Definitions

Industrial park

Industrial park

An industrial estate is an area of land set aside for industrial development. Industrial parks are usually located close to transport facilities, especially where more than one transport modalities coincide: highways, railroads, airports, and navigable rivers. A more "lightweight" version is the business park or office park, which has offices and light industry, rather than heavy industry.

This idea of setting land aside through this type of zoning is based on several concepts:

  • To be able to concentrate dedicated infrastructure in a delimited area to reduce the per-business expense of that infrastructure. Such infrastructure includes roadways, railroad sidings, ports, high-power electric supplies (often including three-phase power), high-end communications cables, large-volume water supplies, and high-volume gas lines.
  • To be able to attract new business by providing an integrated infrastructure in one location.
  • To set aside industrial uses from urban areas to try to reduce the environmental and social impact of the industrial uses.
  • To provide for localized environmental controls that are specific to the needs of an industrial area.

Different industrial parks fulfill these criteria to differing degrees. Many small communities have established industrial parks with only access to a nearby highway, and with only the basic utilities and roadways, and with few or no special environmental safeguards.

During the 1970s to 1990s, there was a glut of industrial park development in the United States, resulting today in vast areas of industrial parks that sit idle and unsuited to other uses. This trend has been criticized as being a sort of "cargo cult", from the wildly optimistic speculation that, if it was built, "they" would come. According to David Brooks, one consequence of office parks in the United States is that large numbers of people living in exurbs no longer have contact with urban life.

Industrial parks have also been criticized because of their frequent remoteness of urban areas, one of the characteristics that has been touted as a benefit. One reason for this specific criticism is that industrial parks often destroy productive and valuable agricultural land. Another is that the industrial parks become remote to their employee pool, necessitating longer commutes and limiting employment accessibility for poorer employees. Another reason is that many urban areas have extensive areas of brownfield land that many feel should be the first priority in redeveloping as industrial sites.

In the UK small industrial parks containing multiple units all of the same style are known as trading estates.

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