Milton Keynes is one of the UK’s fastest growing cities. Home to over 14,000 business units and with a population of 267,000, Milton Keynes is showing no signs of slowing down its growth. By 2050 Milton Keynes is expected to have a population of over 500,000 making it a city larger than Liverpool, Cardiff or Edinburgh.
The recent adoption of the new Local Plan for Milton Keynes has ambitions to deliver a minimum 26,500 net dwellings between 2016 and 2031. The National Infrastructure Commission reported an opportunity to deliver one million new homes and jobs across the Oxford to Cambridge Arc by 2050.
Logistics in Milton Keynes
Milton Keynes is home to one of the UK’s most significant concentrations of logistics and distribution companies, and a key location within the UK’s primary ‘Central England’ logistics hub. This is due to Milton Keynes’ location at the nexus of Oxford, Cambridge, London and Birmingham.
Milton Keynes is strategically positioned on the M1 motorway, at the south eastern periphery of England’s central logistics hub. This optimal location provides logistics and distribution businesses with unrivalled access to the UK national market, the high-income ‘London and South East England’ market, and continental Europe via the Channel tunnel and south coast ports.
But in Milton Keynes, these location advantages are combined with potentially massive property cost savings versus South East England, and a unique, council-controlled portfolio of available, development-ready logistics and distribution sites. And Milton Keynes Council will be sharing exclusive insight into these pockets of available land and development opportunities they present at the Sheds & Logistics Development Conference next week.
Milton Keynes can provide the people logistics businesses need, too. The city offers a large-scale logistics workforce at highly competitive wage rates, world-leading logistics and supply chain knowledge, and the education infrastructure required to deliver specialist, logistics-focused vocational skills and qualifications.
Milton Keynes’ established logistics and distribution cluster means that businesses can access a large-scale, specialist sector workforce.
6% of the city’s total labour force works in the warehouse, logistics and distribution sector – that’s a significantly higher percentage than other Central and South East England logistics locations (except Heathrow).
Milton Keynes provides logistics and distribution businesses with a cost-competitive workforce. While the city is optimally located to serve the South East England market, average wages in Milton Keynes are just 4% higher than the UK average, and lower than in nearly all London periphery/M25 logistics locations.
As a leading business centre, Milton Keynes benefits from a large, high-quality managerial, IT and technical workforce. Milton Keynes’ location within the UK’s leading logistics hub ensures high level of managerial, commercial and technical expertise specifically relating to the logistics and distribution sector.
Milton Keynes sits within the heart of the Oxford to Cambridge Arc.
The South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) Local Industrial Strategy sets out ambitions for the region to build upon its current specialisms in L&D and large scale workforce to become more productive. By developing automation and innovation, the Logistics and Distribution Sector has the potential to boost productivity by utilising predictive analytics to better match supply with demand, aligning operations for greater customisation and using the latest technologies for last mile delivery.
In the Local Industrial Strategy “Supply Chain 4.0 South East Midlands Hub of Excellence” is proposed. Cranfield University, in conjunction with SEMLEP, John Lewis, Transport Systems Catapult, Millbrook Proving Ground, Network Rail and FiveAI, has applied to the UKRI Strength in Places Fund for money to develop a Hub of Excellence for the logistics sector. This hub would offer companies – including SMEs – in the region knowledge, expertise, and a test bed for new ideas to improve their supply chain processes and operations by introducing automation in logistics and supply chain activities, using predictive analytics to better match supply with demand, aligning operations to cope with batch-size one (high degree of customisation) and utilising the latest technologies for last mile delivery such as drones, autonomous vehicles, and robots.
Both SEMLEP and Milton Keynes are both working with logistics businesses to secure a supply of higher skills for the sector. The planned new University for Milton Keynes, MK:U will be a new model university for Milton Keynes, developing graduates with skills in Artificial Intelligence, Data Science and Cyber Security, as all industries are in the process of being revolutionised by Digital Technology. The Logistics and Distribution Sector in Milton Keynes and across the SEMLEP region is in prime position to take advantage of new higher skilled graduates and research and development projects.
There is no denying the role that technology has to play in the future of logistics and distribution, as people continue to utilise e-commerce platforms to purchase goods, and with the planned housing growth in Milton Keynes and across the Oxford-Cambridge Arc. The Logistics and Distribution Sector in Milton Keynes is perfectly placed to offer employment opportunities and serve the growing high income ‘London and the South East Market.’