A consultation by the Department for Transport and Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities was published on 4 July 2023 and seeks views and calls for evidence on the interaction between freight and logistics and the planning system in England. It is open until 6 October 2023. The aim is to collate evidence to shape new or amended planning policies to reflect the Government's vision for local planning authorities relating to freight including local plan making, land allocation, the planning process and policy priorities.

The freight and logistics sector is a key part of the UK economy, contributing £127 billion GVA through over 200,000 enterprises. This requires multiple modes of freight transport and the right infrastructure to enable the system to operate seamlessly. On 15 June 2022, the Future of Freight: a long-term plan (“FoF”) was published setting out a long term vision for the sector identifying the main opportunities and challenges and priority actions (see our previous post for further details).  Since then progress has been made in relation to the planning system including the updated DfT Circular 01 2022 (replacing Circular 02 2013) on The Strategic road network and the delivery of sustainable development, a commitment to consult on updates to local transport plan guidance and an intention to publish an updated manual for streets. The FoF also committed the Government to undertake the call for evidence to gain a clearer understanding of the practical issues, which is being now carried out in the context of the wider Government focus on planning and the framework of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.

The FoF sets out that the planning needs are wide-ranging and complicated and a single intervention will not be appropriate. It also highlighted concerns about the system facilitating freight-related development, such as new warehouses and distribution hubs in response to the growth in demand for home delivery.

The consultation asks for responses from freight and logistics sector businesses, developers and, local authorities, representative or trade bodies for the planning, transport, freight and logistics and other organisations, such as sub national transport bodies, metro mayors’ offices and companies delivering zero emission energy infrastructure for freight and interested and expert individuals.

The questions posed relating to local plan making and land availability are:

  • How effective are local plans at identifying development needs, and then allocating sites, for freight and logistics and how could this be improved?
  • How effectively are the policies in national planning policy (Chapter 6) and associated practice guidance applied by plan makers in supporting the needs of freight and how could this be improved?
  • How effective is engagement between industry and local authorities in the course of local plan making? How can this be improved?
  • How effectively does planning currently support efficient use of established freight and logistics infrastructure? How could it better support existing infrastructure?
  • How should freight and logistics be factored into statutory local transport plans and sub-national transport strategies?

Turning to planning decision taking and the applications process, the consultation asks what aspects of the applications and decision taking process work well and what aspects do not work well.

On policy priorities, the consultation asks:

  • How effective is the planning system at addressing the operational needs of the freight and logistics sector and how could this be improved? How could a national freight network be recognised in national planning policy?
  • How can the planning system support our net zero ambition for freight and logistics?
  • What more could local plans and decisions do to facilitate the supply of high-quality HGV parking and driver facilities?
  • How can planning policy in England help to support the freight and logistics sector across the whole of the UK?

The consultation asks for responses on an online form or in writing via email or post. It also sets out that there will be call for evidence events on 13 and 14 July 2023 and further information can be obtained by emailing FreightandPlanningCfE@dft.gov.uk.

If you have any queries on the consultation or would like any assistance with responses, please let us know, we have extensive experience of consenting schemes in this sector.