LDDC Monograph
  Learning to Live and Work Together (March 1998)
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Getting on with Local People
The Local Councils - Antagonism and Cooperation
Training, Education and Health
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Community Lifeblood
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(Note: This Monograph has been reproduced by kind permission of the Commission for the New Towns now known as English Partnerships. It is published for general interest and research purposes only and may not be reproduced for other purposes except with the permission of English Partnerships who now hold the copyright of LDDC publications)

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For the communities of London Docklands, the closure of the upper docks between 1967 and 1981 was traumatic. Local people were faced with uncertainty and change as traditional port-related activities vanished, jobs declined and physical decay became increasingly obvious. Many families moved away.

Government, both central and local, understood the necessity for action but, for a variety of reasons, there was all too little progress. The passing years produced facts, figures, ideas and plans, which raised local expectations of better times ahead. But the prospect remained as far off as ever and the area continued to decline. Local people felt increasingly bitter, even betrayed.

Not surprisingly, the creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation in July 1981 was largely met by the Docklands communities with scepticism, suspicion, hostility and even outright opposition, not least by local, mainly Labour, politicians. They regarded the Corporation as an intrusive, non elected government body, a most unwelcome Conservative-created cuckoo in their highly traditional nest.

This monograph describes the Corporation's efforts to transform the local quality of life and to establish an increasingly positive relationship with the separate local communities and the many different groups. During the 17 years, the LDDC did much to improve education, training, health facilities and the physical environment, which, as time passed, has undoubtedly brought benefits to the original inhabitants, helped change the largely negative outlook and created greater optimism as the area and the enlarged communities look to the Millennium and beyond.

Judy Hillman
March 1998

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People make a place. They build, live, work and play there and imbue the buildings, streets, nooks and crannies with their spirit. Places and events also make people. The people and communities of London Docklands historically have endured times both mean and great - the excitement of tall ships arriving from unknown corners of the world, depression and grinding poverty in pre-war years, the worst Second World War bombing of any British civilian target, industrial contraction, dock strikes, the closures of the docks from 1967 and finally stagnant dereliction.

GraffitiAfter years of proposals, plans and very little action, the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) was established by Government in 1981 to achieve the area's physical, economic and social regeneration. To begin with the Corporation concentrated its energy and resources on the basic tasks of land reclamation, the installation of access roads and services, persuading private investors and developers to build new homes, offices and workshops in the area and making the case for the new Docklands Light Railway (DLR). Such an approach was a total break with the past, in which the local councils and the Greater London Council (GLC) had sought to tackle housing and unemployment problems with the construction of further public housing and by seeking manufacturing jobs. Even if there had been finance for large-scale public housebuilding, social housing en masse would have done little to raise the economic profile of the area. In addition, traditional manufacturing companies had for years been going out of business or choosing to move to green field sites.

The LDDC's new approach at times did not make for comfortable relations with the local communities. Nor did the Government's emphasis on Docklands' metropolitan, regional and national role as Londoners tend to see their individual neighbourhoods as home towns or villages not serving the city at large.

To the inward looking, somewhat parochial, communities, the LDDC arrived on the scene almost as a foreign colonial administration, dispatched by central Government to transform a dying area into a normal vital part of the capital city. While the Corporation could reclaim and sell land and provide the necessary new infrastructure, day-to-day responsibility for services which directly affected local people including housing, education, health and social services, remained the statutory responsibility of the local authorities and other agencies.

The regeneration of Docklands, with a substantial new business community and twice the original population, was carried out in the early days in the face of strong local opposition and continuing criticism from politically active and articulate local groups. But perhaps this was inevitable. People were resentful at, and depressed by, the loss of their historic industry and livelihood and weary of unfulfilled promises of new housing and jobs.

In the early 1980s, the LDDC played a minimal community role, expecting that the existing residents would benefit from an improved physical environment and healthier economy while other needs would be looked after by the local councils and other responsible bodies.

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However, the local councils, fiercely opposed to the LDDC, tended to concentrate their efforts outside Docklands, which after all housed only 7% of the population of the three boroughs on one quarter of the land. But standards were so poor in education, housing, open space and community facilities that, when the LDDC met with success in attracting the construction of new houses for sale and new offices, particularly the beacon of Canary Wharf, the contrast was highlighted. Although many of the original 39,400 inhabitants did buy affordable new homes and found new jobs, many more could not and did not.

As cracks between new and old, rich and poor, private homes and council estates, well-paid working commuters and unemployed and unemployable became increasingly obvious, community groups made their case for a share in the better life in the media and Parliament. Other activists, possibly more interested in the national political struggle and the defeat of Margaret Thatcher, then Prime Minister, also campaigned with reports, demonstrations and well-placed parliamentary questions.

However, awareness of the problems was shifting policy inside Government and the LDDC, even before the all-party House of Commons Employment Select and the Public Accounts Committees probed Urban Development Corporations (UDCs) and published strong recommendations for change in 1988 and 1989. One year earlier, in 1987, the Conservatives were elected to a third term of office. In Docklands, this victory confirmed the LDDC's continuing existence and began to clear the air in its dealings with the local councils, which now increasingly sought to win the maximum investment for their communities in return for co-operation.

In 1987 the LDDC's Corporate Plan emphasised: "Education, training, community health care, community facilities and recreation are the principal activities for which corporate programmes need to be more reliable and effective. In doing so, the Corporation needs to act as an initiator, enabler and in the last resort as a provider, drawing together the resources that are available from other public bodies, the voluntary sector and private sector. The Corporation is pleased and proud to be in the position that the proceeds from its success in the marketing of land in Docklands are now becoming available to help support such schemes and is accordingly reviewing its social and community activities. "

That year, the LDDC and Newham also signed the Memorandum of Agreement, under which the Council gave its support for large scale development and infrastructure proposals for the Royal Docks and the LDDC agreed to help fund an extensive training and community programme.

A deal was agreed with Tower Hamlet, in 1988, and formally signed in 1989, for mutually agreed social, economic and community regeneration projects in exchange for co-operation over the Limehouse Link and other Corporation highway schemes in the borough.

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However, it was the publication of the House of Commons Select Committee Report an the employment effects of UDCs, under the chairmanship of Ron Leighton, a Newham MP, which brought the need for a change of heart to the top of the political agenda.

"It is not good for the health of a community for the original inhabitants of an area to see others benefiting, as they see it, at their expense while they suffer from increased road traffic congestion, higher house prices and associated ills. Nor is it just," the report stated. "UDCs cannot be regarded as a success if buildings and land are regenerated but the local community are bypassed and do not benefit from regeneration."

UDCs, it recommended, should give priority to good relations with local authorities and local communities.

Nicholas Ridley, then Secretary of State for the Environment, was convinced. By the end of the year, the LDDC had appointed a new high-profile Director of Community Services, Elizabeth Filkin, in charge of improving local authority and community relations backed by a three year 100 million budget to spend on housing, health, education and training. This investment in projects, which contributed to long-term community regeneration, at last created the basis of constructive working relationships between the LDDC and the local authorities.

The community team grew to nearly 50 people with a programme of education and training projects, health centre provision and social service ambitions. In 1989, the property boom, which had created the financial leeway for this major community programme, however collapsed almost overnight, as did the income from selling land. Corporation resources were already stretched, in part because of forecasts of the costs of building the Limehouse Link and other highway schemes. In addition there was concern in Whitehall that the LDDC was increasingly behaving like a local authority, even launching into drugs education and ethnic minorities programmes.

In 1990, funding and the Corporation's remit were reined in. The LDDC was required to concentrate on those community projects which related to the Newham Memorandum of Agreement and the Tower Hamlets Accord, along with those which directly contributed to strategic regeneration, could make a real difference to the future and were outside the responsibility of other bodies.

Although the emphasis shifted, work undertaken in the 1990s saw major changes in community amenities with the refurbishment of nearly 8,000 homes on older council estates, the construction of new social housing in substantial numbers, the construction of new and improved health and community centres, the opening of major further education facilities in Tower Hamlets and Newham, plans for a new university campus in the Royal Docks and the introduction of a number of programmes, including computers into schools, to help local children take better advantage of the more skilled job opportunities increasingly on offer.

The visible changes and the altered atmosphere did not mean that the LDDC enjoyed constant praise instead of blame, However, by 1998, among most critics, there was at least grudging acceptance, even respect, if not for the process, at least for the outcome.

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Getting on with Local People

Although the eight and a half square miles designated as London Docklands shared a common history and purpose and, by 1981, the same deprivation, dereliction and need, the communities bordering the Thames had little in common or little contact, one with each other. In reality, Bermondsey Riverside and Rotherhithe in Southwark, Wapping, Limehouse, Poplar and the Isle of Dogs in Tower Hamlets and Silvertown, North Woolwich and Beckton in Newham were all separate. In addition, because of the lack of public transport links and the former focus of a single major local industry - the port - they were isolated from normal London life.

