(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)
The development of London Docklands has generated huge interest from around the world. Large numbers of planners and politicians from continental Europe, North America and the Far East have visited the Urban Development Area over the last 16 years eager to find out how the area's transformation has been achieved. Curiously, although much has been written in the United Kingdom about the planning of London Docklands, enquiries and visits to the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) by British planners and academics have been remarkably few. This monograph sets out to record the approach adopted by the LDDC to plan the regeneration of its area.
Opinions have varied considerably but the successful completion of the LDDC's remit from Government to secure the regeneration of the abandoned area of the docks is there for all to see. There may well have been other ways in which the regeneration of the area could have been secured but it is certain that the strategy advocated by some in the 1970's, had it been possible for it to be implemented, would have perpetuated rather than solved the problems of East London. Policies to dramatically increase the amount of social housing, which then represented a disproportionately high percentage of the existing stock compared with other parts of London, would surely have placed added pressures on the resources of the local authorities already straining under the existing burden. Similarly the objective to maintain a low wage economy by only supporting initiatives which would provide unskilled and semi-skilled jobs would have excluded the possibility of providing the wider range of employment opportunities that are now available.
In the last 16 years Docklands has been transformed. It is accessible and provides a range of housing and employment opportunities at least as wide as any other part of London. However, the dramatic pace of change that has occurred since 1981 has inevitably had its impact on the lives of the people of Docklands and the concerns that some have expressed about the new developments are understandable. It is probably too early to reach any final conclusions as to the success of the LDDC's work as the completion of the area's renaissance will take another decade. Docklands needs to mature and adjust to accommodate the evolving needs of the people that now live and work there.
A comprehensive architectural review of London Docklands has been prepared by Elizabeth Williamson in the Buildings of England series initiated by Nicholas Pevsner. The book will complement this monograph and is due for publication in February 1998.
What ever else the LDDC has achieved the area is now well and truly in the mainstream of metropolitan life and well placed to benefit from the capital's future development.
LDDC November 1997
Introduction - In the Beginning
The Docklands inherited by the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) in 1981 was isolated both physically and emotionally from the rest of London. It was not only difficult to get to, as the roads were poor and public transport to the area was virtually non existent, but few people in the rest of London thought that the area was worth visiting anyway. Long standing local residents relate stories of London taxi cabs refusing fares to the Docklands area. Residents on the Wapping Estate would apparently ask taxies to take them to Wapping police station believing that drivers would be less inclined to refuse passengers apparently with police business. Docklands was beset by overwhelming problems of social deprivation, poor housing and bleak prospects for education and employment in a physical context of dereliction and decay. No one but a few visionary pioneers who, like the LDDC, saw the tremendous potential of Docklands and moved here to commence the process of regeneration, saw the area as having any value.
The official attitude to the character of Docklands was that there were few buildings of any quality there. Many of the l9th century warehouses were allowed to be demolished after the docks closed. The docks themselves were being filled in and the local authorities based their vision of the future on a patch work of more council housing (95% of all housing in Docklands was already rented, mostly by the local authorities) and industry, both to be publicly financed.
Although the local planning authority for development control, the LDDC is not the statutory plan making authority for the Urban Development Area (UDA) and never has been. After the creation of the LDDC the responsibility for plan making remained with the three Docklands Boroughs of Southwark, Tower Hamlets and Newham. However in 1981 the only up to date plan for the UDA was the Beckton District Plan, adopted by Newham in 1980. The Tower Hamlets Borough Plan was adopted in 1986 and it was not until 1995 when Southwark's Unitary
Development Plan (UDP) was adopted that an up to date plan was available for the UDA south of the river. The Newham UDP came into force in June 1997 but prior to then the statutory plan for the Royal Docks area was the Greater London Development Plan adopted in 1976.
Until its demise in 1986 the Greater London Council (GLC) was responsible for the planning and construction of all major roads within the Metropolis. Their plans included a comprehensive network of new roads (including the roads that now make up the Docklands Highways) to provide access to, through and within Docklands. However vacillation and procrastination meant that the majority of the GLC's schemes never got beyond the drawing board.
The post-war period in Britain saw the emergence of a wide range of innovative policies for repairing and modernising the country following the ravages of war. The comprehensive redevelopment of large areas of our inner cities was matched by a national programme of New Town construction on green field sites. However by the late 1960's politicians and the general public were questioning many of the underlying principles of these policies. The destruction of residential areas to make way for new blocks of flats was abandoned to be replaced by policies of repair and refurbishment. General Improvement Areas (GlAs) were designated and generous grants were made available for housing upgrading and repairs. The success of the New Towns was being questioned. They were taking longer to complete than the 20 years originally planned and often the shops and amenities offered were inadequate. New Towns were disliked by many of their inhabitants who often commuted to the major conurbations from whence they had come for both work and recreation. The concept of Comprehensive Development Areas (CDAs), which saw the destruction of established town centres and residential districts and their replacement by anonymous and universally hated blocks of flats, office buildings and shopping centres which were both expensive to build and to manage, was abandoned. The policy was replaced by the concept of Conservation Areas which was introduced to protect the historic parts of our cities and towns. During the 1970's a more sensitive, incremental approach to planning emerged with the abandonment of comprehensive redevelopment plans for such significant areas as Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden and their replacement by conservation based schemes. But how could such an approach be valid for Docklands where officials saw nothing worth conserving?
During the 1970's there was considerable debate about what to do with the Docklands. The traditional land use based plans produced by Travers Morgan, consultants to the GLC, had been rejected. The area was clearly in decline but the local authorities wanted to try to halt the closure of the docks by modernisation and improving access. But even the Royal Group of Docks, the most modern on the Thames above Tilbury, finally proved inefficient and unable to cope with containerised freight and the increasingly larger ships used in international shipping. The Port of London Authority saw the abandoned docks as a liability and proceeded to fill them in as they closed, so creating even more vacant and derelict land.
In 1981 when the LDDC came into being there was no consensus about what should be done. The Docklands Strategic Plan produced by the Docklands Joint Committee and the GIC identified land for new housing and employment uses but there was no indication of how its proposals would (or could) ever be implemented. It was impossible to determine the quantum of development that could be realistically achieved and therefore difficult to assess the area's transport infrastructure needs. Indeed it would have been impossible to demonstrate the necessity of major new roads and railways at public inquiries or in Parliament without any credible development proposals to substantiate the demand.
London Docklands Development Corporation
The traditional approach to inner city reconstruction was clearly inappropriate for Docklands. Apart from doubts about the ability of Comprehensive Development Areas (CDA) to satisfactorarily deal with urban renewal Docklands was significantly larger than any CDA previously undertaken and too diverse and complex an area for such a simplistic strategy. A new approach was necessary.
