Freight, logistics and the planning system: Call for Evidence

7 minute read
14 July 2023


The Government has launched a Call for Evidence ("CfE") in the recent open consultation on freight, logistics and the planning system[1]. The CfE is based on 'The Future of Freight: a long term plan' ("FoF") published in June 2022. The primary objective is to seek views from those involved in the freight and logistics sector so that the planning needs of the freight and logistics sector can be properly and effectively identified and considered.

By assessing the planning needs of the sector, the CfE will explore ways in which the planning system can be amended to provide support to the freight and logistics sector to enable it to deliver a seamless flow of freight across the UK's roads, railways, seas, skies and canals in a way which is economically efficient, environmentally sustainable, reliable, and resilient.

The CfE further provides an opportunity for local planning authorities to work with the Government and the industry to address the shortage of space for crucial freight and logistics infrastructure. Its focus is on ensuring that there is no longer a detachment between the freight industry and local planning authorities.

The Call for Evidence is scoped around the following principles

  • Multi-modal – rail / road / aviation / maritime freight; warehousing; and distribution
  • Development and operations – the impact of the planning system on the development, operation and management of freight facilities
  • Operations at all levels - national, regional and local
  • Plan making and decision taking – central and local government policy plans and decisions
  • Impact on other government policy priorities – e.g. net zero, Levelling up and Regeneration Bill
  • What is working well today
  • What is not working well today

The questions in the Call for Evidence are structured in three sections

  1. Local plan making and land availability (questions 1-5)
    1. The planning system is the framework used to manage the use of land in the UK and currently where demand for land for key freight and logistics infrastructure is greater than the supply, changes need to be made. There must be a focus on: securing new land for the sector; the ability of operators to expand their facilities and the ability to modify existing sites to meet the evolving needs of the sector.
  2. Planning decision taking and the applications process (question 6)
    1. The open consultation stems from the perceived lack of proper consideration of freight and logistics matters in the plan making process. To enable the freight and logistics sector to deliver an efficient and reliable service which is resilient and sustainable, requires support and understanding from local planning authorities so that the right type of sites in the right places can be developed. Access to and authority for the use of land for freight and logistics purposes need to be dealt with consistently. Questions also deal with local planning authority's decision taking and aims to gather evidence on the experiences of applicants for planning permission.
  3. How the planning system can support specific policy priorities (question 7-10)
    1. Supporting supply chains – the FoF recognises the crucial role played by the freight and logistics sector and sets out how the domestic freight and logistics sector ranges from international gateways; to warehousing and distribution hubs; to residential delivery. The planning system can support supply chains but to do so requires an understanding of the needs of the sector at a regional and national level and an appreciation of the necessary infrastructure.
    2. The decarbonisation of freight – the Government aims for the freight and logistics sector to reach net zero by 2050 which will require new infrastructure made possible by land use and/or operational changes through modal shift.
    3. HGV driver parking facilities and welfare – the Government has committed to ensure that the planning system addresses the concerns of hauliers which currently includes lack of allocation of land for lorry parking.
    4. Strengthening the Union – the planning system can support the movement of freight across all countries within the UK which in turn will drive the economic activity of the UK and in turn, strengthen the Union.

The questions posed are as follows

  1. In your view, how effective are local plans at identifying development needs, and then allocating sites, for freight and logistics and how could this be improved?
  2. How effectively are the policies in Chapter 6 of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and associated practice guidance applied by plan makers in supporting the needs of freight and how could this be improved?
  3. How effective is engagement between industry and local authorities in the course of local plan making? How can this be improved?
  4. How effectively does planning currently support efficient use of established freight and logistics infrastructure? How could it better support existing infrastructure?
  5. How should freight and logistics be factored into statutory local transport plans and sub-national transport strategies?
  6. What aspects of the applications and decision taking process work well and what aspects do not work well?
  7. 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?
  8. How can the planning system support our net zero ambition for freight and logistics?
  9. What more could local plans and decisions do to facilitate the supply of high-quality HGV parking and driver facilities?
  10. How can planning policy in England help to support the freight and logistics sector across the whole of the UK?

How to get involved

Further details of the "Freight, logistics and the planning system: call for evidence" and instructions on how to respond before the closing date of 6 October 2023 can be found under the open consultations on the webpage.

How we can help

We are always keen to discuss the issues impacting upon your sector with you. Please feel free to pick up the phone and discuss the CfE with us – we would be delighted to share ideas, views and opinions. Please contact Cairo Nickolls or your usual Gowling WLG contact for further information.


[1] Open consultation - Freight and logistics and the planning system: call for evidence.

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