The population had been shrinking fast as individuals and families left the East End to find a better future. In the 20 years up to 1981, there had been a net loss of about 100,000 people from Southwark, 60,000 from Tower Hamlets and 55,000 from Newham. When the LDDC was set up, the designated Urban Development Area (UDA) had a population of just 39,400 about 9,300 in Southwark, 9,700 in Newham and 20,700 in Tower Hamlets. These people, living in the nine communities, formed only a small segment of the populations of the three boroughs as a whole - some 212 000 in Southwark, 209,500 in Newham and 143,000 in Tower Hamlets.

Hermitage Basin 1980Within Docklands, 95% lived in rented, mostly council, housing. Nearly two-thirds of the 14,700 households had no car. The proportion of semi skilled and unskilled workers was much higher than the rest of London - 36% compared with 11 % in the capital as a whole. The reverse was the case with respect to people with professional and similar qualifications. Male unemployment was estimated at more than 20% following a loss of some 8,500 jobs in the five years, leading up to 1981. The local authorities' housing allocation policies, including those of the GLC, had done little for the area, with the result that a number of older blocks had degenerated into 'sink' estates. Fewer people of ethnic origins had settled in the Docklands communities than the boroughs as a whole, which contain strong concentrations of ethnic minorities, particularly Bangladeshi in Tower Hamlets, Indian and Pakistani in Newham and black Caribbean and African in both Newham and Southwark. In Newham as a whole ethnic minorities make up 42% of the population, in Tower Hamlets 36%.

There were no cinemas, only a few drab shopping parades. Community life centred in large part on the churches, community centres, pubs, of which there were a great number, and schools. The area's obvious needs for district shopping centres including entertainment, open space, playing fields and river access were highlighted in both the Travers Morgan Report of 1973 commissioned by Government and the London Docklands Strategic Plan of 1976 prepared by the Docklands Joint Committee (DJC).

From the outset, the LDDC set up its offices in the middle of the Isle of Dogs. Although that choice gave the right message in terms of on-the-spot communication and the importance of the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone - designated for 10 years on 26th April 1982 - it was not particularly accessible to the other Docklands communities or, for that matter, staff.

After nine months, the Corporation employed only 69 people whose task it was, working with consultants, to organise the acquisition, reclamation, servicing and sale of land to developers and to sell the idea of a new city on the east side of London Although the Chief Executive of the time, Reg Ward, and Deputy Chairman, Rob (later Lord) Mellish, who was the MP for Bermondsey and former labour Chief Whip, both frequently attended meetings with community representatives, attention focused in the main on the achievement of maximum change - infrastructure, perception and the attraction of private sector investment before the next General Election in 1983. In the event the Conservatives were returned to power. A labour victory would almost certainly have led to the LDDC's abolition.

The Corporation's statutory remit was to achieve the physical, economic and social regeneration of Docklands by bringing land and buildings into effective use, encouraging the development of existing and new industry and commerce, creating an attractive environment and ensuring that housing and social facilities were available to encourage people to live and work in the area. Achieving this objective was bound to disrupt the lives of residents as bulldozers, trucks, diggers and concrete mixers moved in to build the new Docklands.

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The LDDC was not a housing authority, education authority, health authority or training body and had no responsibility for social services, all of which powers remained with the local councils and other public sector organisations. Since housing and education were firmly in the control of Labour-run Councils, totally opposed to the new venture, they were unlikely to put themselves out to provide the necessary ingredients to achieve integrated regeneration. Nevertheless, given the initial low-key aspirations for development, the Corporation expected local people to benefit quickly from the arrival of supermarkets, long since normal by most Londoners' standards, a more attractive environment, even if designed to attract investment, and major improvements to public transport, which would open up the area and provide access to work opportunities across the whole of the London labour market. In addition, some people might hope at least for new local jobs and perhaps buy into the initially inexpensive housing for sale.

It was inevitable that the needs of local people could not be given a low priority for long, given a basically democratic society, British sense of fair play and the location of Docklands so near to the centre of the capital city.

The Corporation's draft business plan, prepared by Coopers & Lybrand, in 1980 had stated:

"The UDC will be operating within an urban environment, which is presently administered by strong all-purpose London boroughs. An extended use of public consultation procedures,, the deprivation; the limitations of existing programmes; the creation of the UDC itself; all these factors have prompted the creation of a network of community and protest groups. Whereas new towns expenditure on social development is largely housing oriented, and devoted to settling in new tenants, in Docklands the needs of the various communities must become an essential cornerstone of policy. The existing network must be sustained and help given to expand it. The various groups must be closely involved in implementing schemes and encouraged to become agents in the regeneration task. The skills within the groups need to be harnessed to aid the UDC. The existing financial and secretarial support to the Docklands Forum and JDAG (Joint Docklands Action Group) represents a minimum level."

For local residents, the situation was frustrating and the LDDC became for many people the organisation they loved to hate. Given the bitterly fought passage of the LDDC Area and Constitution Order through the House of Lords in 1981, community activists were unlikely to greet the new organisation as anything but the puppet of the Conservative Government, the political enemy. On the other hand, many wanted to be involved and wanted success. But their horizons tended to be parochial, not metropolitan, let alone national or international.

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The situation was complicated by the existence of hard core political activists whose motives were not specifically local and who used Docklands and the issues which arose during the course of development as useful campaign ammunition. While local community groups naturally wanted to improve their lives and benefit from, not be overwhelmed by, change, the hard left, in particular JDAG and its allies in the GLC, fought the changing economy and created an impression of total local opposition. The Docklands Forum meanwhile, a collection of local interest groups, which had been seen as the potential focus for consultation, continued to fight old battles against a Corporation which could do no right.

Yet the LDDC was doing right by some local people who found backing for small projects which directly benefited their daily lives. Within a year of its arrival, the LDDC took over responsibility for awarding grants to help voluntary organisations and set up local groups within the three boroughs to select and put forward potential candidates for cash.

It was also trying to get to grips with consultation and community relations more generally. Planning proposals did cause difficulties. In the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone, planning consent was deemed granted for schemes which satisfied certain conditions. However, many developers wanted the certainty of approval, not simply for their own proposals but those of neighbours. Since speedy handling was essential to make things happen and alter the development climate, the Corporation set a two week consultation period. With little experience of planning local people found this difficult. In 1986, the LDDC's planning committee, until then held in private, was opened to members of the public.

The LDDC tried other forms of consultation. For example, the idea of building an inner city airport on a quay between two of the Royal Docks was bound to be controversial and a MORI survey was commissioned to test people's attitudes to such an unusual form of development. Although opposition was well publicised and included the GLC, it emerged that support locally was about two to one in favour. Other surveys were undertaken elsewhere to build up information about needs, lifestyle and expectations.

The LDDC frequently held public meetings about development proposals and sometimes made changes as a result. In Shadwell Basin, Wapping, for example, a housing scheme was altered to ensure that new building did not interfere with the water's use for sailing. Similarly local concern that a proposed new road through Wapping would become a rat run was convincing and brought the scheme to a halt. When the London Borough of Southwark decided to ban all co-operation and communications with the LDDC, the Corporation set up a local liaison group of community representatives, which met monthly and made continued progress possible.

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Mudchute protest, 1986Early in 1983, the LDDC appointed its first Community Liaison Officer, John Fenner. There were about 600 organisations in Docklands and, during his first year, he attended about 1,000 meetings. The Corporation had been producing a typescript newsletter and that Spring launched "Docklands News", a monthly newspaper, which reported on developments and other news and views from the area and continued to be distributed free to every household and business within the area over the 17 years. A few months later, the Docklands Business Research and Information Centre (DOBRIC) was set up to provide advice for new and existing firms, to build up links with local educational institutions and to create a business club to bring together members of the business community.

In this early period, the LDDC became involved in the conversion of a former missionary school into a major community centre for the Barkantine Estate on the Isle of Dogs with youth club, snooker room, stage, a room for under fives and facilities for crafts, hairdressing and computer training contributing funding of 465,000. The creation of community centres came within its policy goals and this was only the first of a number of similar ventures across the whole of Docklands.

The introduction of Corporation area offices in the Surrey Docks, Royal Docks and Wapping, with facilities for local groups, led to a major improvement in community relations across Docklands. This move in 1985 greatly increased contact and reduced tension on both sides, as local people found that the organisation employed ordinary people like themselves, and members of the staff learnt of problems, aspirations and views at first hand. The teams stayed in place until 1991 when, as part of the restructuring to meet the evolving demands of the regeneration programme, they were closed down and staff brought back to the centre on the Isle of Dogs.

Following the signing of the Memorandum of Agreement with Newham, a consultative group of local people was set up in the Royal Docks with four area teams, which met monthly and then came together every three months for a joint meeting chaired by a former local councillor, Bill Dunlop. In Southwark, the LDDC went to monthly meetings of local councillors and community leaders and would answer any question provided there was prior notice. Lord Cocks, the LDDC's Deputy Chairman appointed in 1988, attended a forum twice a year. Regular meetings were also held in Wapping. No such system was established in the Isle of Dogs, in part because of the existence of two competing groups - the Association of Island Communities (AIC) and the South Poplar and Limehouse Action for Secure Housing (SPLASH).

