A shed the size of a town: what Britain’s giant distribution centres tell us about modern life (T
These boxes are of such importance that some are classed as “nationally significant infrastructure projects”, which means that national government rather than local authorities give them planning permission.
But, in a country where land is as constrained as in Britain, where it is a struggle to find space for other such essentials as new housing, the growth of big sheds is particularly hard to accommodate.
If it is a fast-moving business, wherein a building 10 times the volume of St Paul’s Cathedral might go up in six months, it might take a decade to assemble a site out of former farmland, and win planning permission for it.
In Lutterworth there is a campaign group called Magna Park Is Big Enough, which in January persuaded the local council to refuse, by a margin of two votes, a planned expansion.
There is, therefore, a motivation to “innovate in a mindful and respectful way”.
A “new breed of superstructures trying very hard to disappear”. Off the M5, for example, near Bridgwater in Somerset, a huge Morrisons distribution centre is clad in long horizontal strips of varying shades of green.
Their scale and growth are a consequence of the fact that all that physicality and volume that the virtual world displaces has to go somewhere.