Unused retail and commercial spaces could be used for “last mile” delivery. Image – Canva.
  • A shift in consumption needs a shift in freight and logistics, says PCA director Ross Grove
  • 11 actions have been outlined in Macroplan's research to improve the industry
  • Urbanising and localising distribution, and 24/7 delivery measures were among the main actions

Today, Macroplan released its research paper Planning for the urban freight evolution calling for New South Wales planning authorities and stakeholders to review freight and logistics.

The Property Council of Australia’s (PCA) Western Sydney director Ross Grove said the paper’s 11 key actions were vital for the incoming freight revolution and could contribute to the immediate needs of the freight and logistics industry.

“The nature of our consumption is such that we’re seeing a shift in the mixture of conventional retail, online order and delivery services. We need to ensure our planning system changes to reflect this reality”

Ross Grove, PCA Western Sydney director

Rises in e-commerce, increased delivery and receiving methods, and demand for storage space are a few of the changes stated in the paper.

The research said governments use old policy tools to solve new and emerging issues.

“The NSW Government has been happy to endorse changes around delivery frameworks to take account of COVID-19 but, if the delivery frameworks are no longer temporary then it is the planning system that needs to change permanently to reflect a restructured delivery industry.”

The paper calls for 11 simple actions to be implemented by authorities to contribute to the immediate needs of the industry in addition to taking into account structural planning issues.

Mr Grove said the long-term changes in the commercial landscape has caused empty shopfronts, leaving the potential for them to be repurposed as community distribution points.

“Reactivating these places for the new economy will take pressure off our existing supply of industrial land, which is presently high in demand.”

General manager of planning at Macroplan Daniela Vujic said a lack of land supply for freight and logistics uses in the Greater Sydney Region had resulted in several companies preferring other cities such as Melbourne where serviced land supply was available.

Melbourne is preferable over Sydney when it comes to the freight and logistics industry. Image – Canva.

“Sydney is riddled with a lack of flexibility to use appropriate spaces, such as retail and commercial spaces for last mile delivery, handling and storage.”

Ms Vujic said a more localised distribution framework is needed in urban areas.

“This means we need to look at loading/unloading areas, electric vehicle charging, and the extension of 24/7 delivery arrangements where disruption to local communities is minimal.

“If we don’t start providing for localised distribution points this number will continue its exponential growth, increasing both the number of kilometres travelled, and the cost of small scale deliveries,” Ms Vujic said.

“11 Simple Actions”

1 Allow for the vertical integration of fulfillment and distribution centres and micro-depot solutions within mixed use and business zones, freeing up capacity and demand within industrial precincts
2 Prioritise industrial lands for uses which require separation from sensitive uses. Provide appropriate amenity and facilities for the workers of these precincts
3 Encourage dual functionality of existing uses and premises
4 Change development standards and planning requirements to permit vertical/multistorey warehousing
5 Development guidelines which ensure freight deliveries can occur efficiently and safely off the street for new residential and commercial developments, and investigate and encourage the opportunity for residential buildings to provide parking and electric charging stations for light commercial vehicles
6 Identify and support suitable CBD and urban locations for freight consolidation centres and micro-depot solutions
7 Identify and protect existing major freight and logistics hubs primarily for freight and logistics uses, and ensure key road and rail corridors are prioritised for these uses
8 Identify and plan for new freight and logistics precincts, in consultation and with input from industry stakeholders, which allow for large format warehousing and distribution facilities.
9 To accommodate growth, allow developments which improve the efficiency of urban freight movements by encouraging deliveries outside peak periods. Permanently retain the 24/7 freight delivery provisions for retail premises including supermarkets
10 Allow redundant shopping centre assets and vacant retail stores along main streets to function as a new distribution fabric
11 Facilitate swift planning approvals to ensure NSW can respond to shifting and growing freight demands

Planning for the urban freight evolution. Macroplan, 2021.


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