From the early 1990s relations continued to improve with occasional hiccups including onslaughts by the Docklands Forum and, as late as 1995, the Churches Standing Committee for London Docklands. But by then the LDDC had long been actively investing in training, education, schools, housing and health and had become sufficiently confident of the balance of investment in community as well as physical and economic infrastructure to fight its corner and then shake hands. The process of dedesignation also helped the local communities to appreciate the special status and improvements conferred by being part of a development area as the LDDC progressively handed on its regeneration responsibilities, from 1994 onwards. Local organisations then had to compete for funds across their borough and even London as a whole instead of being able to turn to the alternating stepmother/fairy-godmother at the LDDC.

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The Local Councils - Antagonism and Cooperation

Relations with the three local authorities equally needed time, hard knocks, pragmatism and a greater understanding of the late twentieth century facts of economic life before rivalry settled into reasonable co-operation. Their intense opposition to the creation of the LDDC made teamwork and equanimity, if not positive friendship, difficult. Hostility was so public, political attitudes so diametrically and dramatically at odds, rhetoric and emotions so heightened, that it was impossible for local politicians not to continue with the arguments, above all about democratic accountability. What the local authorities most resented was being stripped of their development control powers and that an outside agency was being given the resources they had wanted to regenerate the area in ways they might not, and certainly to begin with, did not, like.

They did not expect the Government to change its mind and abandon the concept of a UDC in Docklands, but they did want to maximise their influence. As the 1980 House of Lords Select Committee report stated:

"If a UDC is to be a success, it is essential that it establishes and maintains good relations with the local authorities and their officers and avails itself of their advice and expertise. The Code of Consultation ... should ensure that this is so."

Beckton District ParkInitially, however, there was some co-operation. The Labour leaders of the three councils were appointed in a personal capacity to the LDDC's board of 11, which also included local labour MP Bob Mellish as Deputy Chairman. Under the Chairmanship of Nigel Broackes - the Chairman of Trafalgar House - four were then active labour politicians. Most of the other members were not overtly political and included Hugh Wilson, the former Chief Executive of the DJC, and Wyndham Thomas, the former Chief Executive of Peterborough Development Corporation and Dennis Stevenson as board member with specific responsibility for community issues. The local authorities seconded members of staff to the LDDC and others applied and were appointed to jobs. Work was also sub contracted out to the councils on a fee basis.

Theoretically these moves made it look as if the system could work harmoniously. But such optimism took no account of a national political situation which might see the abolition of the LDDC in less than two years should labour return to power. For the Corporation, there was every reason to show results across the board. For non-supporters, there was every reason to hope that what they saw as a Government imposed agency would vanish almost as quickly as it arrived and that Docklands could revert to comfortable tradition.

However, changes were taking place in London labour politics with a younger urban left wing cadre preparing to do battle with, and oust, the old guard. At the London borough elections in 1982, the rout in Southwark was almost complete. Bob Mellish, whom they had earlier tried to remove from his constituency, was no longer acceptable in the new local labour circles. The local party, as pledged in its manifesto, now refused to recognise the LDDC as a legitimate body and non-cooperation became official policy, complete with a ban on officer level contact. The agreements, which the Council had signed just before the election involving the rehousing of local tenants from the dreadful Downtown blocks in Surrey Docks and their sale for refurbishment or demolition, was declared null and void. The Leader, Cllr John O'Grady, was voted out of office, although he continued to remain a Council and LDDC Board member (until the end of 1984) and chaired the Southwark liaison group of community representatives when it was set up to provide an alternative forum with residents. Local councillors fully expected a Labour victory in the 1983 General Election and the subsequent abolition of the LDDC. They were wrong on both counts. But it took until the third Conservative General Election victory for Southwark Council to work with the LDDC to achieve as much as possible for the benefit of its local communities.

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The new left wing was not so strong in the other two boroughs but the Leader of Tower Hamlets, Cllr Paul Beasley, moved on to become Deputy Mayor in 1984 and Newham's leader, Cllr Jack Hart, retired but also retained his place on the LDDC Board. Both stayed on the board until 1986 at which point all three boroughs were refusing to accept the Environment Secretary's invitation to suggest replacements.

In 1985, the Government appointed a Camden Councillor, John Mills, as Lord Mellish's successor. Well known and respected in London and national Labour local government politics, John Mills, the new Deputy Chairman, acted as go-between initiating more open discussions with Southwark and Newham. The LDDC by then was involved in a number of training initiatives but the Government was beginning to realise that community improvement was essential to successful inner-city regeneration and could not simply be left to chance and the sticky co operation of the local councils and relevant outside public bodies. As sales of land produced a solid income stream, the LDDC started planning a community investment programme. The local authorities could see that co-operation might enable the achievement of their own goals.

In late 1985, with the leverage of additional resources and a possible profit share, the LDDC had persuaded Southwark to participate once again without recourse to law in the Downtown project. Two years later, in 1987, the LDDC and Newham signed the Memorandum of Agreement. Again two years later, it was the turn of Tower Hamlets with the Social Accord, by which time John Mills had been replaced by Lord Cocks, another Deputy Chairman with strong Labour credentials. Both were toughly negotiated deals and both promised large amounts of money for investment in agreed community and social programmes. Regardless of party politics, the LDDC and local authorities were at last working together for Docklands and the local communities.

By 1987, the LDDC needed active co-operation from the local authorities for the construction of the new roads, on which the area's future success depended. The proposed development of Canary Wharf as a major business and financial office centre on the Isle of Dogs would pitch the area's economic prospects into a totally different league. Although the DLR was under construction and had helped trigger investment beyond anyone's expectations, it could not be expected to cope with the projected workforce of up to 50,000 people at Canary Wharf alone.

In the 1987 Memorandum of Agreement with Newham, the borough agreed the LDDC's highway schemes and its development framework for the Royal Docks. In return the LDDC agreed to support the provision of social housing, the joint provision of training facilities to help local people win 25 per cent of new local jobs and a package of new facilities to serve local residents, existing and new. The Corporation was to canvas local views on proposed community projects and planning applications and gave Newham a stake in future development to help pay for services for the rising population. Other plans included encouraging contractors to use local firms for sub contracting and the provision of childcare for people on training schemes. Schemes included environmental improvements to council estates, parks and gardens, a number of school projects, the refurbishment of a library, a permanent water sports centre in the Royal Victoria Dock and premises for a riding school for disabled people. Longer-term schemes focused on health provision, emergency services, sports and leisure, a library, the arts, parks, play, better bus services and a wide range of education and social services facilities.Docklands Equestian Centre

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While the Memorandum was a political agreement, the Accord with Tower Hamlets, agreed in 1988 and signed in 1989, was a legally binding contract. Negotiated with the Liberal Democrats, who had won control from Labour in May 1986, the Accord was basically designed to smooth the planning processes and necessary land acquisition for and construction of the Limehouse Link and highways schemes in the borough, which formed an essential ingredient for the completion of Canary Wharf and other new developments planned and under construction in the area.

In return for the Council's support for the LDDC's highway schemes, the Corporation agreed to provide new housing and to assist in housing refurbishment for Council tenants to a far greater extent than the housing lost as a direct result of the road schemes. Construction of the Limehouse Link directly affected 169 homes, largely at St Vincents Estate and the Barley Mow Estate. Under the Accord, the LDDC rehoused people from an additional 296 properties and a number of families who were found to be sharing their homes. In total, 556 households were rehoused. Most of the families were offered new housing association homes, mainly on the Isle of Dogs. A number opted for refurbished Council properties.

The legal document guaranteed an investment of 35 million on agreed economic, social, education and training projects. The biggest single item was an LDDC contribution of almost 10 million towards the new Tower Hamlets College at Poplar, while at the other end of the education ladder two new primary schools were built on the Isle of Dogs and in Wapping, further schools refurbished and improved and new "Early Years Units" or nursery classrooms provided. Employment and training initiatives included the Robin Hood Training Centre in Poplar, providing a wide range of courses to suit individual trainees (325,000).

