The dominant logistical activities of storage, freight transport and materials handling require substantial amounts of land. It is estimated, for example, that in 2006 warehousing occupied around 23,500 ha in England and Wales. This paper examines the changing demand for land from the logistics sector. It begins by classifying logistics-related land uses and reviewing available statistics from government sources and property consultants, most of which apply to warehousing. Recent trends in warehouse development are discussed, particularly the centralisation of floorspace in a smaller number of larger distribution centres. Previous attempts to forecast the future land requirements of logistics have assumed a close correlation between warehouse floorspace and economic growth. This paper argues that this relationship is likely to be distorted by several factors over the next few decades. A model is presented which shows the interaction between a range of factors likely to influence future logistics land requirements. These include the off-shoring of manufacturing, the rebalancing of logistical cost trade-offs in an era of higher oil prices and lower inventory costs, modal shift to rail and water, the growth of online retailing, advances in warehouse technology, the reconfiguration of the waste supply chain and the adaptation of logistical systems to the effects of climate change. The main section of the paper examines the possible effects of each of these factors on the amount of land that will be needed to support logistical activities, and its spatial distribution. © 2009 Queen's Printer and Controller of HMSO.
- Distribution centres
- Land use