London Docklands”Evaluate the success of the economic,social and physical regeneration of The London Docklands. “In Medieval times development occurredon the Thames, where Romans had once settled. Growth of shipbuilding industryled to the development of this area. The London Docks were built between1700 and 1921.
The reason was to ease congestion on the Thames betweenships, and the lock gates helped to control the water level in the river. Security was also improved within the docks because of the high walls aroundthe dock basins. The Eastend of London developed around the Docks. At thedocks hay day London was at the centre of world trade.
However in 1967 the docks started to decline,a number of reasons were to cause the downfall to one of the worlds greatesttrading ports. The docks were not designed for the size of the more modernships, not been wide enough or deep enough to allow the ships in. The newercontainer ships could not be catered for in the docks. This meant thatcompetition was starting to arise form other ports around the British Isles,mainly Tilbury and Antwerp. These newer ports offered a facility to handlecontainers, with the efficiency of a roll on/roll off system. With thecompetition a problem, the London Docks now had to battle through the declineof traditional trade that was associated with Europe and the docks.
Addingto the problems, traditional industries in Britain were declining all thetime. The docks in effect were been suffocated from of trade. After yearsof decline, the docks became too expensive to run, with the lack of tradeand inefficiency of loading and unloading. By 1981, all the docks alongthe Thames were closed, with the exception of the new Tilbury dock.
Asthe area gradually started to run down, the local authorities and governmentrealised that some kind of redevelopment had to take place. Regeneration of the area had begun in placessince the end of the war in 1946, due to the extensive bomb damage thearea had suffered. Other projects also went ahead before the docks totallyclosed. The “Greater London Development Plan” and “Inner Urban Area Act”were carried out in the 60’s and 70’s.
However, these projects were neverdeemed a success, as the majority of the docks were still run down. Inaddition, those that were regenerated were not popular because of the misuseof materials and ideas. None of them seemed to cure the problems that theDocklands had. Derelict land in the docks was about 40%, around 6 squarekm. In the last 15 years before 1981, 150,000 jobs had been lost. The localpopulation was living on council estates that were crumbling, and had nobasic amenities.
Counter urbanisation was happening to the area, over 20%had moved out. The communication network was poor, no rail links existed,roads were few and narrow, and public transport was little. Local residentswere deprived of both leisure facilities and basics like schools and hospitals,they were not even given the chance to make a go of the area they livedin. However, a new scheme was to be set up,which was thought to be the answer to all the problems that the Docklandscontained. In 1979, a new Government came into power with different attitudesand views. They set up a non-elected corporation, which had total controlover the area.
They could use government grants to prepare land and releaseit to mainly private developers. Using public funds, they were to attractprivate funds. Enter the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC). The LDDC had four aims that they wanted to achieve in the Docklands, theywere basically to improve the economic, social and physical aspects ofthe area.
To improve the economic aspect of the areathey had to create jobs for the unemployed who were living in the Docklands,to do this they had to bring in major companies. The LDDC decided to providea good infrastructure to the area, they provided the gas, electric, androads. Transport was a main problem, so ?600 million was spent ontransport, and another ?300 million on just the Docklands Railway. The most expensive road in Europe was built at a cost of ?220, itis only one mile long and stretches from The Isle of Dogs to the City ofLondon. However, these costs have eased the congestion to the Docks. Thiswas enough to convince businesses to move to the area.
Large newspapercompanies were also attracted to the Docklands, away from Fleet Streetbecause of the new Canary Wharf building. This is one of the tallest buildingsin England, at 800ft high and boasting 50 stories. Companies like Reader’sDigest also located here. Companies were attracted to Canary Wharf becauseof the quality of it with air conditioning, deep floors, and open officespace. Building space in London was short, and expensive. Canary Wharfwas an excellent place to relocate for its cheep rent, and large offices.