Other substantial sums went into the refurbishment of housing estates, including a 3 million project refurbishing nearly 700 homes on five estates in Limehouse and South Poplar, More than 2.5 million was spent on improvements to shopping precincts and 3.6 million on enhancing public services with new and upgraded health centres, drug education projects and schemes to help carers, the elderly and people with mental health problems. Recreation and sports facilities were improved. For example, a 320,000 multi-sports complex at George Green Secondary School on the Isle of Dogs was funded and Millwall One O'Clock Club was moved from an old tractor store into a purpose built centre with 656,000 from the Social Accord. Four community centres were built or improved, St Paul's Church on the Isle of Dogs was converted into a multi-purpose arts venue, The Space, (325,000) and 1.79 million spent on environmental improvements along Poplar High Street. A redundant Wapping Primary School, St Peter's, was given a new lease of life as a thriving community centre with 935,000 from the Accord.Millwall One O'Clock Club

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Relations with Newham tended to be most constructive, those with Tower Hamlets most rocky. In Tower Hamlets, the delegation by the Liberal Democrats, of power to local town halls, which in the Docklands area were both still under Labour control, did not make co-operation any easier. However, the Accord put relations on a more formal basis with regular meetings between Board and Council members as well as officers on special projects. Both sides could veto projects. But even in Tower Hamlets, the working climate improved when the Council began to lock forward to the Corporation handing back its responsibilities on the Isle of Dogs and taking control of the new business district including Canary Wharf.

In 1988 the LDDC appointed a new Director of Community Services, Elizabeth Filkin. In 1990 the LDDC and the boroughs finally agreed the Code of Consultation, which was required by the 1980 Act but which, although a version had been drafted by the LDDC within the prescribed year, had been rejected by the local authorities. The three councils were now to be involved in the preparation of the annual Corporate Plan and the LDDC promised it would reflect their views, provided they were compatible with its own objectives and priorities as agreed with the Department of the Environment and its Secretary of State. The Code also laid down the requirement for regular meetings with each local authority, which in Tower Hamlets and Newham concentrated on the development and management of the two special agreements.

By the end of 1991, a member from each of the three boroughs was serving on the Board for the first time since 1984. Cllr Jonathon Matthews had represented Tower Hamlets from 1987 until 1990, replaced by Cllr Janet Ludlow and then Cllr Rajan Uddin Jalal in 1994 until the Corporation completed its remit in Tower Hamlets in 1997. Newham's Deputy Leader, Cllr Conor McAuley represented the borough from 1991 until the end of March 1998 and John McTernan, Southwark, until the end of 1996 when the LDDC handed on the last of its responsibilities in the borough.

By the early 1990s it became necessary to start talking about the orderly phased handover of areas to each borough starting with Bermondsey Riverside in 1994 and Beckton in 1995.

"Relations between the LDDC and local councils are cordial, co-operation between us smooth and agreement on our joint objectives mutual, so that incoming investors are unlikely to notice the change," noted the LDDC Chairman, Sir Michael Pickard, in the LDDC's 1992/93 Annual Report and Accounts. There is no way that could have been said in the early years.

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Training, Education and Health

The Challenge

In addition to social housing, which is covered in a separate publication, training, education and health were all areas for which the LDDC had no direct responsibility but where major improvements were necessary to meet the growing needs of the population and to raise existing low standards for the indigenous Docklands communities.

The need for training was obvious. Unemployment was high. In 1981 there were 3,533 unemployed residents out of an economically active population of 19,788 (17.8%). Local people had grown up in an area which valued muscle more highly than brain. Children completed their education, as far as it went, at 16 and the younger generation, as well as the early retired, were totally unequipped for the opportunities emerging in the skilled and service sector industries moving into Docklands. Many could not easily read or write, and therefore many could not begin to take advantage of training. It was essential to change attitudes, expectations and results so that the next generation at least could play its part and share in the benefits of the new Docklands by obtaining some of the new more skilled jobs.

In 1988, school staying on rates were 25% and 26% in the boroughs of Newham and Tower Hamlets rBacons Collegeespectively and as low as 12% in Southwark. This compared with 33% in inner London as a whole. Figures for examination results in 1987 were also well below par. As recently as 1995, only 20% of pupils at one Docklands comprehensive school achieved GCSE grades of A to C compared with a national average of 40%. At that time nearly 40% of 11-year olds entering the school had major problems with reading, writing, spelling and numeracy. Yet just on three-quarters of the pupils came from an English-speaking background.

The health record was little better with perinatal mortality rates in all three boroughs above Greater London levels and death rates in Newham and Southwark also higher than the London average. Many doctors worked on their own from surgeries located in rundown premises.

Obviously the area's all-round regeneration could not be successful if education and health facilities did not match the standards set by new housing and expected by new residents. Unlike development on greenfield sites, education in Docklands was starting with a very dirty slate and most of the people who had been living in the local communities had little choice.

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Physical regeneration can be slow, frequently controversial and often subject to the hazards of the unforeseen. But given time and money, even the most awkward projects can be completed. The delivery of better services is not so easy. While it is possible to provide a new building or improved facilities, the final quality of, for example, the teaching and in turn the learning rests with people, their abilities, beliefs and aspirations.

Apart from this general challenge and its potential for levering resources, the LDDC had no overriding basis for action. Responsibility for education, training and health remained, as in other parts of the country, with the relevant local authorities and statutory organisations. These, in turn, were undergoing major changes of direction in the mid to late 1980s. The Manpower Services Commission (MSC) gave way to the wider-based Training and Education Councils (TECs). The Inner London Education Authority (ILEA), responsible for Southwark and Tower Hamlets, was abolished in 1990 and the two boroughs became independent education authorities, as had been the case already in Newham as an outer London borough. Similarly the health service underwent major reorganisation with a new focus on primary care from local doctors and dentists instead of from hospitals. Nor did it make things easier that the UDA boundaries were totally artificial. Families might well send children to schools or register at medical practices outside the officially designated area and people living outside equally might send their children to schools or choose a doctor within.

Bluegate Fields SchoolWorking with these organisations required co operation and co-ordination which did not always exist and there were departmental difficulties in Whitehall. The MSC initially, for example, saw no need for a special focus on Docklands. The ILEA did not believe the LDDC's population forecast growth figures and refused to contemplate the need for a new secondary school and therefore the allocation of land on the Isle of Dogs. Government approvals for capital expenditures on, for example, schools and health centres, were based on census derived statistics. While these "lagging indicators" - the last census was in 1981 - might be appropriate for the general UK situation where rises and falls in population levels were gradual, they were totally inappropriate in a rapidly changing area like Docklands. Over the last 17 years the population of the UDA has more than doubled from 39,400 to 83,000 and the age and class structure has also radically changed over a short period.

Training, education and health all fell outside the responsibility of the Department of Environment and other departments had different priorities, which did not focus on Docklands. Eventually an inter-departmental committee was set up, serviced by the LDDC, which at least made relevant civil servants aware of the need to think about capital and revenue implications, even if it did not result in the team effort, focus and immediate financial allocation desired. For the Corporation, such bureaucratic shackles and reliance on other organisations were frustrating. Action depended on the availability of funding and Government approval.

Although the LDDC was expected to contribute to facilities to match the population increase, capital investment, for example in education, had largely to concentrate on improvements outside mainstream Government spending and to focus on items such as halls or sports pitches, which could also be used for local community purposes, or facilities for the under-fives. The LDDC could also tackle gaps where the education authorities had no obligation, for example, in the forward thinking and popular introduction of computers into local schools, which resulted in Docklands having the highest ratio of machines to pupils in the countryTraining for disabled.

However, this early strategic approach to strengthen the existing communities and attract new residents through a policy of encouragement and selective support of facilities which were the responsibility of statutory bodies and councils was not going to do the job.

"This substantial population needs new schools, improved health facilities, opportunities for sport and recreation and social and meeting places. Statutory agencies are slow to respond to this demand," the 1986 Corporate Plan said of the changes taking place in the Surrey Docks"

In 1988, under growing pressure from the original communities, constant media attention, parliamentary criticism and ministerial appreciation of the limitations of physical and economic regeneration, the LDDC's remit was strengthened.

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Training Provision

From the LDDC's early days, it was obvious that the new East End economy was going to be very different from the old. The Telegraph, Guardian and Financial Times newspaper printing works were quickly attracted to the Enterprise Zone, as were skilled workshops and small offices. Even before Docklands was seen as an adjunct to the City of London with space for the new financial dealing floors, it was plain that future jobs were most likely to occur in the service sector including media and information technology.

Few people in the existing communities had the necessary skills for office work and, although construction, maintenance and servicing were possibly more relevant to those unemployed, these jobs too required training and skills, which many local people did not have.Construction Training

The LDDC was well aware of the need for training but only acquired the necessary powers to take action towards the end of 1983. Early efforts included backing (1.3 million) for an information technology centre (ITEC), which was opened in 1984 at lndescon Court on the Isle of Dogs with places for 35 people to train in computer and electronic skills. Although sponsored by the LDDC, its management board included representatives from the local trades council and community association. A training coordinator was appointed and grants were awarded to help workshops in Tower Hamlets and Newham train school leavers and also to establish Island Community Enterprise, an Isle of Dogs venture to organise local groups to bid for maintenance contracts. The ITEC was followed by the creation in 1986 of an organisation called Skillnet, which provided advice about training schemes of all kinds, careers counselling and access to computer facilities. At one time, it had a base in all three boroughs.

