Urban Regeneration of London Docklands - A sustainable success?

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Urban Regeneration of London Docklands – A sustainable success?

During the late 18th century and early 19th century the London Docklands were a very important industrial centre and the busiest port in the world. Right into the early part of the 20th century, the docks provided employment for thousands of dockers. Trade was focused around maritime activities, for example shipbuilding and the import of goods, such as tobacco and sugar, stored in large warehouses encircling the docks. Traffic through the Royal Docks reached its peak in the 1950s and early 1960s.

However after a turn of technological improvements, the docks became abandoned and derelict. The first change, in the 1950’s, was an increase in the size of ships. The ships were so big that trade had to be moved down river to Tilbury docks, which was next to the sea and not crowded by poor roads and a large city. Unemployment, few amenities and poor living conditions followed this in 1970.  Other changes included a rise in air travel, competition from other ports and the need for more space. All these factors resulted in the closure of the London Docklands in 1981creating an area of derelict and unused space.

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The conditions for the locals in 1981 were very poor, there were a lot of high density housing – cheap, but small and old fashioned. Over half of the Docklands was derelict, vacant or under-used with empty factories and other buildings. There was virtually no open space and only a few small shops and leisure facilities. Transport was poorly developed and the narrow roads were congested with lorries. The unemployment rate was 17.8% and the population of the Docklands had fallen by 20%. Something needed to change, so in July 1981 the London Docklands Development Corporation was set up to improve ...

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