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Helen Thomas’s column on the question of logistics businesses on UK real estate websites (‘Leveling loses the yard if it’s just about houses’, Opinion, 27 August) rightly advocates “a low level of strategic oversight with a view to employment and rebirth issues, as well as housing”.
Instead of the former ‘local spatial strategies’, we currently have an incoherent subregional patch of industrial strategies and, of course, a broken system of local plans.
But there is a relatively simple solution to what is clearly a growing national problem: the special planning regime we have for ‘nationally important infrastructure projects’.
This already applies to large logistics sites served by rail, and can be extended to other nationally important logistics sites without primary legislation.
The “National Policy Statement of the National Networks”, which is now being revised in the light of the government’s transport decarbonisation plan, may also apply to other major logistical areas, and thus provides the strategic oversight that is much needed. And as plans come up, there is a suspicion that permission is being given.
The government can also make sure that its planning bill not only focuses on housing, but that it contains much-needed reforms to the parts of the planning system that deal with labor land, such as logistics development.
The result? Proper strategic and spatial planning within a proven system; and then consent under the national infrastructure planning regime for larger and more complex sites and an improved local planning regime for all others.
Partner and Parliamentary Agent
Head of Infrastructure Planning and Government Affairs, Pinsent Masons London EC2, UK