The approach adopted by the LDDC and set out in its Annual Report 1981-82 published in June 1982, was radically different from that being promoted by the local authorities or indeed the recommendations of Travers Morgan. Essentially the LDDC's approach was to enhance and conserve what was best about the area, to promote and build on its many qualities and, by improving transport, make it easier to get to. The strategy needed to be flexible and provide scope for enterprise and initiative. The LDDC prepared a series of planning framework Strategies which elaborated this strategy, one for each of the principal development areas within the UDA based on the existing districts and communities. They sought to promote the opportunities of Docklands to investors and developers, consult and seek comments on the LDDC's ideas from the people that already lived and worked in the area and advise the Boroughs of the LDDC's intentions for incorporation into their statutory plans.
These framework documents demonstrated the potential of Docklands by opening up development possibilities rather than closing down options. Most importantly the strategies provided a framework for regeneration with sufficient flexibility to allow for the changing economic and social demands that would certainly arise during the period of regeneration of such a large area. Ironically the frameworks were criticised as being "plans" therefore outside of the LDDC's remit.
The case for infrastructure improvements had to be argued incrementally as the development potential of Docklands was realised. The LDDC was keen to redevelop the "brown field' sites of Docklands for a diverse range of uses. This would draw development pressure for new houses away from London's green belt repopulating the inner city for the first time since the war. Commercial development, particularly the large open floor areas required by international companies, could readily be accommodated on the large empty sites available in Docklands so relieving pressure on the City and the West End and the historic heart of London. This strategy promoted a sustainable outcome as people would be able to live and work in the same area so reducing the need for long distance commuting. The mix of residential and commercial uses would also enhance the viability of the shops, restaurants and other amenities the LDDC wished to encourage.
However to achieve this the image of the area as a remote and desolate part of London had to be changed. The priority was public transport. Initially a bus service was provided between Mile End and the Isle of Dogs and then the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) was commissioned. At the same time, to coincide with the designation of the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone (EZ), the "red brick" EZ roads were built to provide access to the first commercial development sites there. These initiatives provided the impetus for the first wave of investment which eventually culminated in the proposals for Canary Wharf. These in turn provided the justification, not only for the Docklands Highways and the extension of the Docklands Light Railway to Bank but for the Jubilee line Extension as well.
Development Planning Strategy
The Government's remit to the LDDC was to harness private enterprise. There was a belief that the 'market' would provide the solution to the problem that had eluded the public sector. There was however no "market" in Docklands as the private sector had consistently shunned investment in the area. This meant that the LDDC's initial inclination was to create a "market" and encourage and welcome any new development. There was also a concern that the LDDC would be unable to argue for quality design as to do so would risk frightening off developers. Slowly, however, the credibility of Docklands was established and the ability to argue successfully for higher standards of design increased.
London Docklands is not a discrete area with a single unified identity. It is large and extremely complex. The development context varies considerably across the 22 sq. km. which make up the UDA. The fine urban grain based on medieval development focused in the areas of London Bridge City, the Bermondsey Riverside and Wapping and Limehouse contrast dramatically with the vast areas of land and water which make up the Royal Docks. Keen to create a development of interest and diversity based around the concept of city districts, the planning policies of the LDDC have sought to build on the intrinsic character of each development area and so avoid the anonymity that would result from the creation of a single uniform development across the whole area. In addition by focusing on the development of a series of discrete districts based where possible on the existing communities the LDDC was able to propose policies which recognised the particular concerns of the locality. In 1985, once the broad strategy for regeneration had been established local LDDC offices were set up to forge closer links with residents, community groups and businesses as specific development proposals were brought forward for consideration and implementation.
The LDDC also recognised that the regeneration of such a large area would take at least two decades during which time many changes - political, social and economic - would occur. The advance of technology would, as well have its impact on the desires and aspirations of both business and residential communities. A flexible and incremental approach to the planning strategy for the area was therefore essential, with each stage testing the development that had occurred to date and searched for new solutions as needs dictated and circumstances changed.
The development process needed to accommodate not only the diversity of land uses that one would expect to find in any mature city district but also to set that in the context of an extended period of time. The process accepted the changes that would arise during the course of development and welcomed those changes as a positive contribution to viable development. This was in contrast to more traditional development planning techniques which view change as unwelcome and unforeseen pressure which could undermine the purity of the original concept and, indeed, invalidate it. The usual land use development planning approach which seeks to chart more than twenty years of development from the viewpoint of a single moment in time would not have been appropriate. The LDDC's approach was to combine flexibility, diversity and intensity within an infrastructure framework which would provide access to and within the area as a model for long term regeneration.
The development strategy for the regeneration of London Docklands, set out in the LDDC's Annual Report 1981-82, comprised a number of key priorities which were developed over subsequent years:
Heritage and Conservation
The architectural heritage of Docklands had, to a great extent, been ignored during the 1960's and 1970's. Many fine buildings were lost, notably at St Katharine Docks, the London Docks in Wapping and the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs where buildings dating from the early and mid-19th century were demolished with hardly a second thought. Plans for the development of Docklands, prepared prior to the creation of the LDDC, generally ignored or at best made only passing reference to the area's architectural heritage, viewing future development options primarily in terms of redevelopment. This followed the tradition of post-war inner city planning and the promotion of Comprehensive Development Areas which entailed the wholesale redevelopment of town centres and residential areas - the "clean sheet' approach.
This policy, which had developed from the reconstruction and slum clearance programmes of the post-war era, ignored any reference to context or continuity and sought to impose alien development upon large parts of our inner cities. The error of this policy was realised in the late 1960's and new legislation introduced concerning planning, conservation and housing, which recognised the importance of conservation and improvement as opposed to wholesale redevelopment. The dated planning policies, however, lived on through the 1970's in the various proposals prepared for Docklands, finally to be reversed by the LDDC which sought to cherish the area's unique heritage of historic buildings and build upon it.
One of the first actions of the LDDC was to formally invite the Department of the Environment to reappraise the historic buildings of Docklands. This was completed in 1982 and 116 buildings were added to the statutory list of Buildings of Architectural and Historic Interest. In parallel with this the LDDC set about an assessment of the area's historic character and eight new conservation areas were designated, with a further five previously existing conservation areas extended, between 1981 and 1991.
The River and the Docks
The earlier plans for the redevelopment of London Docklands not only ignored the area's architectural heritage but saw the enclosed areas of the docks as a problem and as a liability. Proposals, therefore, included their in-filling in order to create even more land for development, a policy which is difficult to imagine now, given the amount of vacant and derelict land in the area at that time. The potential of the river was virtually ignored as well.
The docks and the Thames are most powerful symbols of the area's heritage and a unique visual and recreational amenity. It is the docks in particular that distinguishes the area from any other part of London and were therefore seen by the LDDC as a major asset to be saved, enhanced and promoted.
Soon after it came into existence in 1981 the LDDC decided to halt the in-filling of the docks and, whilst recognising that new development might include building into the docks, the policy was established that wholesale in-filling would no longer be tolerated. The waters of the docks would be retained as an integral part of the area's regeneration. This policy was symptomatic of the LDDC's general approach, which was to recognise the positive qualities of Docklands and to engender a positive attitude towards the area. The LDDC sought to recreate a pride in the area previously dismissed as London's backyard where there was nothing of any quality.
