LDDC Publication
Regeneration Statement (March 1998)
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  ~ London Docklands in 1981
  ~ Overall Strategy
Main Elements of the Programme
  ~ Transport Access
  ~ Reclamation
  ~ Utilities
  ~ Environment
  ~ Commercial Development
  ~ Housing
  ~ Community Infrastructure
  ~ Private Investment 
  ~ Employment
  ~ Unemployment
  ~ Population



~ Succession and the Royals
  ~ Relations with Local Authorities and other Local Partners/Stakeholders
  ~ Opinions of Residents and Businesses
Tables and Charts
Before and After

Other Monographs in this series
Completion Booklets
Popular Press Releases
Annual Reports and Accounts


(Note: This Statement 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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London Docklands in 1981

The London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) was established on 2nd July 1981, under the provisions of s.136 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980, in response to the severe economic, physical and social damage caused to East London by the closure of London's docks. The London Docklands Urban Development Area (UDA) covered eight and a half square miles (2,146 ha.) extending six miles (10.8 km) down river from London Bridge to the south and Tower Bridge to the north, and comprised parts of the London Boroughs of Southwark, Newham and Tower Hamlets.

The economy had been wrecked by the closure of the docks:

  • The population of London Docklands fell by 20% between 1971 and 1981.
  • The unemployment rate in London Docklands in 1981 was 17.8%.
  • In the three years between 1978-1981 10,000 jobs were lost in London Docklands.
  • In 1981 60% of the area was derelict, vacant or under-used.

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Overall Strategy

The LDDC's strategy has been to correct market failures and to create the circumstances and in particular transport infrastructure in which private investment would fund the economic regeneration of London Docklands, while at the same time to improve the social infrastructure and public amenities from their low base.

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Transport Access

About half the Corporation's £1.86 billion investment has been spent on transport infrastructure

  • The 18 miles (29 km)128 station DLR (investment to date £734 m) is now reliably carrying more than 80,000 passengers daily. The £200 million Lewisham extension, funded by the private sector, is under construction and will open in 2000 with five new stations south of the Thames.
  • The LDDC has built or had a major part in the procurement of 72 miles (1 16 km) of new or improved roads.
  • The Corporation has provided high specification pedestrian and cycle networks and has given priority to ensuring that Docklands is fully accessible to all, including disabled people.
  • The Corporation has promoted an integrated transport policy which has delivered a modal split, on the Isle of Dogs Central Business District for instance, of 27% private to 73% public transport at peak hour travel.

The Corporation has fostered London City Airport which carried 1.2 million passengers in 1997 and has championed the Jubilee Line Extension of the Underground which, opening in Spring 1999, will be able to carry 22,000 people an hour in each direction and connect London Docklands directly with London Bridge and Waterloo BR stations and the West End.

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The Corporation has reclaimed 2,042 acres (826 ha.) out of 2,173 acres (879 ha.) of land and water acquired during its lifetime. In so doing, it has been at the forefront of the movement to develop brownfield sites instead of greenfield.

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The Corporation has invested £159 million in the provision of utilities notably drainage and electricity supply - in which the area was severely deficient. It has pioneered more energy efficient approaches to electricity supply including combined heat and power stations supplying developments through local networks.

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The LDDC halted the filling in of the docks and has refurbished them to a high quality, opening them up to the public - 3.7 miles (6 km) of waterfront accessible in 1981, 31 miles (50 km) in 1998 - with elegant footbridges to mitigate the barrier effect. Watersports facilities have been or are being provided in every dock, and robust, well funded arrangements have been made for securing their good management into the long term.

The Corporation has had an active policy of providing wildlife habitats. Amongst its numerous projects it has created an ecology park at Bow Creek and a wildfowl sanctuary at East India Dock Basin.

The Corporation has sought to create an attractive environment - with high quality of urban design, street furniture, public art, open spaces (including the 23 acre (9 ha.)Thames Barrier Park currently under construction at Silvertown). It has planted 160,000 trees and won 94 awards for excellence in landscaping, planning, architecture and conservation.