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As business moved into Docklands, pressure increased within the local communities for more jobs for local people. This was in fact a curiously parochial plea, harking back to an era when men walked to work, not the London of today in which, with its comprehensive public transport network, people no longer expect to live and work in the same corner of the city. Once the DLR opened in 1987, the area was no longer cut off and an important barrier to job seeking across the whole of the London labour market had been broken. However, when the new London City Airport announced its intention to employ local people where possible, many applicants, it emerged, did not have what are somewhat euphemistically described as the basic skills. They had been through school but could not adequately read, write or do simple mathematics. There was a similar problem with some applicants for training. At that time, such shortcomings in the education system, particularly of British inner cities, were only beginning to come to light.

As a result, the LDDC provided funds for special preliminary courses to help adults to catch up on their lack of schooling. Access centres were set up jointly to provide training in these basics and information technology.Butler Wharf Chef SchoolThe LDDC also backed an increasing number and range of training places, amounting finally to some 13,000 a year at the peak. As catering had become a growth industry, the Corporation, with Southwark Council and others supported The Butlers Wharf Chef School (263,000) on condition that there would be a quota of local trainees. Funds were also provided for a technical training centre at the Half Moon Young People's Theatre in Tower Hamlets. As part of the deal for Canary Wharf, the developers promised a minimum of 2,000 jobs for local people and made a substantial contribution to set up a new training centre for construction workers in the former Poplar swimming baths with an LDDC contribution of 1.1 million. A number of local people did take advantage of this opportunity and later worked on the development site.

Other initiatives included a customised training programme to equip local people for known jobs in shops, buses, marketing, administration, sales, hotel, catering and as traffic wardens. The LDDC also contributed to the provision of three specialised disabled training facilities and childcare to free parents for training or jobs and helped launch a scheme, known as Brainpower, to help Docklands residents of all ages, and regardless of previous formal qualifications, to embark on further education or university courses.

Despite a positive galaxy of schemes, apathy or ignorance continued and, following concern about take-up, the LDDC set up a computerised database of all Docklands post-school training and education with terminals in supermarkets as well as job centres. In addition "On Course", a training newspaper, was launched and delivered to every household in the area with "Docklands News".

For all the efforts, it is difficult to judge success but undoubtedly individuals have benefited and local unemployment rates have fallen from 17.8% in 1981 to 7.9% in September 1997 - 3,170 unemployed residents out of an estimated economically active population of 40,077.

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While training efforts were aimed at solving immediate problems, the LDDC was concerned about the future and the need to raise the standards and expectations of today's and tomorrow's children and parents. Working with the local education authorities, the three boroughs, capital investment by the Corporation has resulted in better facilities for pupils and the creation of new and improved facilities which can be used by parents and older members of the community, such as main halls, meeting rooms and sports pitches. Other financial help has gone towards providing education for the under-fives and schemes that will generally improve daily school life including refurbishment and environmental improvements.

Computers in schoolsFunding of more that 6.1 million was contributed towards 12 new primary schools across Docklands including the first new primary school for 20 years on the isle of Dogs at Arnhem Wharf and two new schools to be built in Newham at Winsor Park and at West Silvertown Urban Village. Another 5.2 million went into the Royal Docks Community School in Beckton, currently under construction and the first secondary school in Newham to be built south of the A13. A further 3.5 million funded a new secondary school in Rotherhithe - Bacon's City Technology College. In addition, 2.2 million was spent on extensions to ten primary and secondary schools including new or improved under-fives facilities. Childcare centres were also funded including Poplar Play Nursery (298,000) and Limehouse Arches (185,000). The Corporation funded major improvements in further education buildings to encourage young people, who had balked at the idea of school, to cross the threshold. There are now new further education provisions in each of the three boroughs, funded by the LDDC: an extension to Tower Hamlets College in Poplar High Street (10 million contributed); 1.5 million to help set up Newham 6th Form College; 1.46 million for Newham College of Further Education's third campus in the Royal Docks and 439,000 for the Surrey Quays annex to Southwark College.

A 4 million investment enabled the introduction, in successive phases, of computer-aided learning into 48 primary schools and four special needs schools. The Corporation provided the networked computers, software and the necessary teacher training. As a result, Docklands could boast the highest computer to pupil ratio in the country and thousands of children have become computer literate.

In the mid-1990s, computers were again provided as a teaching tool as part of the two-year Docklands Learning Acceleration Project, which was promoted by the National Literacy Association and funded mainly by the LDDC. Designed to help small children learn their three Rs, the scheme involved the provision of 120 school-based multi-media computers in 15 schools together with 500 palmtops. The schools were contracted to put seven year olds on the computer for 20 minutes a day and then send them home with palmtops for further practice. Of the 15 schools, the pupils of only one were reading at national average rates at the start of the project. After the first year seven were and after two years, ten.

Other initiatives included the provision of additional scientific equipment in a number of primary schools; information about new opportunities and careers being created in Docklands; the provision of minibuses; assistance in placing volunteer teachers in local business; information technology to maintain teacher and school records and the creation of two new urban learning centres for student teachers in Poplar and London Bridge aimed at giving student teachers experience of working in the inner city.

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Perhaps the most important venture in the long term for the area is the creation of a new university campus in the Royal Docks by the University of East London. Under construction and scheduled to open in 1999, the first 40 million phase to accommodate 3,000 students will transform local educational horizons. Built on a 25 acre (10 ha.) site on the north side of Royal Albert Dock, the campus will include purpose built teaching and research facilities, halls of residence, recreational facilities and ancilliary business and retail units. On completion, the full 562,000 sq.ft (55,000 sq.m.) development will accommodate up to 7,500 students and 1,000 staff. The campus will also include the Thames Gateway Technology Centre which has received 7.8 million from the Government's Single Regeneration Budget.Tower Hamlets College In addition to its academic functions, the Centre will provide a full range of services for new and existing companies in East London. These will include training and demonstration facilities, business start-up space and consultancy, a technology resource centre, an industrial design centre and research and development services. The LDDC has contributed 5 million to the project.

The rate of children now staying on at school for further education has doubled since the mid-1980s. In Tower Hamlets, for example, the percentage of pupils gaining five or more GCSEs at A - C grade has increased from 8.3% in 1989 to 21.7% in 1995, while rising expectations have resulted in post-16 staying on rates nearly doubling in the same period to over 70%. In addition, a number of initiatives for which pilot projects were evolved, including the improvement of basic skills of children and grown-ups, have now become part of the national agenda.

Through its funding of buildings and projects, the LDDC tried to raise the appeal of schools and education and provide programmes relevant to the changes taking place in the area and in the country at large. In the long term, as more people come to value a good education, this public investment in education could turn out to be an extremely important legacy of the LDDC's work in the regeneration of the East End.

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Kennard Street Health CentreHealth

The improvement of health facilities had to follow demand in terms of the new population and the need for facilities which better matched the quality of new housing and commercial development.

The initial programme was low key. In the 1980s, the LDDC contributed a small amount of funding to projects which the health authorities had started on before 1981, with money from the Docklands Urban Programme funding set aside for Docklands by the Department of the Environment and channelled to the local authorities and other agencies in consultation with the Docklands Joint Committee (DJC). This included the landscaping of a new health centre at Tollgate Road in Beckton (60,000), landscaping and a new car park at West Beckton Health Centre (176,000), local dental services, the provision of a hospital scanner, care for the mentally ill, transport and a pilot study in computer networking for health visitors. In the 1990s, following the shift of emphasis towards community investment, the situation was transformed. Poplar Play opening 1994Working with the regional and district health authorities plus the family practitioner committees, a joint health review was agreed which identified gaps, established targets, including numbers of doctors and nurses, and then proceeded to fill them.

While health authorities normally react to demand as population numbers rise, in Docklands they were faced with an exceptionally fast-moving situation. Admittedly they had to cope with a backlog of need across a much wider area. However, the LDDC's life and therefore its access to resources was time limited. Partly as a result of the inter-departmental committee, the authorities began to understand the need for co-ordination and immediate action.

The LDDC contributed consultancy, land and project money to the refurbishment and extension of six existing health centres and the construction of five new ones two on the Isle of Dogs, one in Poplar and two in the Royals. Island Health on the isle of Dogs replaced premises previously rented in the nearby ASDA Superstore. Costing 1.65 million, the health centre was built by a charitable trust with an LDDC contribution of 525,000. The centre has space for up to 70 permanent and visiting professionals including a local practice of up to seven doctors, a dental surgery, training rooms and 18 community health staff. Wapping Health CentreThe Docklands Medical Centre was built in response to the dramatic population increase in the southwest corner of the Isle of Dogs. Built by the GP practice at a total cost of 445,000 on an LDDC site with 272,000 from the Corporation - it also accommodates a dental surgery and community health staff.

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Newby Place in Poplar, which is smaller, was also going to be a trust but eventually a special company was set up to complete the development. It has space for a practice of three doctors, associated district nurses, health visitors and other community health staff. The 1.4 million centre replaced South Poplar Health Centre which had been based in temporary buildings for many years and benefited from LDDC funds of 430,000.