While the potential of the river to provide an attractive setting for new development was acknowledged its value to London was virtually ignored. The policy of driving continuous riverside access along its banks, hastened the demise of commercial wharfs their use being incompatible with safe public access. The LDDC initially resisted the loss of viable wharfs. However following a public inquiry to consider an appeal against a refusal for the change of use, to residential, of a commercial wharf on the west side of the Isle of Dogs the Department of the Environment's inspector granted approval (Sufferance Wharf granted on appeal May 1985). This precedent was to have a significant impact on the way in which similar sites were to develop.
The Transport Network
The closure of the Docks highlighted the area's inaccessibility from the rest of London. Although on the door-step of the City of London, the area was perceived to be and actually was very difficult to get to. The improvement of public transport became the LDDC's first priority. Bus routes connecting the area with London Underground and mainline stations were introduced with subsidies from the LDDC. This was followed by the promotion of the Docklands Light Railway, opened in 1987, between Tower Hill, Island Gardens and Stratford which provided the initial impetus for the regeneration of the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone. Subsequently the line was extended to serve Bank to the west and Beckton to the east and construction is now underway on the link to Lewisham via Greenwich for completion in January 2000.
Major improvements for vehicular access to and within Docklands was universally accepted as a priority. Even the GLC acknowledged that for the area to undergo successful economic regeneration, major improvements by way of new road building was essential. Whilst the GLC never got as far as building them, the Docklands Highways which were opened in May 1993 effectively achieved what the GLC had sought - a series of major linked roads dramatically improving access to and within Docklands as originally conceived in the mid-1970's. In surveying the area, the alignments chosen for the roads were inevitable. For the most part they avoided built-up areas, being routed through vacant and derelict land and in the one location where a road through an already established residential area was necessary, in Limehouse, the road was built underground. Finally the Jubilee Line Extension due to open in 1998 will provide London Docklands with the public transport and road infrastructure to match the City and West End.
The Enterprise Zone
It was a key part of Government and LDDC policy to create jobs by encouraging private investment into an area which had not benefited from such investment for many decades. The Enterprise Zone (EZ) was intended to draw investment into Docklands away from London's more prosperous areas. It was recognised that special measures had to be taken if funds then being attracted to green field developments, to the New Towns and to the prosperous provincial towns of south east England were to be diverted to the East End. The Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone was designated in April 1982 and lasted for ten years. There were no planning controls (with minor exceptions), rates (property taxes) were paid by Government and capital investments could be written off against a company's tax liability. Whilst the EZ got off to a slow start, the achievements over that ten year period, including the first phase of Canary Wharf, were, by any standards, exceptional.
Despite the lack of normal planning control the LDDC inherited much of the vacant land within the EZ and could therefore use its land ownership powers in directing development. Gordon Cullen was commissioned to assess the Isle of Dogs and together with the LDDC prepared design guidelines for the area. It was this guide together with development briefs for individual sites that the LDDC used to encourage and direct investment. At the outset is was virtually impossible to get any private investment but slowly, as the perception of the area started to change and as access and public transport improved, tentative developments were proposed. The first phase of regeneration on the Isle of Dogs that can be seen in Millharbour and Mastmaker Road was the result. The success of this and the start of construction of the DLR prompted the second phase of development along Marsh Wall at South Quay in the mid-1980's by which time the proposals for Canary Wharf were emerging.
Industry and Employment
By 1981 the economic decline of the docks had impacted upon the whole of the area's economy. While many firms had survived and, indeed, survive today, others operated on a marginal existence and soon succumbed to the inevitable. While the LDDC was keen that existing firms should not be forced out, many benefited from the sale of freehold and leasehold properties and were able to relocate to better serviced sites elsewhere. It was important to keep as many jobs in the area as possible and the LDDC promoted a large (50 acres) new industrial park just north of the UDA at Cody Road which was well serviced and allowed Docklands firms which wanted to relocate to stay in the East End. However, bit by bit the traditional industrial base of the area declined. The one significant industrial area remaining, on the riverside in Silvertown, despite both public and private investment over the years, and significant investment by a number of businesses, continues to lose jobs over all.
The LDDC was keen to widen the employment opportunities available in the area. In addition to the new jobs being brought into Docklands through commercial developments mainly centred on the Isle of Dogs, London Bridge City and the western part of Wapping, providing professional and clerical jobs, the LDDC also encouraged and supported industrial relocation into the area notably, newspaper printing and communications to underpin and diversify the area's economy. This was supported by the LDDC's education and training initiatives entered in to with the local authorities, businesses and developers.
Before 1981 the major house builders concentrated their development activities beyond the inner city in the suburbs, beyond the green belt and in the provinces. With the encouragement of Government and the LDDC they took a very tentative step into the Metropolis and commenced building houses for sale in Beckton in mid 1981. To the surprise of many, and the relief of the builders and the LDDC, the houses were an instant success. With the further encouragement of the LDDC this led the house builders to test the market in what were perceived to be more difficult areas, the Surrey Docks, the Isle of Dogs and finally Wapping. Such was the success of these ventures that the house builders were encouraged to stay and acquire their own sites for development so maintaining the momentum of regeneration. House builders on LDDC land had to give priority to local residents and insure that initially 40% of new housing was affordable to people on average wages.
More than 21,600 homes have been built over the last 16 years which have dramatically increased the diversity of tenure of the stock available. Prior to 1981, to "move up" you had to 'move out" and the economically active and financially prosperous families and individuals left the area. The choice of housing in Docklands was a council flat or a council flat!
Now more than 43% of the housing stock is in owner occupation as well as a sizeable portion managed by Housing Associations. On sites previously owned by the LDDC, priority was given to tenants of the Docklands boroughs to buy new homes at affordable prices (more than 50% of people moving into Docklands since 1981 have relocated from elsewhere in Newham, Southwark and Tower Hamlets). The vacated council properties have been re-let to families on the councils' waiting lists. Additionally, the LDDC has funded the refurbishment of a large part of the existing local authority owned housing stock most in need, investing £43 million to improve 8,000 units.
The vacant l9th century warehouses of Bermondsey, Wapping and the Isle of Dogs have played an important role in the repopulation of Docklands and provided beneficial uses for redundant buildings. Pioneering initiatives, particularly in Limehouse, showed the potential of these fine buildings but early developments were not universally successful. Then, through the LDDC's introduction of the major house builders to the older areas of Docklands, the momentum gathered pace and 'warehouse conversions" entered the vocabulary of fashionable estate agents.
The Creation of Viable Communities
To support these key strategies priority has been given to community development with an emphasis on education and training. New schools and colleges have been built and a university campus is being planned. Facilities for training and education have been enhanced and funding for new initiatives has been given. The fruits of this investment are now beginning to emerge with the staying on rate for pupils in Tower Hamlets after the age of 16 leaping from 39% to 70% between 1989 and 1993.
The LDDC's objective was the regeneration of the half dozen or so city districts which make up the UDA. As well as jobs, housing and schools, these areas needed shops, health care, recreation and cultural amenities. Each of the key development areas of Docklands now has a new shopping centre opened in the last 15 years; in addition a brand new hypermarket, serving a large part of East London, opened in Beckton in 1993.