In 1982 the Corporation invited the Secretary of State to review the register of listed buildings in Docklands. As a result, a further 116 buildings and structures were added to the existing 210 on the list. The LDDC embarked on an extensive programme of repair and restoration. In contrast with the situation in 1981/82 few, if any, listed buildings in Docklands are at risk in 1998. The LDDC extended four of the 10 conservation areas existing in 1981 and added 18 more.

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Commercial Development

The designation of 482 acres (195 ha.) of the isle of Dogs as an Enterprise Zone for 10 years between 1982-92 proved a major stimulus in creating a commercial/office market in Docklands. It attracted significant investment and international businesses, contributing over 11.2 million sq. ft (1 million sq. m.) of completed new office space out of a Docklands total of 14.8 million sq. ft (1.3 million sq. m.). It led to the establishment of a new business district for London, incorporating the Canary Wharf development as its centre-piece.

Canary Wharf with South Quay comprises a total of 8,3 million sq. ft (0.8 million sq. m.) and forms the core of the central business district. When fully built out the two schemes will total some 21.4 million sq. ft (2 million sq. m.) and employ a total of some 70,000 employees. At present the Isle of Dogs Central Business District employs some 30,000 people and is in the first quarter of 1998 91 % let.

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In 1981 housing in the UDA was of poor quality and in short supply.

  • 9.1 % of stock was classified as overcrowded.
  • 20% was classified as being in poor or uninhabitable condition.
  • 95% of the housing was rented, mostly (83%) through the local authorities. Owner occupation was 5%.
  • In the five years from 1976-1981 there were only 1,140 local authority, 167 housing association and two private sector dwellings built in the whole of Docklands.

The stock of dwellings in 1981 was 15,000. By March 1998 it was 38,000. Over 24,000 homes have been completed under the auspices of the LDDC. Of these some 17,700 were for owner occupation, 5,300 for housing associations and nearly 1,000 for local authorities.

The LDDC has grant aided the building of 2,000 new social housing units and contributed to the refurbishment of 8,000 existing dwellings. These figures do not include the provision of nearly 600 homes for those rehoused under The Accord with the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

The proportion of home ownership has leapt from 5% to 45% - still below the London average.

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Community Infrastructure

The Corporation has spent just over 7% of its total budget on community infrastructure and activities. Of this £120 million, about half has been invested on education and training and half on health and other community activities.

Notable schemes include:

  • Tower Hamlets College (£10 million)
  • Bacon's College (£3.7 million)
  • 12 new primary schools (£6.1 million)
  • Extension and improvements to 17 other schools (£2.2 million)
  • Provision of IT equipment for the schools in London Docklands (£4 million)
  • A grant of £5.2 million towards the Royal Docks Community School to open in September 1999.
  • The Butler's Wharf Chef School (£263,000)
  • 5 new health centres and 6 refurbished existing health centres (£4.8 million), plus £3.2 million on social care facilities, including three children's day care centres

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Working in collaboration with the Councils and other statutory providers and in particular through the Accord with London Borough of Tower Hamlets (1989) and the Memorandum of Agreement with London Borough of Newham (1987) - the Corporation has provided or made substantial contributions to numerous community leisure, recreation and social facilities and other public amenities. Examples include:

  • East Beckton District Centre (£4.2 million)
  • Docklands Equestrian Centre (£1.1 million)
  • Limehouse Youth Club (£1.4 million)
  • Millwall Sailing Centre (£1.3 million)
  • Surrey Docks Watersports Centre (£1.2 million)
  • One O'Clock Club, Millwall (£660,000)
  • St Andrew's Play Space (£430,000)
  • Winsor Park Resource Centre (£700,000)
  • Mudchute Farm and allotments (£1.2 million)
  • St Peter's Centre (£950,000)
  • St Mark's Community Centre (£1.14 million)

In the past 10 years, the Corporation has spent in the region of £8 million on grants to voluntary bodies in London Docklands. Community trusts with substantial endowments will enable this support to be continued into the long term. Few, if any, areas of London have such a facility.

