A sustained increase in demand from consumers for speedy deliveries has put pressure on logistics operators to further expand their vehicle fleets. So, it is not surprising that we are now seeing a new trend emerging in the logistics sector of increased requirements from operators looking for land specifically for parking.
Government-led green initiatives are translating to the logistics sector, with ecommerce and 3PLs working hard to develop their own green agendas to future-proof their last-mile delivery networks. As a result, where at the start of the year we were seeing lots of requirements for sites to park HGVs – possibly in anticipation of Brexit delays – this has now shifted, with more requirements coming through for urban sites that have the capacity for additional power to accommodate expanding electric fleets.
Amazon is, of course, the biggest player in the market. However, we are increasingly seeing more logistics operators including DPD, Hermes, Royal Mail and UPS, which are all looking to take up additional parking sites in anticipation of the upcoming peak Christmas period.
Finding sites to park these ever-increasing fleets of electric vehicles across the country is a challenge, though. The lack of available warehousing stock and development land, particularly close to urban centres, has been well reported, but there are additional barriers to overcome when looking for land for fleet parking.
Local authorities are not too keen on granting planning permission for uses that do not maximise employment opportunities, and they are also conscious of the negative local reaction to potential increased traffic and carbon emissions. Perhaps the biggest challenge, however, is finding sites where the power grid has sufficient capacity to provide fast electric charging points.
Of course, it makes sense that operators would want these parking sites to be located close to or next to their existing warehouses, as it is more efficient. We are seeing some deals where this is being achieved either with land acquisition for parking or by agreeing multi-storey car parking leases on nearby sites. Amazon, for example, recently took an additional eight-acre plot adjacent to its new 149,000 sq ft speculatively built facility at Multiply in Bolton for fleet parking.
Are the operators prepared to pay more to get these sites? Well, yes, it would seem they are. In fact, in London, we are witnessing operators pre-letting purpose-built parking decks but having to pay excessive rents to match the loss of investment value where funds would otherwise have built industrial facilities on the site.
It is certainly a trend to watch, as the demand from ecommerce and pressure on last-mile logistics is showing no signs of slowing any time soon.
Georgia Pirbhai is senior surveyor at Colliers
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