About 12% of the developed part of the UDA is public open space including a comprehensive network of walkways providing more than 24km (15 miles) of waterside access. In addition the retained docks and canals make up a further 13% of the UDA. More than 150,000 trees have been planted as part of the Corporation's continuing programme of landscape works. The LDDC has developed water sports and recreation centres in Wapping, on the Isle of Dogs, in the Surrey Docks and in the Royal Docks. Health centres have been built or expanded and there has been an active programme of public arts sponsorship. There are urban farms in the Surrey Docks, on the Isle of Dogs (Mudchute) and at Beckton, the latter two areas having large newly built riding schools and stables as well.
Consultation and Participation
Much has been written about the extent to which regeneration in Docklands has benefited the original residents and arguments will continue as to whether if carried out differently the result would have been better. We will never know the answer to this. What we do know however is that the physical and social infrastructure now in Docklands matches any in London. In seeing through the programme we have striven to ensure that improvements were not just imposed but that they reflected the expressed wishes of the people of Docklands. To insure that local people had good access to the IDDC, local offices were set up during the critical period from 1985 to 1991 when much of the detailed planning and development work was carried out at a local level. This access by the local people often showed that there was a difference of opinion between the local residents as to the best course of action. As a result of the consultation carried out by LDDC planners road schemes have been altered or scrapped and developments have been completely redesigned in response to local concerns. The refurbishment of housing estates by the LDDC has been prioritised by the local authorities and carried out to the wishes of the residents. The LDDC has established and maintained liaison with residents' and community groups during this process to maximise the opportunities for them to benefit. Clinics, community centres, schools and colleges, nurseries, creches and youth clubs have been built with funding from the LDDC. In addition training and employment initiatives have been developed by the LDDC in partnership with the local authorities and local businesses.
With the exception of the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone which affected about 11 % of the area of Docklands between 1982 and 1992 the Town and Country Planning Acts apply to the Urban Development Area as they do to the rest of the country. The LDDC agreed a code of consultation with the three Docklands boroughs originally allowing two weeks to comment on planning applications. In 1989 this was increased to three weeks for Tower Hamlets and extended to Southwark and Newham in 1991. In addition public notices in local newspapers, site notices and letters to nearby residents and businesses are used to publicise planning applications. All objections are considered thoroughly and frequently result in changes being made to submitted schemes. The LDDC is subject to the scrutiny of the local Government Ombudsman. Despite the number of often large and complex planning applications processed by the LDDC, only once has the Ombudsman found grounds for criticism; and then not concerning approval of an office block or private housing development but a new local health centre.
Having established the credibility of the Docklands as a viable, even desirable district of London, the LDDC were able to impose increasingly higher design standards. While it was always important to strike a balance between a theoretical architectural "ideal" and the developer's "bottom line', as the pace of development gathered momentum, investors began to realise the added value that design and quality of specification could yield.
The LDDC's aim is the creation of coherent and diverse yet distinct and identifiable districts similar to those which constitute other metropolitan areas. This is achieved through the preparation of development frameworks, design briefs and a positive approach to development control. The design of a clearly defined public realm is critically important to our comprehension of the city; it helps orientation, creates a "sense of place" and greatly assists our enjoyment of cities. It is important that spaces are designed to create a focus or to enable a "change of pace" from the hectic activity adjoining a railway station to the quiet solitude of a city park or square for example.
The single characteristic which is common to all established city areas is that they have achieved a level of complexity which makes them interesting and enlightening places to be. To a great extent such complexity can only be established over time, as the city absorbs the diverse characteristics of its citizens and adapts to their changing desires and aspirations. In remaining open to different development possibilities the LDDC has sought to create an environment where such complexity can grow. However, in the regeneration of large areas of vacant land order rather than chaos is essential. This can be assisted by ensuring that by planning and design, the buildings and the spaces created recognise their context. The positive aspects of the area's character should be acknowledged and enhanced, thus avoiding anonymity. Orientation is provided by the introduction or protection of landmarks, and the creation of a hierarchy of routes and spaces within an overall landscape strategy. The ordering of space and its definition by buildings, landscape and other such devices becomes a key objective.
A continuity and harmony of scale and the controlled use of materials become the means by which a civilised cityscape is achieved. The LDDC has sought to ensure that frontages at street level contribute interest, particularly in predominantly commercial districts where as far as possible blank facades are avoided.
The LDDC considers that the context is the starting point. An understanding of the constraints and opportunities has a fundamental bearing on the design solution; the site configuration, ownership, boundaries, street layout, open spaces, adjoining buildings and the site's orientation, all must be considered. The assessment starts with what and who is there and not with a vacuum; design solutions must address the relevant community and social issues. In some instances, however, little or no context exists or that which does is inappropriate for whatever reason. In those circumstances the development of a public realm, the streets and spaces, become the starting point.
Continuity is essential in the regeneration of such a large and complex area; development must enable evolution so that lessons that have been learnt can be applied and built upon. The encouragement of 'cohesion" and the ambition for betterment seem critical.
Diversity is a vital ingredient of well established urban areas both in terms of land uses and building types. Whilst it is important that amenity is protected, the LDDC has fostered the development of different land uses and allowed their interrelationship to develop. However, at the same time, the context should not impose constraints on the planners' views over the avoidance of historic pastiche, thereby resulting in loss of diversity in building forms.
Accessibility should be both spatially and visually continuous and, above all, well ordered. Orientation is a result of this. Landmarks and spatial hierarchies reinforce systems rather than create them. A coherent system is also a safe one. Accessibility is critically important not merely in terms of providing public and private transport but also in recognising the differing needs of the citizens, who should feel part of their neighbourhood.
Intensity of development distinguishes the city from the suburb. Town planning legislation and theory has sought to reduce the densities at which residential and commercial development is allowed. While this has enabled the worst consequences of over crowding and "town cramming" to be avoided, such policies have resulted in the creation of waste space in the city and the dilution of urban character. Land is becoming increasingly scarce and it is essential that the land use of our cities is optimised. As a consequence of increasing the intensity of urban development we have the opportunity to enhance the prospects for locally based shops, restaurants and recreational facilities which can serve larger populations, reduce the necessity of journeys by car and improve the viability of public transport.
Flexibility is important to ensure that cities are able to accommodate new uses and its buildings and spaces can be physically adapted to meet new demands, supported by flexible planning and control policies. Such flexibility contributes to the continuous evolution of the city while minimising interruption and disturbance.
Much of Docklands is dominated by areas of water. The scale of these spaces, both river and docks, creates a conflict between the fronts and backs of buildings. The scale of development and the continuity of the design vocabulary and materials can assist in overcoming this. Lighting, advertising and signage can make a positive contribution to both our understanding and enjoyment of urban areas but control and order within the given context is essential if confusion and chaos is to be avoided. There exists a frontage (a quasi street) on the docksides of equal importance to the actual streetscape. Architects have encountered difficulties on these sites between docks and roads in adequately addressing both "frontages". As a result car parking wastelands sometimes adjoining the road in order that a quasi "street frontage" is created on the quayside. Elsewhere, car parking has been located under buildings, which has led to dead frontages at ground level on both street and quay relieved only by ventilation grilles. One of the special features of Docklands urban design must therefore be the recognition that both the street and the quaysides have to be better understood and given equal respect by designers.
