Thames Gateway FQP Projects
The strategy and programme for the FQP emerged from the Thames Gateway London Transport Agenda and research by Bexley Council into distribution issues. Key areas of concern included:
- Freight vehicle access problems for town centres and industrial areas
- Adequate servicing provision in town centres, either off-street or on-street loading bays/areas
- Complaints from freight operators about locating industrial premises and finding suitable routes
- A need to upgrade local road signing, to complement recent improvements to the primary route signing.
Two pilot projects were developed to address these issues in retail and industrial environments within the Borough.
Pilot Project 1 - Bexleyheath High Street
The Broadway, which is the main commercial retailing area in Bexleyheath, is divided into small and medium sized businesses fronting the Broadway to the west, and larger retail outlets set within a pedestrianised area and shopping centre to the east. Based on initial consultation and research undertaken by Bexley Council, proposals for the pilot were identified, which was followed up by face-to-face visits to most of the 250 companies included in the survey. Parking surveys were then undertaken, with a review of street furniture.
Problems identified included blocking of delivery bays and rear service yards by other road users and in some areas the inability to make on-street deliveries due to parking restrictions and/or street furniture. Key outcomes included: gaining valuable survey data on the scale and variety of delivery activity, which was used to identify key issues and solutions identifying a relatively small number of “hot spots” requiring attention identifying and implementing a small number of solutions to strengthen parking enforcement and increase delivery bay availability, including improved liaison with parking enforcement officers; changes to a Traffic Regulation Order to control overspill parking affecting rear delivery bays; and alterations to street furniture to facilitate an additional loading bay.
Pilot Project 2 - Belvedere Employment Area
The Belvedere Employment Area (BEA) includes a number of distinct industrial estates, access to which had been partly severed by the subsequent construction of the dual carriageway Thames Road. Field surveys identified a wide range of transport, distribution, manufacturing, retail, and other commercial operations and associated vehicle traffic. They also highlighted the key issues subsequently identified in the business survey, including problems with lorry parking / overspill, conflicts between buses and goods vehicles, and the varying quality of signage, with evidence of “lost” drivers and vehicles.
Building on the experience of the earlier Bexleyheath Pilot, the Belvedere process involved initial publicity through a newsletter, followed by distribution of a business survey questionnaire. This was then followed up by face-to-face visits and telephone calls to around half of the companies in the sample. The process was aided by the involvement of the Belvedere Industrial Leaders Team (BILT), which provided a valuable existing business forum as the basis for consulting on the Pilot.
Key outcomes were: gaining valuable survey data on the scale and variety of delivery activity, which was used to identify key issues and solutions identifying a relatively small number of “hot spots” requiring attention identifying and implementing a small number of solutions to improve deliveries, including improved signage along the approaches to Thames Road and production of a delivery map covering the regional approach routes on one side, and the local estate roads on the reverse (see library).
In addition to general promotional and marketing activity, we have progressed 4 parallel sector work streams across the area:
There is a pressing need to address logistics issues to meet the capital's ongoing construction needs, as the predicted growth for London is the equivalent of putting a city the size of Leeds into the current infrastructure within the area of the M25. On a typical major construction project, as many as 100 separate deliveries may arrive on site per day. To address the traffic implications of such projects, TfL is looking for developers and contractors to work with Traffic Authorities, Boroughs and other local stakeholders to create Construction Logistics Plans , applied to scheme design and construction phases.
The objective is to review delivery arrangements for construction sites, to minimise vehicular traffic, reduce the use of lane closures and carriageway restrictions, and reduce the duration of construction works. Operated on the principle that the materials are delivered to the consolidation centre ahead of the time they are needed on the construction site, the centre then acts as a 'buffer' such that materials can be delivered to the work site on a 'just in time' basis.
