Distribution hotspots are likely to pop up across the Midlands in the wake of new rules limiting the number of hours that HGV drivers can spend behind the wheel.
The new working time directive will also have a major impact on the design of current and future warehouses, according to new research carried out by property consultancy NAI Fuller Peiser and the Freight Transport Association.
More than 30 per cent of businesses operating across the region believe the new regulations, limiting the number of hours a HGV driver can work in a week, will draw distribution centres closer to urban areas.
Almost half think it will create a series of distribution hotspots where there is land and labour on the doorstep together with good motorway access.
Paul Rixon, partner at NAI Fuller Peiser in Birmingham, says the prime hotspots are likely to arise in the Birmingham conurbation where there are existing parks on the fringes of the city - places such as Hams Hall and Midpoint Park.
His list also includes Wednesbury and Walsall in the Black Country, along the M5 and M6 corridors, Redditch and Coventry, and Fradley Park, Staffordshire.
"The current trend is for distribution centres to get larger but the survey indicates a possible trend towards smaller centres close to urban areas so that drivers can make their deliveries and return to the warehouse within a single shift," says Mr Rixon. "The East Midlands may see more large distribution centres developed while the West Midlands will probably have a series of smaller ones."
Other effects of the new directive on property occupied by distribution companies include a major impact on the design of current and future warehouses.
It is predicted that the proportion of yard space, material handling equipment, loading bays and doors will all have to be increased, as Mr Rixon explains.
"Firms that can improve the efficiency with which goods are picked and loaded will ensure its fleet spends more of its shift in transit and less time waiting around at warehouses," says Mr Rixon.