Fact Checking the New Lane ‘Last mile delivery’ hub application

Let’s just try and ‘fact check’ our post on the planning submission for 32 New Lane.

Statement (Fact)Source
So who actually is it?Until the applicant comes clean and completes the documentation properly, we won’t know. All we’ve said is that based on the information given, the ‘100 sites across Europe’ listed in the documentation link to at least well known one pan-European operator. Rumours abound on social media, but we’d prefer it not to be the outfit who didn’t come off too well in Bathgate and Tilbury.
150 Jobs will be lost, no new jobs created? (Fact)The application document shows 150 existing jobs will be lost at the site, but does not include any figure for new jobs provided. The ‘relocation’ and ‘consolidation’ quotes are attributable.
Source: Application Form – Section 18
Or is that really fake news? Well, to tell the truth, nobody will know until the applicant fills in the missing information on the rather shoddily presented Application Form. Of course, any operation of the size and scale of the one that appears to be described in the documentation needs employees, or perhaps we should say ‘sweatshop labour’. We’ve discussed that a bit further here.
‘Around 2,500 truck movements a day?’ (Fact)The number quoted in the Transport Statement is 2,415 movements of Heavy Goods Vehicles and Light Goods Vehicles per day. The actual source numbers come from the ‘Occupier Traffic Data’, Appendix F, Transport Statement (Part 3)
95 % of the traffic will be heading straight out of, or straight into town through the existing traffic hotspots. (Fact)
Source: Transport Statement, Table 5.6
‘Two thirds of this traffic will be at peak times’. (Fact)We define peak times as 06:00 to 08:59, and 16:00 to 18:59. Using these time intervals, the actual percentage from their own figures is 66.1%.
Source: Appendix F, Transport Statement (Part 3)
This is not a sustainable ‘Last mile delivery’ opportunity. (Fact)Read the UK Government’s position statement on last mile logistics, and then look at the City of London’s recent approval of an Amazon, sustainable ‘last mile delivery’ hub, the scale of which is completely different to that proposed at 32 New Lane. What we have here is simply a proposal for an industrial scale warehousing and distribution operation. The 2,500 diesel powered goods vehicle movements each day from within a town centre residential population is hardly sustainable!

It is at this point where we have to hold our hands up. The next fact was going to be “29% of the traffic will be routed down New Lane towards Eastern Road”. Now we found this figure in a couple of places in the Transport Statement, imbedded in graphics of tables so don’t bother trying to search for them without looking at every page!

What is particularly interesting in this table is that it tells us, given that there are only three ways in and out of the site by road, that 70% of the traffic will be taking off vertically and flying out the site. Most impressive we thought, and then we encountered another chart on the very next page…

Life’s really too short to try and square Table 5.8 with Table 5.7, but the really important thing to take away from this is:

Property Investment Companies hunt for ‘Intended Occupiers’ then employ Developers who employ Agents to contract Specialist Agencies to produce this nonsense. In this whole perpetual game of Chinese whispers, the vast piles of documentation that lands on the overloaded Planning Officer’s desk is simply there to impress by its sheer weight.

It probably even arrived by a courier service along with a DVD containing all the soft copy.

It’s important to understand why large companies throw lots of money at consultants to write their documents for them. Take this example from the Conclusion of the Transport Statement – the only page, we’ll wager, that most officers and Councillors will ever read:

“The occupier proposes to use the site as a ‘last mile’ distribution centre, where parcels are delivered via small vans to customers in the local area. The occupier is looking to consolidate their operations on one site and this has resulted in the current proposal for the van storage deck which would house the van fleet overnight while the drivers are not out on deliveries as opposed to vans being stored in the local area on separate sites.”

Let’s just unpick that paragraph:

parcels are delivered via small vansThese will be large, long wheelbase ‘Transit’ type vehicles, capable of holding a days worth of deliveries
to customers in the local area The deliveries are to customers over the whole of Hampshire, Sussex and Surrey. Only 5% of them will be to the ‘local’ Havant Borough area.
the occupier is looking to consolidate their operations
on one site
Their business plan is to close smaller sites throughout the the three counties to get everything in one place. They will not be making their staff redundant but will be relocating them to New Lane. That’s why they want to be near the station, so some of their current workforce can get here more easily. There are no new jobs associated with this planning application.
house the van fleet overnight while the drivers are not out on deliveriesThe vans have to be onsite overnight since it’s their night shift workers that will fill them up ready for the drivers in the morning!
as opposed to vans being stored in the local area on separate sites.Sounds good? No more vans parked outside houses overnight? No. See the previous line. The vans have to be onsite overnight otherwise their business model doesn’t work.

If the Planning Officer doesn’t have the time to wade through this nonsense, and we know that the Traffic Management Team didn’t, then there’s absolutely no chance that the Councillors who make up the Planning Committee and make the decisions which dictate the future of the town, will be able to make the time either!

Reminder – there are local elections coming up.