The John Dixon Health Clinic in Bermondsey was modernised with an LDDC contribution of 85,000 and the Albion Health Centre in the Surrey Docks extended allowing the practice to expand from three to five doctors (150,000). Gill Street Health Centre in Limehouse was also expanded with LDDC funding (280,000) while in Wapping the Corporation wholly funded a 448,000 refurbishment of the Wapping Health Centre.

In the Royal Docks, the 2.2 million Royals Medical Centre opened at the end of 1997 to serve the newly established residential area of East Beckton with a 683,000 contribution from the LDDC, while a 20-year-old health centre in North Woolwich, at Kennard Street, had a major refurbishment with 185,000 from the LDDC and 30,000 was allocated for healthcare facilities at West Silvertown Urban Village.

John Dixon and Island Health CentresIn addition, the LDDC funded specialist medical equipment, computers and software for local doctors and dentists; improvements to surgeries including disabled access; a mobile chiropody unit; a 250,000 contribution to MIND's new mental health resource centre in Poplar; a centre for the Tower Hamlets drugs team, which is outside the area; and a special drugs initiative on the Isle of Dogs. New children's day centres were provided in Wapping (1.2 million), Beckton (669,000) and North Woolwich (863,000). Funds were also made available to support carers of disabled people and for a telephone alarm system linked to elderly people. In all, the LDDC contributed some 4.8 million to improving health facilities in the area and a further 3.2 million on social care.

As a result of the LDDC, each of the Docklands areas has a new or upgraded centre which integrates GP and community health services in modern flexible premises able to respond to local needs well into the next century.

Over its 17 years, the Corporation spent just over 7% of its total budget on community infrastructure and activities. Of this 120 million, about half was invested in education and training and the balance on health and other community activities.

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Community Lifeblood

Encouraging Local Organisations

Over the 17 years, the LDDC acted as godparent to hundreds of local community and voluntary initiatives right across Docklands. Although choices had to be made and worthy applications lost out, the funding of voluntary groups was one area which was immediately welcome and helped a remarkable range of organisations with small projects and running costs.

Mudchute Agricultural  FairA selection may give some idea of the flavour and local importance. The initial list in 1983 awarded about 166,000 in the Docklands area of each borough and made 86 grants including grants for a day centre for the terminally ill, a riding school, facilities for a hospital league of friends, drop-in clubs for the elderly, football changing room facilities, community facilities in a mosque and churches, water sports clubs, the performance of children's plays, an urban farm, canteen and offices over existing workshops, a week in the countryside for 1,000 school children and running costs for a minibus. By 1989, the budget had risen to more than double plus 250,000 for 10 special social development awards to encourage new ideas for improving the quality of Docklands life and 25,000 for the development of the arts. The special awards included a community launderette and a training centre cafe. By 1997, more than 450 community and voluntary groups had received money from the LDDC.

In its first year, the LDDC discovered it was unable to fund such special Docklands Urban Programme projects without changes to the Government's grant memorandum. There were constraints - not more than 1% of the LDDC's total budget along with a five-year limit on revenue funding, which was later reduced to three years. The idea was to encourage groups to develop other more permanent funding sources. To try to ensure the money was spent on ideas and organisations which appealed to the local communities, the Corporation set up the Community Support Programme. Advisory groups were established in the three boroughs. Known as the 'Little Eggs', these put forward their choice of applicants for consideration by the LDDC, nicknamed the 'Big Egg'.

The organisations in Newham and Tower Hamlets were broadly similar, with representatives from the local community, the Council, the GLC (until its demise) and, when relevant, health and education authorities. As Southwark had by then decided to ignore the LDDC, a special group was established with a greater number of local community representatives including tenants associations. Grants were normally 75%, the balance coming from the local boroughs and, until 1990, the ILEA in Southwark and Tower Hamlets.

From the mid 1980's the Little Egg scheme in Newham Docklands was run jointly with the borough, with the Council administering the programme and contributing 25% of all grants made through the scheme. It came to be known as the Docklands Joint Funding Programme and forms the basis of an ongoing programme in Beckton, to be extended to the Royal Docks area after March 1998, as a joint venture between the Council and the Royal Docks Trust (London), endowed by the LDDC.

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Community Trusts

Because of continued pressure on local government spending and the need to find permanent new resources to keep such worthwhile projects alive after the LDDC departed from the Docklands scene, the Corporation encouraged the establishment of community trusts. If these could attract substantial endowments, the communities would be assured of regular support. The first attempt, the East End Community Trust, covered too wide an area and was seen, with three board members as its first trustees, as an LDDC offshoot. This trust was therefore wound down from 1988 in favour of a series of more locally based trusts, the first two being set up as companies limited by guarantee, but with charitable status, in Wapping and the Isle of Dogs. News International contributed the initial endowment fund of 3 million for the St Katharine and Shadwell Trust, which has a wide range of community purposes including the support of voluntary groups and projects for disabled people, training, culture and leisure. Its trustees include representatives from business, local residents, Tower Hamlets and the LDDC. In 1990 the Isle of Dogs Community Foundation was set up with cash from developers including a major injection of 595,000 from East India Dock developers, NCC.Endowment Ceremony

At that time, the LDDC was not in a position simply to hand over the large endowments necessary to create a reasonable income stream for the communities to support projects, which, in any event, were still able to apply for financial help under the Little Egg scheme.

However the gradual dedesignation of Docklands created an opportunity. Before the Beckton area of the Royals was handed on to Newham at the end of 1995, the LDDC and the borough paid for the commissioning, by members of the local consultative group, of a report into continuing gaps in the economic, social and community infrastructure. On the dedesignation of Beckton, the council would receive parcels of new public realm, together with the ongoing maintenance responsibility. Following negotiations about the terms under which it would accept this liability, the LDDC and Newham agreed a capital value on the revenue implications. This sum - 3.89 million - the LDDC subsequently spent on the new East Beckton District Centre including library and sports hall, the need for which had been highlighted in the consultant's report. The Corporation also gave 1.2 million to establish the Royal Docks (London) Trust. As part of the dedesignation package agreed with the council for the Royal Docks the LDDC contributed a further 300,000 to the new district centre and an additional 1.5 million to the trust along with a number of lands used for community purposes.

A similar exercise was carried out in the Isle of Dogs with a report paid for by the LDDC and commissioned by the Association of Island Communities and South Poplar and Limehouse Action for Secure Housing. Beckton District Centre groundbreakingAlthough its assessment suggested the need for an endowment of at least 4.3 million, or 6.45 million taking inflation into account, the deal with Tower Hamlets took a different course. The final figure agreed for the Isle of Dogs Community Foundation was 2.04 million including the transfer of two freeholds. The agreement also involved a joint 1 million LDDC/Tower Hamlets programme for continuing community financial support for three years. Around the same time a further 450,000 was pledged by Canary Wharf Ltd and Morgan Stanley and Co to the Community Foundation over a five year period.

The three trusts cover six wards in Newham and Tower Hamlets. Southwark did not wish to have a special endowment trust restricted to a relatively small part of the borough. As part of the dedesignation package agreed with Tower Hamlets for the handover of Wapping and Limehouse in January 1997, the Corporation contributed 440,000 for local capital projects. With the final handover in the Royals, the six former Docklands areas on the north side of the Thames had total endowments of 10 million, the income from which will continue to support community activities of all kinds in the future. Very few other areas of the country, let alone London, have similar community trusts.

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Improving the Environment

Parks, Restoration and Ecology

Mass tree planting, clean, restored buildings, new green open space and access to the riverside and the former docks-the water parks have made a vast difference to living in Docklands. Although local communities may now take such change for granted, in 1981 people across Docklands had daily to withstand the depressing effect of dereliction, deserted rotting buildings and forbidding stretches of corrugated iron. The docks were private property, mostly concealed behind high brick walls. industry and buildings lined much of the river also preventing public access. Taken together with the injection of new transport infrastructure, major shopping centres, and leisure and cultural opportunities, these changes have transformed the local quality of life.

Apart from the early decision to retain the remaining docks, which had major implications in terms of development, ambience and recreation, the LDDC concentrated first on aspects of the environment which could give an impression of action and make the area, especially gateway sites, more attractive to investors. About 10,000 trees were planted in the first year. Within four years, the total reached 60,000, in eight years 100,000 and after 15 years more than 160,000.

Money was allocated to clean up historic landmarks including the Hawksmoor churches of St. George's in Wapping and St. Anne's, Limehouse. Other churches and churchyards followed. in the Royals, St. Mark's was restored after a disastrous fire in 1981. The Corporation paid for the engineering to reclaim a gas industry spoil heap to create the Beckton Alps, part of which then became an artificial ski slope funded by the private sector and Government grant.

