London Docklands - Has the regeneration been a success or a failure?

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London Docklands. Has the regeneration been a success or a failure?

The docklands cover 22 square km from London Bridge to Beckton. There are four main areas, which are, Wapping and Limehouse, Surrey Docks, Isle of Dogs and Royal Docks.

The area has gone under a load of projects on order to improve the area. These projects consist of the Docklands Light Railway, London City Airport, Transport and redevelopment of the old factories and housing.

In order to improve access to the area the Light Railway was opened in 1987 at a cost of £77 million. The train is unmanned and programmed by a computer to stop at the certain locations. It connects the Isle of Dogs to the main rail and the underground network and the city itself. Future plans are already being made to extend the route eastwards to the Royal Docks. The London City airport gave a further boost to the docklands that was previously a Short Take Off and Landing airport. This has been developed on the quay between the Royal Docks at Beckton. Brymon Airways and London City Airways offer scheduled flights to domestic and European destinations within a 600km radius of London.

Along with the Light Railway and the airport other transport schemes have been established, the network of red brick roads in the EZ, is linking the Isle of Dogs to the city. The docklands highway is one of the newest schemes and includes the Limehouse link, a cut and cover road. In 1988 a high-speed river bus service was introduced to serve commuter and tourist attraction. However this has brought about its disadvantages, as the capacities of the existing schemes are unlikely to meet the passenger demands created by new developments such as, Canary Wharf. Along with the problems of escalating costs, for instance the Limehouse Link has rose from £85 to £140 million even before the work had started. Due to the need of new roads many council houses are being demolished. There has been too much emphasis on road developments rather at the expense of public transport.

Housing has gone under some huge building schemes in which have been promoted by the LDDC, mainly at Beckton, Wapping, Surrey Docks and the Isle of Dogs. In 1988 nearly 9000 new houses had been built and work had started on over 15,000 more homes, and a further 8000 are planned. River frontages are popular locations for the new homes and seem to have been targeted by the purchasers new to the area. The development of the Royal Docks promises 1500 'social homes' in which 25% of the new jobs to be made available to local residents and provision of social facilities. The Tower Hamlets Council has made a deal with the LDDC that the council tenants after being homeless due to the Limehouse Link that they should be re-housed. Another deal was that 2000 Canary Wharf jobs and £2.5 million towards training for local people. There have been complications with the new housing. Over 80% are private sale, mostly being to expensive for the local people and in Newham a small 4% of new private sales are to the locals. The rising prices are of no help with some penthouse flats reaching £1 million. Over two-thirds of the land given to the LDDC in 1981 has been earmarked for local authority housing. There seems to be an inadequate concern for the needs of the locals rather than the new 'Yuppies'.

Since 1981 the population of the Docklands has been growing and is expected to rise throughout the 1990s, which had brought about the concern for new roads and transport schemes along with the new housing. However this could have been seen the other way round with the housing and new transport attracting the new population in which tends to be the upwardly mobile and professional population. This has been aided by the growth of the business sector like Canary Wharf. Friction has therefore been created between the old and new population and in which it is still growing.

Employment had been a problem for the locals since the major docks closed down, and with the slogans 'why move to the middle of nowhere when you can move to the middle of London' has attracted people from outside the city. Between 1981 and 1987, 8000 new jobs have been created to the Docklands, a rise of 34&. By 1991 a further 25,000 jobs were expected. The jobs were in three sectors, finance and business services; distribution, hotels and catering; printing and publishing. However even though they have provided 8000 new jobs, 5000 have been transferred form elsewhere, an example is the firms are bringing in their own employees. Only 3000 jobs are new and didn't exist before. Another problem is that the jobs do not match the work skills of the locals and only 13% of the incoming firms are locals. 13,000 jobs were lost from the traditional sectors since 1981 and in 1988 52,000 residents were unemployed.

The local councils have attracted approximately £440 million in grants since 1981. This has allowed the LDDC to offer an array of subsidies and incentives to developers, including cheap land and prepared sites. Problems have been caused due to the money going to the LDDC such as, local councils have had their resources cut back by rate capping and capital spending controls. The LDDC have faced criticism from local boroughs, community groups and organizations like the Docklands Community Council for its lack of democracy, local consultation and communication.

If the London Dockland rejuvenation was a success or failure is remains to be seen. The Docklands has been described as a test bed of government policy but the position of the Docklands being next to the city of London it is hard to see it being repeated. After this rejuvenation of the Docklands has left two environments that exist side bi side, one luxurious for wealthy incomers and the other unfounded estates, parks and community facilities where the locals live. If the two will ever merge it is something we will have to wait and see. I believe however that the rejuvenation has had it successes as before there was nothing going for the area at all. 

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However the LDDC (London Docklands Development Corporation) was set up 1982 by the government to revitalize the economy of the docklands to do this they planned to modernise the existing buildings there by building offices and flats they started furthest upstream at the Tobacco dock and at St Katherine's dock they where both developed the tobacco docks where turned into shopping area and St Katherine's dock was developed as a tourist area, despite the regeneration of these docks they did not attract they many people ...

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