These issues were the subject of a particular study in the development framework plans prepared in the 1980's for the Royal Docks. The work which sought to learn from the early developments on the isle of Dogs, around the Millwall and West India Docks, formed the basis of the infrastructure built by the LDDC to support the subsequent development. The high quality landscape and transport infrastructure in the Royal Docks underlined the LDDC's commitment to securing the best possible standards in the new development it sought to attract there.
To assist and inform people wanting to make planning applications the LDDC has published a series of design guidelines. These provide a unified approach to a series of key issues and are applicable across the whole of the UDA. The topics were selected on the basis of the frequency of enquiries received and the appropriateness of a design guideline document to communicate the LDDC's advice. The first publication produced provided a check list for architects designing for access and mobility to and within buildings. Subsequent publications provided guidance to householders on altering and extending their homes in order to protect the character of their neighbourhood; to retailers on shopfront design to co-ordinate and avoid clutter and unsightly street frontages; and to advertising agents on signage and advertising which gives clear guidance as to when advertising hoardings may be acceptable and when they are not. The series was completed by guidelines devoted to two key areas of urban design -landscape and waterfront design.
Whilst the character of new development in Docklands has reinforced the area's urban context, the diversification of land uses has been encouraged, providing a mix of uses across the area, locating commercial, industrial and residential developments in close proximity to each other. The strategy for Docklands is focused on the communities that exist there and is set out in the development frameworks prepared by the LDDC for each of the major development areas within the UDA. An important component in the LDDC's land use strategy has been open space. Approximately 13 per cent of the area of London Docklands is water. The 12 per cent of the land area that is open space, includes a network of waterside walkways which apart from creating safe routes within the UDA enable the full amenity of the Thames and the docks to be appreciated.
As noted earlier, in 1981 Docklands was dominated by derelict and vacant land and enclosed water areas which remained after the closure of the docks in East London, through the 1960's and 1970's. Many of the buildings associated with the docks had been demolished at the time of their closure and many of the housing areas redeveloped during the 1950's and 1960's featured high rise blocks of flats. The UDA was largely devoid of environmental quality and visual coherence. Even the remaining areas of the docks and riverside wharfs were inaccessible and the remnants of nineteenth century buildings were largely abandoned and neglected.
The LDDC sought to provide the infrastructure and create an environment in which investment would be encouraged. While the LDDC acquired or inherited much of the vacated land, the majority of building would be undertaken by private investors. The task of the LDDC's landscape strategy was, therefore, twofold. Firstly, it had to significantly enhance the environmental quality of Docklands by landscaping, the refurbishment of key buildings and other environmental improvements. Secondly, the creation of new parks, the enhancement of existing open spaces and the creation of pedestrian and cycle routes to provide access principally to the river and the docks for the first time took priority.
The importance of environmental quality is fundamental to the successful regeneration of Docklands. Whilst inevitably some of the new development has fallen short of the architectural standard of the best of Docklands' new buildings, the landscaping has achieved a consistently good quality. The LDDC has maintained a policy, originally set out in 1982, of securing high quality landscaping, both in the infrastructure work it has carried out and in demanding that landscaping is given proper and detailed consideration as part of all planning applications. This is a unique aspect of the LDDC's approach to regeneration.
While the development of Canary Wharf had the single most significant impact on the regeneration of Docklands across the board, it had a particularly crucial role in establishing standards of landscape quality. The design, specification, construction and maintenance of the public realm at Canary Wharf is unmatched by any commercial development in this country and it has lent considerable support for the initiatives of the LDDC to promote a high standard of landscape design throughout Docklands. The object of the LDDC's landscape strategy was to co-ordinate and unify the design of the UDA. It sought to provide physical and visual linkages within and across the area. One of the dominant visual characteristics of Docklands in 1981 was panoramic views across vacant land. In recognising that many of these vistas would be obscured with the development of the area, the LDDC sought to identify key vistas to existing landmarks and explore new opportunities for the creation of new landmarks which would provide visual links and assist orientation as new development proceeded.
The landscape strategy sought to maximise the importance of the Thames to Docklands by establishing links to it and along its banks and by protecting or creating visual links from one side of the river to the other. View corridors were established focused on key buildings including the church towers of St. George in the East, St. Anne's Limehouse, All Saints Poplar and St. Mark's Silvertown. Tower Bridge, Stave Hill in the Surrey Docks and the Beckton Alps are also important landmarks and aid orientation. The single most dominant landmark in Docklands is of course the Canary Wharf tower which provides visual links and orientation with the whole of the UDA both north and south of the river and beyond and gives an identity to Docklands. The landscape strategy also identifies a number of local landmarks which provide a focus and identity to individual communities. The tower of St. John's in Wapping is a good example of such a landmark.
The landscaping infrastructure created the context in which new development would be designed. As the LDDC believed that the successful regeneration of the area would be dependent upon the achievement of quality in design, it sought to raise standards in its infrastructure works that would give the lead to the development that followed. Furthermore a strong landscape infrastructure would assist in achieving the coherence that the area previously lacked.
All open space should have a recognisable purpose, clearly defined in the landscape design. The landscape can contribute positively to the social, communal and commercial life of Docklands by establishing an attractive and healthy living and working environment which caters for an appropriate and relevant range of outdoor activities. Provision might be made, for example, for the varying requirements of different age groups ranging from noisy play for the very young to contemplative sitting for the elderly.
Docklands' existing parks, churchyards and other open spaces have been supplemented by a number of new public gardens laid out by the LDDC. These include Kings Wharf and Rectory Gardens in Limehouse, Cherry Gardens in Bermondsey and Millwall Dock Old Entrance, St John's Park, and Deards on the Isle of Dogs. In addition a number of temporary open spaces have been made permanent notably Wapping Green and a new park for the East End is being laid out in Silvertown by the river at the Thames Barrier.
Although in many cases the existing parks had quality and character, they generally needed substantial improvement. The LDDC has promoted refurbishment of a number of parks with the aim to provide a balanced range of facilities to cater for as many sections of the community as possible. Where these uses are not compatible with each other they must be accommodated separately. In Wapping, for example, several local parks have been refurbished with this principle in mind. St Johns Churchyard has been designed as a quiet secluded open space where people can sit and relax; Wapping Gardens provides a range of facilities for young children and their parents, and Waterside Gardens includes generous seating to take advantage of the riverside location.
Further east the LDDC based its development framework for the Royal Docks on a comprehensive landscape infrastructure. Built during the late 1980's and early 1990's the parks, landscaped corridors and dock side areas provided a high quality context for the area's principal development sites. The emphasis on quality reinforced the view that to optimise the potential of the huge sites adjoining the Royal Victoria and the Royal Albert Docks the highest standards of development should be sought.