St Anne's Limehouse, one of many historic churches in Docklands to benefit from LDDC funding King Edward VII Memorial Park, Wapping Lavender Pond, Surrey Docks


In Southwark, development spoil was used to create Stave Hill, a small but important mound and new viewing point in the middle of a new ecology park, complete with butterfly sanctuary and wind turbine and managed by the Trust for Urban Ecology. In addition the trust manages Lavender Pond, Docklands' first ecology park, also in Southwark which received 278,000. A third ecology park was created by the LDDC at Bow Creek north of the river with 2.5 million funding and the LDDC encouraged a bird sanctuary in the East India Dock Basin. As well as improving and restoring existing open space and creating new parks, the LDDC staged a landscape competition for creating a new 23 acre (9 ha.) park at the Thames Barrier at a cost of 9.3 million, jointly funded with English Partnerships. Due for completion in 2000 this will be owned and managed by Newham. The LDDC was also able to provide matching funding for the successful Heritage Lottery Fund bids to restore Island Gardens overlooking the historic Greenwich world heritage site and to complete the All Saints Churchyard restoration. Importantly, many local parks were upgraded along with new local facilities for the area's young people including 200,000 for Pearson Park in the Surrey Docks; 1.3 million for Ropemaker's Field, Limehouse; 463,000 for Wapping Gardens; 640,000 for St. Andrew's Playspace on the Isle of Dogs and 1.1 million for Beckton District Park.

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Centre for Water Sports

The creation of as much riverside access as possible, and the decision to keep the docks were crucially important, not simply in providing new open space and a unique urban setting but in the retention of historic links and the area's special sense of place. Treatment of the docks and basins varied but the majority are accessible to the public and have been landscaped with the necessary paved promenades, seating, lighting and chain fence or rails. The historic cranes, which today act as a reminder of the industrial origin of these formal manmade tracts of water, were nearly sold for scrap. Instead the LDDC's application for their acquisition and restoration became an early test of the Department of the Environment's interpretation of its financial regime, which insisted on economic justification for any expenditure.

Shadwell Basin, Wapping Dragonboating at the Docklands sailing Centre, Millwall Dock Greenland Dock, Surrey Docks


The 417 acres (170 ha.) of docks also provided an opportunity for major new water sports facilities, such as sailing, canoeing, rowing and dragonboat racing, all of which have become increasingly popular. While fishing was already well established in the area, water sports were confined to Shadwell Basin in Wapping and virtually unknown elsewhere. The LDDC invested heavily in the development of facilities including the Docklands Sailing and Watersports Centre on the Outer Millwall Dock (1.3 million) on the Isle of Dogs; Surrey Docks Watersports Centre (1.2 million); the Docklands Watersports Club in the King George V Dock (800,000); and Shadwell Basin Watersports Centre (506,000). Most are now run by trusts.

The retention of the water as an amenity was not always easy. Once the Enterprise Zone began to attract major investment, water as well as land acquired development value and buildings were allowed to jut into sections of the West India Docks, most particularly at Canary Wharf, which expanded on either side to leave narrow stretches of water. in the Royal Albert Dock, an international standard rowing course and regatta centre is being built with Sports Lottery Funding of 8.9 million and an LDDC and English Partnerships contribution of 7.2 million on major site infrastructure, including the widening of the dock at the eastern end to accommodate the 2000 metre course.

During the late 1980s, the LDDC set up and administered a short-term water development fund to help promote events and activities. Outside organisations and sponsors were encouraged to take part in the hope that at least some events would become permanent and self-financing. As time passed, the harbourmaster assumed responsibility for the co-ordination of events, together with the Docklands Water Development Group, a forum for water users which met on a quarterly basis under the LDDC's aegis. Dragonboat racing has become very popular and attracts company boats. Although water quality in the docks is almost always up to European standards in all respects except clarity, swimming is discouraged because of the literally breath-taking danger of body contact with the intensely cold water which lies close to the deceptively warm surface, together with the great depth and murkiness of the waters.

Regatta CentreGiven the uncertainty of sufficient financial support following the departure of the LDDC, which provided help with equipment, sponsorship and staff, the individual centres need to become more commercial, generating income from their buildings and charging realistic prices to those who can afford to pay. They also need to attract a more London-wide clientele to fulfil their potential. As the LDDC's final water strategy stated:

"This will inevitably change the nature of the centres but is the key to their long-term future at a time when continued local authority funding, certainly at current levels, cannot be guaranteed".

The management of the docks and water has passed to a number of different organisations: a private non profit making company, the Royal Docks Management Authority (RoDMA), in the Royals; British Waterways in the Isle of Dogs and Limehouse; and the London Borough of Southwark in the case of Greenland and South Docks. The Shadwell Basin Project is responsible for day-to-day management of the water with funding for maintenance protected by a charity.

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The regeneration of London's Docklands has highlighted the difficulties of development and change within any area of a city with established communities. To win their support can require endless talk, time and expense, even if the problems of securing genuine representation of local opinion can be solved. Too many groups have highly active and articulate self-appointed leaders, who may speak well but not necessarily for the silent majority.St John's Park

Given the warring history of Docklands against dock employers and then the Conservative Government, it is uncertain that such public support could have been easily won. Although the docks had served London on a national and international basis, it was difficult for local people to accept the need for new development to serve an equal but different international and national role instead of simply serving their individual needs for jobs and a better quality of life.

In an ideal situation, a reasonable balance of community investment would have proceeded simultaneously with the attraction of private investment into housing and business and public funding of new transport infrastructure. But the task of turning the area around was enormous, the economy given higher priority, the amount of Government money restricted and the LDDC team small. Over time and with the availability of additional finance for community investment, attitudes changed and teamwork prevailed with the local authorities and other public organisations. Of course, more could have been done and it is possible to criticise individual ventures. And there is still a lot to do. But that is the nature of every enterprise and a great deal was achieved.

By the end of its regeneration remit, the LDDC provided the means for widescale improvements to the lives of the original 40,000-strong communities. In the 1990s, progress became obvious with schools, colleges, social housing, parks and play areas and all around the area on the ground. It is not surprising if the brickbats continued instead of bouquets. Local people were shrewd enough to realise that continual pressure right up until the end might secure additional benefit. As a result, the area has won far more public investment than other parts of the boroughs. There is also now much greater understanding of the future world of work and the need, little appreciated in the 1980s, for a local economy linked to the global economy and for the cultivation of brain instead of muscle power.

The MORI opinion poll of local people commissioned by the LDDC at the end of 1997 showed that over two-thirds of people involved in the survey thought the LDDC had done a good job and that the prospects for the area were good. Surrey Docks residents remained the most optimistic about the area while 69% of those living on the Isle of Dogs were positive about future prospects, compared to 58% in a 1996 MORI survey. Only 53% of Royal Docks residents thought prospects were good. But then the Royals kept on seeing promised developments fail to materialise because recession struck and the development timescale for such a large area, even within a pulsing capital city, was too tight. The Isle of Dogs was always the focus of most discontent and had to cope with the pressure of an Fnterprise Zone and continuing large scale construction within its midst.

Overall, however, the local Docklands communities have again shown courage in the face of great events. They now have the basis to become a special but normal part of London, to take advantage of changes to date and continue to improve the quality of life for future generations.

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Bermondsey Riverside





St Peter's Youth Centre £46,000 Bede House £150,000
Beormund Centre £250,000 John Dixon Health Centre £85,000
Play Area, Dickens Estate £72,000 Cherry Gardens £329,000
Edward Ill's Manor House £700,000 St Michael's R.C. Primary School £34,000
Riverside Primary School £35,000 Butlers Wharf Chef School £263,000
St Joseph's R.C. Primary School £75,000
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St Peter's Church £70,000 St Patrick's Church £122,000
Wapping Community Group & Tenants Social Club £253,000 St Paul's C. of E. Church & Crypt £400,000
St Peter's Community, Education & Arts Centre £953,000 Wapping Health Centre £448,000
Wapping Family Centre £1.2 million Helling Street Play area £31,000
Playgroup Chandler Street £35,000 Waterside Gardens Riverside £45,000
Wapping Sports Centre All Weather Pitch £55,000 John 0rwell Sports Centre £59,000
Wapping Green £60,000 Brussels Wharf £95,000
Waterside Gardens £100,000 Prospect Wharf £100,000
Wapping Pierhead £158,000 St John's Churchyard £177,000
Stephen & Matilda Environmental Play Area £214,000 King Edward VIl Memorial Park £267,000
St George's Baths £283,000 Tower Bridge Wharf £310,000
Shadwell Pierhead £370,000 Wapping Gardens £463,000
Shadwell Basin Watemports Centre £506,000 Wapping Wood £772,000
Shadwell Basin Environmental Area £1.3 million Western Dock Canal £1 million
St Patrick's R.C. Junior School £62,000 Community Crypt Including Nursery £130,000
Ensign Youth Club £189,000 Stephen & Matilda Day Nursery £200,000
Bluegate Fields School £278,000 St Peter's C. of E. Primary School £292,000
Hermitage Primary School £356,000 Wapping Youth Club £366,000
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Barleymow Tenants Room £40,000 St Vincent's Tenants Meeting Rooms £40,000
Limehouse Library £98,000 Barleymow Veteran Club £203,000
St Anne's C.of E. Church and Crypt £1.4 million Gill Street Health Centre £280,000
St Anne's Churchyard/The Mitre Gardens £26,000 Play Area Barleymow Estate £40,000
Play Area St Vincent's £96,000 Riverside Walkway £500,000
Ropemaker's Field £1.3 million Cyril Jackson Primary School £22,000
Cyril Jackson Primary School (New Annexe) £185,000 Limehouse Arches Day Nursery £185,000
Wapping Training £637,000 Limehouse Youth Club £1.4 million
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Surrey Docks






