A couple of months ago we were approached by a photographer, Carmel King, who asked us if we would like to be part of a study on the use of Industrial places in the City. This study, led by a team from the London Metropolitan University, focused on a mapped audit of the industrial economy across Southwark, as well as drawing attention to the threat of expulsion that a high proportion of industrial businesses face thanks to a combination of planning policies and developers' actions.
Carmel wanted to shoot our workshop space, illustrating an example of the diversity and strength of this sector of Southwark's economy. This inspired us to do some research on the topic, which led us to multiple interesting discussions and, eventually, this blog post.
Industrial areas in london
99.8% of London’s businesses and nearly half of the capital’s jobs come from the over 800,000 small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) that fill the city. These businesses hold the potential for much of London’s future innovation and growth, generating approximately £430 billion of turnover.
Industrial areas factor in this data by accommodating a wide range of economic sectors directly linked to London’s growth. From food preparation, printing, construction, distribution, waste and recycling, and other utilities that persist in the city for sustainable and efficient operation reasons.
Not only that, this variety offers the type of jobs that make this city so rich in skillsets.
As you move outside of the central area, 18% of London’s jobs operate in industrial areas (corresponding to 556,000 jobs in 34,720 businesses, around 11% of London’s total).
The growth of the creative industries sector in the city also impacts the use of these spaces, requiring work spaces where products can be customised locally and distributed within the city at a fast pace.
However commercial uses, particularly in industrial areas, have faced redevelopment pressure in the last decades. The London Plan sets a benchmark for the net release of approximately 37 hectares of surplus industrial land per annum, with fairly strong policy protections, but monitoring shows the average loss was 83 hectares per annum between 2006 and 2011.
So, even though the symbiosis between the industrial and creative spaces of London and Southwark's can strengthen its economy, it is also being threatened with expulsion of a high proportion of industrial businesses due to a combination of planning policies and developers' actions.
Making the most of our industrial space
Our Workshop and Showroom are based in the Industrial Estate of East Dulwich.
Before we set our company here, this space saw multiple businesses from bakeries to all sorts of crafts. Today, there is a huge diversity of businesses- from joinery to books or even costume design - but even with this variety, the most interesting factor of this Estate is that its original industrial architecture and history has preserveered.
When we took over, we had to adapt the original structure including new rewiring and heating installation, but there were not a lot of physical changes needed to make room for our workshop. The high-ceilings, open spaces and division between internal areas allowed us to bring in the needed machinery to produce our designs in house. It also allowed us to create areas of work for different stages of labour, fulfilling all our technical needs.