Docklands is largely urban and it is appropriate that the landscape should reflect and strengthen this character. Emphasis is placed on hard landscape, using good quality materials which are carefully and robustly detailed. It is of paramount importance that the public realm initially achieves a consistent identity through the use of related materials and site furniture, so that adjacent sites are compatible with each other. The LDDC therefore established a preferred vocabulary of materials and details to guide rather than to be prescriptive. The LDDC produced "Landscape Design Guidelines" to assist developers and their designers in the preparation of schemes which respect the special characteristics of Docklands.
The LDDC recognises the aesthetic and physical value of planting. Due to the largely urban character of Docklands, the opportunities for extensive soft landscape treatment are relatively few and need to be maximised. Within the urban context, however, there are many opportunities for planting which can be extensively used to structure and furnish the area.
The LDDC promotes ecological parks such as those at Stave Hill in the Surrey Docks and on the Blackwall Peninsula on the River Lea and at East India Dock Basin. It also promotes and encourages the planting of native species to create areas of woodland where the opportunity arises, principally on road verges and embankments. In general, it is important that the urban character of Docklands is recognised, although 'Rus in Urbe' is encouraged where a softer approach is justified. Parts of Surrey Docks and Beckton, where development is of comparatively low density, are appropriate for this treatment.
The LDDC is opposed to the use of tropical hardwoods from non-renewable resources and to the exploitation of wetlands for peat extraction. Developers are urged to use hardwoods only from sustainable sources and to use substitutes for peat in horticultural works. Where possible, the use of home-grown timber is encouraged.
Water and the Waterside
Docklands is defined and dominated by water; it forms the most important landscape element. The LDDC has a policy for the provision of public access to the water's edge wherever possible and is establishing comprehensive pedestrian networks through dockside and riverside landscape projects. Sites which front the water are generally expected to be accessible to the public and to respect the range of waterside materials and details established by the LDDC. It is policy that dock and river related artefacts should be retained wherever feasible and incorporated into the landscape.
The LDDC has always been committed to opening up the waterside to the public, so that everyone can enjoy this tremendous asset. In 1981 only about 2.55 km (1.6 miles) of public access to the waterside was available in Docklands. This had increased to 28 km (17.5 miles) by mid 1997. Much experience has been gained about the design of the waterside in terms of landscape, built form and design for safety in discussion with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. This collective experience is reflected in the guidelines which will help to ensure a waterside environment of the highest quality throughout Docklands.
Notwithstanding its policy on public access to the waterside, the LDDC is aware that such access is not compatible with many commercial uses of wharves. The policy is thus implemented only in areas not used for industrial purposes, where public access would be unsafe, and is not intended to frustrate or otherwise blight such uses.
The area covered by the UDA includes a number of quite distinct and established districts. In recognition of this the LDDC has adopted a policy of preparing separate strategies for each of the principal development areas within the UDA. A total of 15 development strategies have been prepared for areas such as Limehouse, Wapping, the Surrey Docks, Greenland and South Docks, Hay's Wharf (London Bridge City), Leamouth and for the Royal Docks, using both external consultants and in-house staff. These, unlike many earlier Docklands studies, developed from the basis of what was there. These development strategies elaborate the LDDC's strategic objectives and are aimed at creating distinct communities based upon the area's historic and geographical characteristics. The remaining buildings of quality have been recognised and cherished. For example, grants have been provided for the refurbishment of Hawksmoor's two magnificent churches, St. George-in-the-East and St. Anne's, for the Grade 1 building in Western Dock known as the Skin Floor (Tobacco Dock) and for many more. New Conservation Areas have been designated.
The fundamental planning policies for Docklands were set out in the LDDC's 198/82 Annual Report which indicated opportunities for new housing developments and employment and the major highways and rail infrastructure necessary to serve the area. The LDDC's plan included, of course, the Enterprise Zone which inevitably, as was the intention, attracted new businesses. While this area represented only 11 % of the UDA, such has been its dramatic success, that it has drawn most of the attention. During its designation the LDDC responded flexibly, within the spirit of the Enterprise Zone scheme and regeneration goals, to the major opportunities offered by developments such as Canary Wharf.
The LDDC's aim to create districts of individual character has been achieved by adopting a flexible and responsive attitude to development opportunities over the more than 20 year projected timescale for the regeneration of Docklands. This approach is crucial to accommodate the changes which will necessarily occur over such a period of time as the area develops.
When they were prepared Area Development Frameworks were widely publicised locally and public exhibitions mounted to explain the LDDC's ideas. They had three main functions:
(i) to inform people who live and work in the area that the LDDC has considered the future development and completion of the area in a comprehensive manner, and to provide an opportunity for those with an interest to comment on the LDDC's strategy;
(ii) to inform future investors, both developers and people who are considering moving to the area, of the LDDC's aspirations for the area; thus providing assurance and continuity.
(iii) to provide a clear statement of the LDDC's policies for the regeneration of the area as a comprehensive and coherent input into the statutory planning process which remained the responsibility of the borough councils.
Frameworks were used by the LDDC to promote regeneration and were not proscriptive. They sought to raise the profile of the area concerned and generate investment interest by illustrating possibilities rather than making precise proposals. The frameworks provided broad development guidelines which may, where appropriate, be followed up with urban design studies and development briefs for specific areas and individual sites. At this stage the concerns expressed during the consultation process were addressed and ideas put forward by local residents and businesses considered.
The guidelines and objectives built upon the established character of the area represented by major buildings, landscapes and street patterns.
Landowners, whose sites are specifically referred to within the document, were notified that the Framework was being prepared and provided with the extract specific to their ownership prior to publication. Comments, when received, were therefore incorporated as necessary.
The regeneration of such a large and diverse urban area, significant parts of which are already settled, required a sensitive approach. A large number of sites in Docklands exist within established or emerging residential and commercial areas where the LDDC has sought to consolidate and enhance the area's visual quality. New building is necessary to mend and extend the existing urban grain, much of which had been destroyed by wartime bombing and subsequent comprehensive redevelopment during the two decades from 1945. More than fifty detailed studies have been carried out to establish the opportunities for development and environmental enhancement for specific areas within the UDA.
Circumstances vary considerably, and whereas some infill sites need to be developed to reinforce building lines and will be constrained by the height and massing of adjoining properties, other sites offer the opportunity to be developed to provide focus and orIentation. This does not normally mean that excessive levels of development are supported in such locations, but that the site offers the opportunity for a distinct design solution, for example to acknowledge an important gateway or to create a local landmark. The LDDC has sought to ensure that where such opportunities arise new development enhances its setting and can be properly integrated with adjoining, existing and future developments. Urban design studies were required to be prepared prior to detailed building design commencing to confirm and justify the site's suitability for a particular design approach. These studies explore opportunities for the creation or enhancement of the public realm within and in the proximity of the development site, as well as establishing clear architectural guidelines.