With only 27,000 jobs in 1981, the estimate for today is that there arearound 175,000 jobs in the Docklands. Employment is now three times higherthan it was before the LDDC was created. Within the St Katherine Docksthe World Trade Centre was built. The Docklands, had a feeling of racialtension and despair, the LDDC had to improve the public facilities andleisure facilities to ease these problems.
Education and healthcare wererecognised as inadequate, so ?65 million was spent on renovatingthe services. To resolve the problems of poor quality living accommodationthe LDDC developed large areas of housing, both renovation and buildingfrom scratch took place. ?40 million was spent on renovating over50 existing council estates. A mix of houses were required to suite theneeds of different people, 2000 very affordable houses were erected withlow mortgages to suite the original eastender.
For the richer businesspersonluxury, flats were created from old run down warehouses. St Katherine Dockshave examples of both of these types of housing. More luxury flats canbe found in the old warehouses on the Isle of Dogs. In all the LDDC hasprovided 24,000 housing units, this will accommodate the additional 45,000people that are moving back into the area. To help the local residentsfind work in the Docklands, training centres were set up to provide training.
This helped the people to develop skills in the tertiary industry, likecomputing, which were the main source of jobs in the Docklands. Pubs, restaurants,a floating museum, a hotel with 826 rooms, and a marina were all createdin the St Katherine Docks. These were created for both people who livedin the Docklands, and for the tourists visiting the area. A dry ski slopehas been created out of an old slag-heap, within the Royal Docks, alsotheses docks are the site for a number of large shopping centres. The land use has changed in the Docklandsfrom been derelict, it has now become drastically improved. The overallphysical view of the area has improved.
100,000 trees have been plantedin the Docklands area. This has been mixed with the careful design andplacement of buildings around the Docklands. Large areas have become changedin their physical appearance for the better, like the Royal Docks. In thisarea was built the London City Airport. Short haul flights can be takento many capitals of countries within Europe. With so much money having been spent onthe redevelopment of the Docklands, protection against flooding from theThames was required.
This was found in the Thames Barrier, at only 200metres across and costing ?500 million. This barrier can controlthe height of the river, with giant gates that can be raised and lowered. The Docklands was once one of the worstrun down inner city areas in Britain. However, all this has changed asthe derelict land has become regenerated. It has turned out to be the largesturban regeneration scheme in Europe.
So can we say that the Docklands redevelopmentscheme has been an all round success?Economically the area has improved, a lotof private investment has been attracted into the area. For the ?3,900million spent on the Docklands with public money, a total of around ?8,700million has become injected into the area from private funds. This is avery good thing, as companies are realising that the Docklands has a goodfuture, and are prepared to invest heavily into the area. Another attractiveis that the infrastructure has been laid by the LDDC, all costs accountedfor. This has meant that the development of the Docklands can continuewithout the investment of public money. More jobs are been created allthe while, and people are moving back.
People are realising that the areahas a future. The economic aspect of the regeneration should be brandedas a success. With more pubs, restaurants, and serviceslocating in the area, people can see a future in the Docklands. Betterhouses have been made available, and it is a place that the public wantto live in. Urbanisation is staring to happen, and new housing blocks arequickly been filled.
A success for sure, as people are moving back intothe area realising it has more to offer. Before the LDDC took over the area lookedugly and run down, but now has been transformed. The LDDC received a totalof 43 awards for architecture and conservation. Land prices within theDocklands also suggest success, before development land was available ata relatively cheap price.
Now a one-hectare plot is worth over ?2million. In all aspects, the Docklands have beena success. From a run down inner city, it is now a city within a city. Docklands is a modern hidden community, which once was only run down land. With careful planning and consideration it has become transformed intowhat it is today. Nevertheless, as with all successes there are a few failures.
Contained on London Docks, are the warehouses of the Tobacco Dock. Thiswas redeveloped into a shopping centre, but with poor custom had to close. This was through the lack of planning, but lessons were learnt. With the Docklands having been significantlyregenerated, in 1998 the LDDC finished its work in the Docklands.
However,redevelopment continues to carry on the good work that the LDDC did.