Property company British Land is set to turn empty shopping centres car parks into urban distribution sites for same-day delivery firms.
According to reports in The Guardian, the company which owns Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre plans to convert car parks and empty retail spaces into last-mile delivery hubs.
Under the multi-million pound plan, the firm aims to spend £189m on assets with “urban logistics potential”. This includes sites in central London where British Land could buy warehouses and build additional floors onto existing ones before renting these out to retailers providing rapid delivery in the capital.
“Taking existing logistics assets and going up, making them multi-storey, has been seen a lot in other supply-constrained markets particularly across Asia, and you are seeing more in Paris, but it hasn’t been done to a huge extent in the UK,” said Simon Carter, British Land’s chief executive.
“Increasing expectation of delivery times, same-day delivery and in some cases 10-minute delivery is creating colossal demand for space at the same time that industrial space has shrunk in London.”
British Land has recently acquired sites including an £87m warehouse at Heritage House in Enfield, close to the M25 motorway, and a £20m underground car park in Finsbury Square, central London.
The firm said it will add an extra floor to the Enfield space, which is currently fully let to tenants including the supermarket Waitrose. It will also convert the majority of a retail park on the eastern edge of the M25 at Thurrock, in Essex, into a logistics hub by building a multi-storey warehouse.
Furthermore, the Finsbury Square car park will be divided into smaller units creating a logistics hub to serve the City of London with ultra-fast grocery deliveries as well as takeaway meals prepared in ‘dark kitchens’.
It has been reported that British Land will also revamp the green space above the car park, whether any car parking spaces will be retained was not disclosed.