The successful long-term regeneration of Docklands must include an emphasis on the achievement of a high standard of design in all development projects. This is easier where the LDDC's commissioned work directly or where it is the landowner, but applies to all development. It required the LDDC to take every opportunity to create a culture in which design was see to be an important ingredient in the overall regeneration strategy.
The decline of East London's economy which accompanied the closure of the docks contributed to the image of the area as being neglected and down at heel. Although the area contained many fine buildings, the area was dismissed as lacking in any quality at all. By the mid1960s, large areas of 19th century housing had been cleared as part of the Government's slum clearance programme which was accompanied by the development of large new public housing estates often designed around tower blocks and universally providing flats in place of the houses with gardens that they replaced. It is true that the houses that were demolished lacked many of the basic amenities that modern housing should provide but similar housing elsewhere in London, particularly to the west, was not destroyed and in fact now has been upgraded with improved and modern amenities to provide extremely desirable accommodation much sought after by London's wealthier residents.
In a similar way the major buildings of the East End including the huge l9th century warehouse buildings of the dockyard areas were dismissed by historians and the architectural establishment of not having any quality or being of any importance. As a consequence and regrettably many fine ranges of warehouses were lost during the 1960s and 1970s.
It was against this background that the task of regeneration given to the LDDC must be seen. Not only had the area been dismissed as one of virtually irreversible economic decline, it was also viewed of having nothing of quality within it. As a result many potential investors and indeed the existing local authorities, set their sights extremely low when considering appropriate design standards for new development in the area. By contrast the LDDC took the view that if permanent regeneration was to be achieved design and environmental standards would need to be raised to compete with those established elsewhere in the capital. Indeed, it is the LDDC's aim to surpass those design standards and to achieve a degree of excellence which set the area apart from neighbouring and competing districts.
It must be remembered, however, that such aspirations had to be balanced against the need to firstly establish and then maintain the momentum of development. Design quality is not the only criteria against which proposals need to be judged and the LDDC's wider objectives to secure social, economic and physical regeneration had to be considered as well.
The LDDC therefore had to set new design standards and encourage, and sometimes force, investors to meet them. There are three ways in which the LDDC was able to achieve this:
Although it was Government policy that the majority of new development within the UDA would be funded by private investment, the LDDC was charged with the task of creating a physical environment which would create the right setting to encourage such investment. This involved the construction of transport and community infrastructure where the LDDC as the commissioning body could appoint the best architects and designers. For example, Richard Rogers, John Outram and Nicholas Grimshaw, have all been commissioned by the LDDC to design pumping stations. Other public buildings including nursery schools, district administrative buildings, watersports centres and youth clubs have been built by the LDDC to the designs of a number of eminent architects, including Tchaik Chassay, Kit Allsop and Michael Squire.
A good example of the importance that quality design has played in the regeneration of London Docklands is the programme of design commissions that was arranged by the LDDC for a series of seven bridges to improve pedestrian linkages within the Docklands area.
Although the LDDC did not own all of the land within the UDA, a substantial part of the former dock estate and other lands held in public ownership were vested in the LDDC. While it was not intended that much of this land would be developed by the LDDC directly, the LDDC was able to determine the terms of its disposal. By this process the LDDC could ensure that the design intentions of a prospective developer were acceptable and then, through a legal agreement, require them to build the approved scheme within a fixed period of time.
Much of the land so disposed of has been developed for residential use and it has been a priority of the LDDC to encourage private house building in the area previously dominated by local authority housing. To achieve this two hurdles had to be overcome. Firstly, before 1981 very few of Britain's major house builders had built in the inner city. Their reputations had been established by development on green field sites or in and around new or expanding provincial towns. Secondly, they did not normally employ the services of architects, relying upon their own in-house teams of building designers. The LDDC therefore had to demonstrate not only the commercial advantages of developing houses for sale within Docklands but also the importance of achieving an appropriate quality of design. This was done by the LDDC directly commissioning outline designs for some of its key sites from leading firms of architects, including MacCormack, Jamieson & Prichard, Darbourne & Dark and Jeremy Dixon. These schemes set the standard which the LDDC encouraged the house builders to follow.
Whilst the LDDC is obliged to achieve market value in the sale of its land it does, as well, consider the quality of the scheme design in its assessment. The normal process of site disposal therefore is to seek competitive submissions from a number of house builders for each of its sites.
Those submissions are then assessed on the basis of a financial bid and design quality. If satisfactory designs are accompanied by acceptable financial bids, the way is clear to enter into a development agreement with that company. If, however, a high financial bid is accompanied by a poor architectural scheme the LDDC has the option of either retendering the site or requiring the developer to provide a new design which may result in a different architect being appointed.
While the responsibilities of preparing statutory plans for the Docklands area remains with the local authorities, the function of development control is administered by the LDDC. This means that all building proposals requiring planning consent within the UDA have to be submitted to and approved by the LDDC. These controls are no different from those of any other local planning authority elsewhere in the country and the ability of the LDDC to dictate design standards is limited. They do however provide an essential control over the general quality of development being promoted within Docklands. In addition the planning frameworks for the main development areas and the design guides provide information and guidance to developers and their architects. Through discussion and encouragement the LDDC is able to persuade developers to improve the quality of their design submissions. This task became easier as time passed as not only did developers understand the design requirements of the LDDC but they could also see the success of other schemes already completed and the added value that good design achieves. An appreciation of the importance of design can also be seen in the way in which the LDDC encouraged the protection and enhancement of its most important buildings and districts. Furthermore, the LDDC does not believe that the protection and refurbishment of buildings should be confined only to those of historic and architectural value. A large part of the area's stock of public housing had lacked proper management and maintenance. The LDDC therefore established programmes with the three Dockland's Boroughs, the owners of that housing, to undertake refurbishment of the estates on a prioritised basis. While these works concentrated on the refurbishment of the buildings and the enhancement of their setting through improved landscaping, the objective has also been to make buildings more efficient. Poor standards of heat insulation were common in the existing stock of council flats. The priority has been to substantially improve this through refurbishment. Average fuel savings of up to 25% have been achieved. The significance of this level of savings to people on low incomes is, of course, much greater than for middle income or wealthier families. Additionally, through discussions with the local authorities and tenants organisations, improvement to estate management has also been secured.
As has been noted the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone which was set up in 1982 and lasted for 10 years was a special case. Normal planning controls were lifted, therefore the LDDC as the local planning authority had very limited control over design quality. There were some limited exceptions where "Enterprise Zone Consent' was required. "Sensitive Sub-Zones' were established around the perimeter of the area to protect the amenity of adjoining residential areas and "Highway Safeguarding Zones" were identified to enable road improvements to proceed. "Bad neighbour" uses required permission as did buildings more than 120 feet (36.6m) high. These controls were rather modest and where it was not the landowner the LDDC had to rely on its powers of persuasion to convince developers of the advantages of good design.
