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(Note: The Monographs and LDDC Completion booklets referred to on this page have been reproducedon thisd site by kind permission of the Commission for the New Towns now known as English Partnerships.They are 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)
What was the LDDC?
THE Corporation was an urban development corporation, the second to be established by the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltine, under s.136 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980. Its object was to secure the regeneration of the London Docklands Urban Development Area (UDA) comprising 8½ square miles of East London in the Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham and Southwark. This was a response to a huge decline in the economy of the area brought about by the progressive closure of the 1960s onwards. Years later, in his book Life in the Jungle*, Michael Heseltine wrote:
"I had found myself in in small plane, heading in that direction by way of the London's East End. My indignation at what was happening on the South Bank was as nothing compared to my reaction to the immense tracts of dereliction I now observed. The rotting docks - long since abandoned for deep-water harbours able to take modern container ships downstream - the crumbling infrastructure that had once supported their thriving industry and vast expanses of polluted land left behind by modern technology and enhanced environmentalism. The place was a tip: 6,000 acres of forgotten wasteland"
There had been attempts by the local authorities to deal with this. (These are described in an LDDC monograph "Initiating Urban Change" published in 1997). These efforts were perceived by the Government to be much too slow and there was a need for resources on a scale which it would only make available through a focussed agency of its own. LDDC was wholly financed by grant from the Government and the income generated by the disposal of land for housing, industrial and commercial development.
(* Hodder and Stoughton, 2000, ISBN 0 340 73915 0 - see pages 130,153, 200, 211-214, 380, 397-398 and 515. Among LDDC veterans Michael Heseltine is often thought of as the father of the Corporation - click the thumbnail to the right to see a 1987 picture of Michael Heseltine with LDDC staff)Top of Page
Aims and powers
Although its influence in the area was undoubtedly very strong, LDDC's powers were in practice pretty limited:
Apart from planning all other public services (housing, education, health etc) remained firmly in the hands of the Boroughs and other public agencies although the Corporation could and did provide funds for their development and improvement. The Corporation's lack of remit in this respect was often misunderstood by those who felt the LDDC should do more to revitalise these services for the benefit of local people.Top of Page
THE 1980 Act requires an urban development corporation "to secure the regeneration of its area, 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 are available to encourage people to live and work in the area".
Against such a brief the task facing the Corporation in 1981 was daunting. A Regeneration Research Report (No 12 - see below) published in 1997 by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) analysed the problems of the Docklands as follows:
THE Corporation was at work for 17 years. In its final Annual Report in 1998 it headlined its achievements as follows:
How well did LDDC succeed?
OPINIONS vary about how well the Corporation succeeded in its regeneration task and the extent to which its work was a benefit to the original inhabitants of its area. Another Regeneration Research Report (Number 16 - see below) published by DETR in 1998 has this to say:-
THE Corporation, which was established on 2nd July 1981, was expected to need 10-15 years to accomplish its task. In October 1994 it began by stages to withdraw. Bermondsey Riverside in Southwark was the first area to be "dedesignated" and the withdrawal process ended with the Royal Docks on 31st March 1998 although its task there was not fully complete. The Corporation was formally wound up on 30th June 1998.
IN most of the LDDC's area the Corporation' work was sufficiently complete, and the momentum of regeneration such, that there was no need for a specialised agency to take over its role. The Boroughs and other local agencies were left to carry on the work. In the Royal Docks, however, the Corporation's there was a good deal of outstanding work. This was taken over by another agency of the central government, English Partnerships, working in collaboration with the London Borough of Newham to whom the LDDC's planning powers were restored. The joint team established for this purpose operates from offices on the north side of the Royal Albert Dock just opposite London City Airport.
The Corporation's own record of its work is recorded in a series of nine monographs published towards the end of its life and summed up in its Regeneration Statement. These have been reproduced in HTML format and are available on this site
The LDDC withdrew from its area by stages starting with Bermondsey Riverside on 30th October 1994 and ending with the Royal Docks 31st March 1998. As each area was "de-designated" the Corporation published a booklet with a brief history of the area and of the LDDC's work there. These,too, are reproduced on this site:
Select Committee Report
The Government's proposal to establish the LDDC attracted a number of objections. These were heard by a Select Committee of the House of Lords which sat for 46 days starting in February 1981.The Select Committee's report (.pdf 647 kb) was published on 5th June 1981
In 2004 an IP consultant, who until 1998 was a senior LDDC officer (serving throughout the whole of the Corporation's life), spoke to a group of students from Cambridge University. The slides used in this presentation can be seen by clicking below:
The views expressed in the presentation are entirely those of the former LDDC officer.
In 1997/98 the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) commissioned an evaluation of the LDDC by Cambridge Policy Consultants Ltd. This followed an earlier baseline report undertaken by consultants PriceWaterhouse. Summaries of these reports, referrred to above, are available on the DETR's website:-
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.
NAO Report - How European Cities Achieve Renaissance
In 2007 the National Audit Office carried out a study of how central government departments work with each other and with regional and local bodies to deliver the Government's ambitious aspirations for the Thames Gateway. As part of this study the NAO explored how seven European cities or regions have tackled regeneration and brrought sustainable growth and renewal to local communities. Brief summaries of these companion studies are published in the NAO publication How European Cities Achieve Renaissance. Among the short reports, on pages 21-28, is one on the LDDC's work in London Docklands.
Overview of LDDC Accounts
As part of a wider NAO study of the Thames Gateway programme, the National Audit Office in 2007 carried out a short analysis of the Annual Accounts of the LDDC over the 17 years of its life.The resulting overview was not published but is reproduced here by kind permission.