Arranging deliveries in this way can increase efficiency by improving the sequencing of materials, reducing vehicle movements to site, freeing up valuable space and reducing on-site labour requirements for each of the sites that are served by the centre. The FQP is therefore mapping the major construction projects anticipated across the Thames Gateway (eg the Olympics and Crossrail) in the next 5 years, to determine the potential scale of construction activity.
We are also mapping the existing supply bases for construction materials within the Thames Gateway, with emphasis on those sites with multimodal transport links (eg wharves and rail terminals), to enable bulk materials to be moved in large volumes by alternatives modes as close to the final point of consumption as possible.
These existing sites may also be capable of enhancement to act as consolidation centres for a range of building materials and pre-assembled modules, and we are reviewing the experience of the London Construction Consolidation Centre at Bermondsey and BAA's Colnbrook Logistics Centre, to see what lessons can be applied to the next generation of sites.
Residential and business areas require constant servicing, whether replenishing supermarket shelves, delivering post and parcels or online shopping, servicing lifts and office equipment, or waste collection and disposal. Keeping the local area supplied and serviced generates a vast range of vehicle movements every day – in the main, by lorries and vans.
Making deliveries to business and residential areas can create conflicts with other road users, pedestrians and communities and TfL’s London Freight Plan seeks to reduce such conflicts as far as possible. TfL wishes to see greater co-ordination between Boroughs and business in this area, towards creating Delivery & Servicing Plans to minimise the operational impacts of delivery and servicing of premises, reducing congestion and emissions and improving safety.
The FQP is therefore conducting research to identify means to further reduce the conflicts between retail deliveries and other road users, drawing on pilot studies undertaken by our colleagues at the South London FQP. We are surveying the major retail areas within the Thames Gateway to determine the existing delivery networks and how these might be further improved, for example by consolidating deliveries, using alternative modes of transport for longer-distance deliveries to and from the local area, alternative fuels for local delivery vehicles, and making more deliveries outside of the peak periods.
In parallel, we are reviewing trends in home shopping to see how delivery networks can be improved to contain growth in 'white van' traffic in residential areas, and to enable deliveries to be made more convenient for working households, through use of measures such as 'drop boxes' and local neighbourhood collection facilities.
3. Interchanges and Lorry Parks
In moving towards a 'low-carbon economy', more use should be made of alternative modes of transport (e.g. water and rail) for moving freight. However, it is inevitable that road haulage will be needed at some stage to make the initial collection and/or the final delivery. Facilities therefore need to be provided where goods can interchange between modes in the course of their journey, as much as commuters do between the car, the train and the bus or underground.
The development of new or enhanced freight interchange facilities can generate a range of planning, transportation and environmental issues in the local hinterland around an interchange, which may hinder the development of such facilities and, in turn, the growth in use of alternative modes.
A similar challenge exists for the provision of lorry parking where drivers and their vehicles can park in 'recognised' safe and secure locations, particularly overnight. We are therefore investigating both these issues in one workstream, mapping out existing facilities (including official and unofficial lorry parking sites) and determining demand for these in the medium to long term, to determine the extent to which additional provision might be required.
We will be considering scope to use interchanges as the catalyst for a network of new multimodal transport services, with a focus on the River Thames, as well as other local river and canal navigations and the capital's extensive rail network. In some cases, there may be scope to co-locate interchanges and lorry parking as complementary activities in peripheral areas.
Best practice: Rather than reinvent the wheel, we are looking to collate the wealth of best practice and other research in the freight sector, such that this can then be made available to the FQP membership, other FQPs and stakeholders.
We are at present undertaking a review of best practice initiatives in sustainable distribution, drawing on work of existing FQPs in UK, DfT Freight Best Practice, Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, other trade associations and study groups across Europe. This information is being collated into a number of core themes, which will then be added to the online library through a series of FQP Resource Sheets.
4. Future Projects
Our work will evolve over time in response to changing issues and priorities. If you would like to suggest ideas for future research by the FQP, please get in touch via the contact page.
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