7.5 Last mile deliveries

Changing patterns of retailing with greater use of e-commerce means that consumers (businesses and residents) increasingly expect products to be delivered to their door. Cambridge has been a pioneer in cycle deliveries with a consolidation centre at the edge of the city that transfers parcels on to smaller cycle-logistic bikes. North East Cambridge provides an opportunity to develop at least one consolidation hub that would enable smaller electric vehicles and cycles to serve the development. This policy sets out where we expect delivery hubs to be located and what they should provide.

  • You supported innovative measures such as a centralised consolidation hub to service businesses, retail deliveries and help reduce demand on the highway network and lessen environmental impacts. You suggested this could also serve the wider city.
  • You asked us to consider cycling logistic firms using cargo cycles to make last-mile deliveries.
  • You asked us to provide flexibility to future proof for technological advances and growth of online shopping.
  • Other suggestions included a rail freight terminal accessed on an extended Cowley Road and a trans-shipment hub close to the A14.

How your comments and options have been taken into account

  • In line with your comments, the proposed policy anticipates at least one consolidation hub to which deliveries will be made and sorted ready for onwards delivery.
  • Last mile deliveries will be encouraged by cycle logistics firms using cargo cycle and/or electric vehicles for bulkier items.
  • This will enable consolidation into fewer delivery trips serving destinations within the area, reduce the overall number of vehicles within the new city district and reduce environmental impacts, improve place making and public safety.
  • Reflecting the comments received, this policy is flexible and futureproofed for changing technological solutions.

Policy 20: Last mile deliveries

A hub has been identified within Cambridge Science Park Local Centre, as set out in Policy 10c. An additional hub could be located close to Milton Road where it can be accessed directly from the primary street to reduce vehicle movements within the Area Action Plan area.

The Councils expect development proposals within these locations to make provision for a delivery hub of up to 1,500m2 to enable the consolidation of deliveries to service the needs of local businesses, retailers, community uses and residents.

Onwards 'last-mile' delivery will be provided by sustainable modes, including by cycle logistics solutions using cycles / cargo cycles and for bulkier items using electric vehicles.

Innovative and flexible solutions are encouraged, including utilising measures such as digital and online infrastructure to better manage supply and demand, dynamic management of the kerb for deliveries of goods, and future proofing for technological improvements which may include use of drones and autonomous delivery vehicles.

Relevant Objectives: 1, 2, 4

To meet the demand for fast deliveries of good and services, the movement of freight is typically performed by a large number of delivery companies which inefficiently duplicate each other's journeys with partially filled trucks and vans. This results in unnecessarily high levels of congestion, safety issues, pollution and environmental impacts, and rising distribution costs.

With the existing capacity constraints on the highway network in and around North East Cambridge and no opportunity to increase this in future, the additional pressure from services and deliveries needs to be addressed in a comprehensive and coordinated way. Unconstrained deliveries direct to business premises and properties is, with the growth in e-commerce, likely to generate many trips and exceed the trip budget (Policy 22: Managing motorised vehicles) and available highway capacity causing unacceptable levels of congestion and air pollution. In addition, there would be limited control over the types of vehicles, such as diesel trucks and vans, used to make the deliveries and the resultant environmental impacts. Numerous vehicles pulling up at the kerb to make deliveries could also impact on the public realm, public safety (conflict with pedestrians and cyclists) and the quality of life of people living and working in the area. However, it may be possible, in this scenario, to introduce some controls to constrain deliveries to certain times of the day by 'managing the kerb'.

In addition to reducing the number of delivery trips, use of a consolidation hub provides environmental benefits in excess of those achieved by converting the existing vehicle fleet to zero emissions. The ability to replace multiple deliveries into a single delivery can improve the customer experience, save money and time. Coupled with vehicular access restrictions (see Policy 21: Street hierarchy), reducing the number of vehicles, and switching trips to more sustainable modes, will improve the safety of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists, help re-enforce the people first approach (Policy 16: Sustainable Connectivity) and improve the quality of life for the new community.

The Councils have identified preferred locations for a delivery/consolidation hub and expect development proposals coming forward in these areas to make appropriate provision. Consideration should be given to co-locating the hub with other active uses, such as shops and other services and facilities, to enable residents to make multi-purpose trips if they collect their purchases from the hub in person.

The onwards 'last-mile' delivery should be undertaken by sustainable modes, including by cycle logistics solutions using cycles / cargo cycles (including electric cycles). For bulkier items it may be necessary to use larger sustainable vehicles; such as electric bikes.

Innovative solutions and technology should also be considered to further reduce the number of delivery trips and manage onwards 'last-mile' deliveries; Cambridge has seen the first drone delivery by Amazon and companies are beginning to look at autonomous delivery of small items (with trials being undertaken in Milton Keynes). Technology can also assist with managing supply and demand. For example, allowing the consumer to select a delivery window to suit their availability and reduce the number of abortive trips. Technology can also be used to manage the kerb for deliveries by vehicles, by controlling times of day that deliveries can be undertaken and/or the dwell time. Additionally, it may be possible to allow packaging to be returned for recycling, providing an accessible centralised place for refuse vehicles to collect from.

  • Number of delivery hubs provided
  • Mode share of delivery trips
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