings where units on upper floors are serviced by vehicular ramps or goods lifts may be commonplace in places like Hong Kong, but they are rare beasts in this country.


We were pleased to support the early stages of Haworth Tompkins’ Industria (pictured) in Barking, east London, which, along with dRMM’s Charlton WorkStack in south London and the Gewerbehof Laim in Munich, is one of the few recently built European examples of ‘flatted factories’. Conventional wisdom has been sceptical about how readily businesses will adapt to this new kind of accommodation, and whether chargeable values will support the increased construction costs of such buildings.

Yet with substantial public sector support to deliver Industria and the Charlton Workstack, we can now test the market appetite for real, and the private sector is beginning to follow suit. Already, we are hearing positive feedback on improved environmental performance and increased security from these buildings’ tenants. These lessons will be wrapped into new design guidance like that from the mayor of London, which is now out for consultation.

We have entered a new phase of the conversation about the role that industrial areas play. We believe they can be reconceived as hubs of innovation and desirable places to work and visit. It’s sad to say that in the near past, none of this has been assumed. Intensifying the use of our industrial areas will be a key tactic to underpin this new, optimistic approach.

Holly Lewis is co-founding partner of We Made That