Rotherhithe Civic Centre £6,000 Time and Talent Association £112,000
Dockland Settlement £188,000 Holy Trinity Church £224,000
Surrey Docks Health Centre £117,000 Albion Health Centre £150,000
Brunel Road Play Area £23,000 Russia Dock Woodland £60,000
Surrey Docks Stadium £86,000 Pearson Park £200,000
Lavender Pond Nature Park £278,000 Barnard's Wharf walkway £332,000
Stave Hill Ecology Park £485,000 Surrey Docks Farm £355,000
Seven Islands Leisure Centre £374,000 Canada Water Ecology & Windmill £982,000
Surrey Docks Watersports Centre £1.2 million Albion Primary School £13,000
Peter Hills Primary School £77,000 Bacon's College £3.5 million
Bacon's VI Form Extension £200,000 Mari Training £223,000
Jarvis Construction Training £223,000 St John's R.C. Primary School £256,000
Redriff Primary school £277,000 Surrey Docks Play Association £405,000
Southwark College Surrey Docks £439,000 Skillnet Training £480,000
Alfred Salter Primary School £500,000
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Isle of Dogs





Millwall Park £66,000 Sir John McDougall Gardens £216,000
Timber Whames Play Area Grant £100,000 River/Dockside Walk £1.5 million
Docklands Sailing & Watersports
£1.3 million George Green Sports Centre £19,000
Island Swimming Baths & Arts Centre £101,000 St Johns Park £534,000
Castalia Square (St Johns Estate) £475,000 Barkantine Shops £563,000
Millwall One O'clock Club £660,000 Barkantine Hall £62,000
Alpha Grove Community Centre £465,000 Dockland Settlement £81,000
George Green School Pitch £320,000 Island History Trust £47,000
Island House/Island Advice £111,000 Samuda Centre £408,000
Mudchute Farm £1.21 million Cedar Centre £194,000
Scouts Accommodation £342,000 Christ Church £66,000
St Pauls Art Centre (The Space) £325,000 Island Health Centre £525,000
Docklands Medical Centre £272,000 Cubitt Town Primary & Infant School £8,000
St Edmonds R.C. Primary Infants School £8,000 St Luke's C. of E. Primary School £331,000
Seven Mills Primary School £3,000 Harbinger Primary School £126,000
George Green Secondary School £190,000 Docklands New Technology Centre (ITEC) £1.3 million
Isle of Dogs Access Centre £357,000 Hospitality Training Centre £10,000
Arnhem Wharf School £550,000 St Andrews Playspace £430,000
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Beckton Corridor £1.26 million Beckton District Park £1.1 million
New Beckton Park £130,000 Newham City Farm £980,000
North Beckton District Park £370,000 Winsor Park Agoraspace £172,000
Equestrian Centre £1.15 million Will Thorne Play Area £44,000
Renfrew Close Play Area £44,000 North Beckton School Play Area £44,000
North Beckton Play Facilities £174,000 Prince Regent Play Pitch £33,000
Tollgate Health Centre £60,000 West Beckton Health Centre £176,000
Royal Docks Medical Centre £683,000 Beckton Centre/Play Group £669,000
Family Welfare Association £10,000 Winsor Park Community Centre £446,000
Winsor Park Resource Centre £777,000 West Beckton Community Centre £105,000
East Beckton District Centre £4.2 million St Mark's Community Centre £1,14 million
Beckton Special School £33,000 Calverton Primary School £10,000
Ellen Wilkenson Primary School £444,000 North Beckton Primary School £931,000
Scott Wilkie Primary School £10,000 Winsor Primary School . £923,000
Winsor Park School £479,000 Newham Sixth Form College £1.5 million
Barnado's West Beckton Centre £434,000
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Royal Docks





Thames Barrier Park £9.3m Lyle Park £20,000
Royal Albert Dock International Rowing Course and Regatta Centre £7.2 million Royal Victoria Dock Project Watemports £1.2 million
Royal Victoria Gardens £347,000 Allotments £265,000
St Mark's War Memorial £25,000 Bow Creek Ecology Park £2.5 million
Docklands Watemports Club £800,000 Kennard Street Health Centre £185,000
West Silvertown Urban Village £30,000 Andrew Street Tenants Association £21,000
Church of the Ascension £134,000 St Johns C. of E. & Catholic Church £55,000
Woodman Street T.A. Hall £43,000 Newham Community Transport £110,000
Shipmen's Youth Centre £157,000 North Woolwich & Silvertown
Royal British Legion Club
Royal Docks Community School £5.2 million UEL's Docklands Campus £5 million
Newham College of Further Education £1.46 million Drew Road Primary School £20,000
Storey Primary School £20,000 Pier Training Shop £131,000
Woolwich Children's Centre £910,000 Motor Cycle Training £128,000
West Silvertown Proposed New School £700,000


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Docklands Redevelopment Proposals for East London, R.Travers Morgan & Partners,1973

London Docks, John Pudney, Thames and Hudson,1975

London Docklands Strategic Plan, Docklands Joint Committee, 1976

Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980

Docklands Urban Development Corporation Draft Business Plan 1981/82, Vol 1, Coopers & Lybrand Associates, 1980

London Docklands Development Corporation (Area and Constitution) Order 1980, Select Committee of the House of Lords, HMSO, 1981

OPCS County Monitor, Greater London Supplement 3, Docklands Special Area, 1982

The Problems of Management of Urban Renewal (Inner Cities Policies Partnerships, Programmes), House of Commons Environment Committee, Minutes of Evidence, 8 March 1983

The Employment Effects of Urban Development Corporations, House of Commons Employment Committee Third Report, House of Commons Paper 327-1, HMSO, 1988

Urban Development Corporations, Committee of Public Accounts, Twentieth Report, HMSO, 1989

Ten Years of Docklands: How the Cake was Cut, Association of London Authorites and the Docklands Consultative Committee, 1991

Opportunities for Beckton, Filling the Regeneration Gap, Paul Willett Associates

Continuing Regeneration in the Isle of Dogs, Paddington Consultancy Partnership, 1996

Focus on London 97, The Stationery Office, 1996

Annual Reports, Corporate Plans, briefings and internal papers of the LDDC

Docklands News, the LDDC's monthly newspaper

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This monograph presents a personal broadbrush interpretation of the London Docklands Development Corporation s relations with and impact on the local communities. It is based on desk research and interviews, mainly of Corporation staff. It does not include the views of the three local authorities.

Because of the area's scale and complexity and personal roles, passion and politics, no two individuals, even those most closely involved, ever see Docklands development from the same viewpoint. Although 1 have tried to stand back, mine is undoubtedly informed and influenced by my work in Docklands as an LDDC consultant from 1981 to 1984 and previously at St Katharine by the Tower.

I would like to thank the many people, not all named here, who have been extremely helpful and given generously of their time and interest, in trying to draw out the main themes.

Gareth Bendon, LDDC Head of Executive Office
Vicki Blyth, LDDC Head of Media and PR
Robin Buckle, LDDC Leisure Development Officer
Sunny Crouch, LDDC Director Marketing and Public Affairs
Jeff Hennessy, LDDC City Design Programme Manager
Julia Heynat, LDDC Corporation Information Manager
Stuart lnnes, LDDC Manager, Completion Policy
John Johnson, LDDC Economic & Social Projects Officer
Helen Kenney, LDDC Community Development Officer
John Mills, former LDDC Deputy Chairman
Eddie Oliver, former LDDC Deputy Chief Executive
Bob Pringle, former IDDC Executive Director of Community Infrastructure
Peter Rimmer, LDDC Manager, Community Infrastructure
Stephen Shaw, LDDC Manager, Housing, Amenities & Services
Eric Sorensen, former LDDC Chief Executive
Peter Turlik, former LDDC Director of Strategic Affairs
Peter Wade, Canary Wharf Community Liaison Officer
Reg Ward, former LDDC Chief Executive

Judy Hillman

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Other Monographs in this series, all published in 1997/98, are as follows

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Completion Booklets

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Annual Reports and Accounts

As with most organisations the Annual Reports and Accounts of the LDDDC are a good source of chronological information about the work of the Corporation and how it spent its money. Altogether these reports contain more than 1000 pages of information. These have been scanned and reproduced as zip files on our Annual Reports and Accounts page

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