Urban Design Advisory Group
In order to underline the importance the LDDC attaches to securing good quality design, a panel of eminent architects and other designers with an interest in the urban environment were appointed to advise the LDDC on design matters. The Group meet on a regular basis throughout the year to consider key projects at critical stages in their design development. In addition, members of the panel are co-opted to advise on major schemes such as the West Silvertown Urban Village and the Exhibition Centre at Royal Victoria Dock. Members of the Group also participate in the assessment of the LDDC's design competitions. Major schemes on prominent sites are also considered for reference to the Royal Fine Art Commission with which the LDDC has established a good working relationship. However, unlike the Urban Design Advisory Group, the Commission provides more formal advice on matters of design. The LDDC therefore sees the roles of these two Groups as being complementary to each other with the Advisory Group providing guidance on general design matters and preliminary advice to developers and their architects while the Royal Fine Art Commission focuses on schemes of regional significance offering formal advice to the LDDC during the process of consultation which follows submission of a planning application.
The regeneration of London Docklands was initiated primarily for economic and social reasons but it created a unique opportunity to conserve the architectural heritage of a large part of London's East End, to invigorate the historic urban fabric with new activity, and to enhance the character and appearance of those areas of special architectural interest. The area had been devastated by neglect and by the demolition of many of the buildings which had served the docks and wharfs of the Port of London. The buildings that survived represented an enormous task if they were to be saved for posterity as a record of the 'Greatest Port in the World".
From the outset the LDDC took the view that the surviving areas of architectural and historic interest should be preserved and integrated into the massive programme of investment so as to contribute to the permanent regeneration of the area and to provide a continuing link between the past and the future. It was not always easy to convince the owners of derelict buildings that their property must be preserved. However, through a combination of grants and legal agreements resulting from planning permissions granted for conversion and change of use, the LDDC has ensured that the vast majority of Docklands' surviving historic buildings have been saved. The designation of conservation areas has ensured a stable planning environment and allowed landowners and developers to have confidence and reasonable certainty of the status of their land or buildings. Equally important, they have provided an assurance to the public and to the local communities that such areas will be protected and that appropriate environmental improvements will be undertaken.
As well as large tracts of derelict land and water the LDDC also inherited a significant number of listed buildings including the massive Grade I listed Georgian warehouses on the north quay of the West India Docks. More than £20 million was invested in a major programme of works to secure the structural stability of these buildings and to protect them from further decay until new beneficial uses could be found.
All of the 18 conservation areas in London Docklands contain groups of buildings and associated landscape and waterscape of architectural, historic and environmental interest. Six of the designated areas have been classified as being of national significance, having been identified by the Government as being of .outstanding' architectural or historic interest. Much of the older areas in Docklands such as Wapping, Limehouse, Bermondsey and Rotherhithe are in fact protected by being included within conservation areas. Thus the regeneration which has taken place in those areas has been conservation led.
The designation of conservation areas has provided the means of retaining the character of the historic areas and of ensuring that new buildings within those areas respect their surroundings. However, the fact that an area within Docklands has been designated as a conservation area does not mean that changes have not been permitted. It does however mean that the area's special character has been recognised and that any proposals for new buildings or the demolition of non-listed buildings must comply with environmental objectives. New buildings and alterations and extensions to existing buildings within Docklands' conservation areas have had to be of a high standard of design and have to make a positive contribution to the architectural character of the area. They need not necessarily be designed as pastiche, though that may sometimes be appropriate. On the contrary the interest and vitality which modern architecture can contribute is often welcomed. Far from being discouraged, there have been many cases where new buildings have been encouraged as a means of filling gaps in street frontages, completing the enclosure of urban spaces and helping to eradicate dereliction.
Existing buildings which are not in themselves 'listed' or individually protected often contribute to the overall character and environment of Docklands' conservation areas. The LDDC has accepted that protection of such buildings is most important and as the local planning authority is able to ensure that such buildings are not demolished. The LDDC is able to help with repairs to unlisted buildings within conservation areas by offering grants. Additionally the LDDC has carried out environmental improvements in conservation areas such as landscaping and the enhancement of roads.
The conservation of Docklands' architectural heritage has been accepted as a key part of the LDDC's regeneration strategy. It has been seen as playing a major constructive role in its regeneration policies and programmes. The preservation and enhancement of the conservation areas has ensured that the regeneration process has been woven into the existing urban fabric to enrich the architectural heritage for future generations.
Since 1981 and as a result of the LDDC's success the population of London Docklands has increased from 39,400 to more than 80,000 and the number of jobs has risen from 27,200 to 72,000. 21,600 new dwellings have been built and 2.3 million sq. meters of new commercial buildings have been completed, allowing the number of businesses to increase from 1,000 to 2,450. Public investment of £1.799 billion has generated £6.5 billion of private investment. However the regeneration of Docklands is far from complete. Despite the massive improvement that can be witnessed to date it will take a generation for the full potential of the area to be realised and all of the dereliction and decay eliminated.
The successful regeneration of a large urban area such as Docklands not only requires substantial levels of public and private investment, improved education and training and employment prospects, it also requires an improved environmental quality. The achievement of high standards of design is intended to result in residents and workers taking greater pride in their neighbourhood. If an area is dismissed as second rate, warranting only poor design standards, this will have a negative impact on other aspects of community life. The challenge of regeneration has been to raise the aspirations of the community as well as its expectations.
As a result of the development of the LDDC's design strategies, projects within the UDA have received more than 90 awards for planning and design.
The LDDC has sought to create diversity in terms of development uses and opportunities not just for people and companies moving into the area but for the indigenous residential population and business communities as well. Massive investment has been attracted and this has been to the benefit of local residents as well with improved housing, shops, education and leisure services in addition to better employment prospects and improved access within Docklands and to the rest of London.
In the regeneration of London Docklands we have seen the historic imbalance between east and west London begin to be reversed. For the first time in a hundred years investment by the public sector in the East End has generated an even larger investment of private capital. Diverse and sustainable districts have been created around the historic Docklands communities which enable people to live and work in the same area. The substantial numbers of new houses built has relieved pressure for residential development in London's Green Belt and the LDDC has been instrumental in encouraging private house builders into the inner city. In addition Docklands has been able to accommodate the large footplate buildings required by many international businesses today. Such buildings would have been totally unacceptable in London's historic core of the City and West End. More than this, the success of London Docklands has provided the springboard for the regeneration of the Thames Gateway which will maximise the region's opportunities for benefiting from its proximity to Continental Europe. For the first time in a thousand years of London's history the East End has become the right side of London
This document is the third in a series of monograph
hs written to record the work of the London Docklands Development Corporation as it approaches the conclusion of its responsibilities in March 1998. The series was originally proposed by Eric Sorensen, whilst Chief Executive of the Corporation.
The monograph was written by Howard Sheppard, Director of City Design and Planning from 1991 until 1997, who offers particular thanks to Eric Sorensen, William Jack, the Chairman of the Corporation's Planning Committee and Vicki Blyth, Head of Media and PR and colleagues from within the City Design and Planning Team including Andrew Dick, Maurice Peakin and Peter Wright for their help and support.
The particulars of this document are provided as a general guide, and neither the author nor the LDDC accepts liability for errors or omissions.
Other Monographs in this series, all published in 1997/98, are as follows
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