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Private Investment

The Corporation through its £1.86 billion investment of public money has levered in £7.2 billion of employmentgenerating private investment: hotels, restaurants, shops, factories, print works, offices and leisure facilities: 25 million sq. ft (2.3 million sq. m.) since 1981. The variety is sufficiently large to give Docklands an economy with a diverse character more like that of the West End than that of the City. Although financial and business services are the largest employment sectors with 43% of the jobs, manufacturing is the third largest at 19% and there are more manufacturing jobs in Docklands now than there were in 1981. Tourism is growing strongly, with Docklands receiving 2.1 million visitors last year. Five hotels and a youth hostel have been built and four more hotels are under development. When the developments in the Royal Docks come on stream, the diversity of the economy will be even more pronounced.

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The impact of private sector investment on employment has been very substantial. Since 1981, the number of employers has more than doubled from 1021 to 2690. Employment has grown to 85,000 from 27,200 in 1981 and the numbers will continue to grow rapidly. Forecast working population in 2014 is 175,000.

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Levels of unemployment within Docklands are inevitably affected by prevailing trends in the national and, in particular, the London-wide economic cycle. However, the dramatic transformation in public transport, enabling Docklands residents to access a far wider labour market, the growth in local employment opportunities and improved educational provision and staying on rates have had a beneficial effect on unemployment in Docklands. In 1981 there were 3,533 unemployed residents out of an economically active population of 19,788. in December 1997 there were 2,883 unemployed residents out of an estimated economically active population of 40,077. The respective unemployment rates were 17.8% in 1981 and 7.2% in December 1997.

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With the growth in employment has come a doubling in the population. In 1981 the population was 39,400, in 1998 83,000. The forecast population in 2001 is 98,500.

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Succession and the Royals

The Corporation has progressively handed on London Docklands, area by area to the local authorities. First was Bermondsey Riverside in October 1994, then Beckton in December 1995, Surrey Docks Peninsula in December 1996, Wapping and Limehouse in January 1997, the Isle of Dogs in October 1997 and the Royal Docks in March 1998.

One of the criteria for the timing of the handover was that the LDDC's regenerative role had substantially come to an end. Regeneration will continue, but the momentum of regeneration will carry the process on in the absence of a special agency. The Corporation's successors, and in particular the local authorities, will continue the good work. On the Isle of Dogs - the largest and most complex area in which the Corporation has completed its remit - it is gratifying to note that further new building on Canary Wharf is strongly under way, the bomb damage at South Quay is being repaired and has stimulated further development and the massive scheme at the listed warehouses at West India Quay (including the Museum of Docklands) is under way.

Only in the Royals is regeneration insufficiently far advanced. From 31st March when the Corporation ceases operation, the Corporation's role will be taken on by English Partnerships in collaboration with the London Borough of Newham. But the Corporation will be leaving a development programme which will take the Royals through to completion.

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An infrastructure programme costing over £35 million will complete the refurbishment of the docks. These include the construction of the Royal Victoria Dock Footbridge, the replacement and realignment of the Manor Way Swing Bridge (which carries the North Circular Road to the Woolwich Ferry), the construction of the International Rowing Course in the Royal Albert Dock, the replacement of the impounding station and the installation of flood defence gates in the King George V lock.

The development programme is well under way.

An agreement with the developer of the 1.2 million sq. ft (110,000 sq. m.) international exhibition centre (ExCeL) on the north side of the Royal Victoria Dock which will generate 14,000 jobs and have a huge spin off for the local economy, has been signed.

The Royal Albert Dock Trust international rowing facility financed by the LDDC and the Sports Lottery Fund (£16.1 million) is on site and is expected to be completed by the end of 1999.

A Lottery Fund application is being made for a Sailing Centre at the western end of the Royal Victoria Dock, backed by a £1 million grant from the LDDC.

The London Docklands Campus of the University of East London and the Thames Gateway Technology Centre are now on site funded from a variety of sources (£40 million). 3,000 students are expected in the first phase in September 1999. Eventually there will be 5,000 students.

The Royals Business Park on the north side of the Royal Albert Dock and Basin has secured its anchor client, Norton Healthcare, which is on site with the construction of a European HQ and ancillary facilities. The scheme covers 35 acres (14 ha.) and in its first phase will employ 700 staff, of whom 300 are expected to be new employees. The remaining 56 acres (23 ha.) of the Business Park are currently being marketed.

Phase I of the Thames Barrier Park project, the remediation scheme, has been completed and the contract for the construction of the Park has been awarded. A developer for the first residential parcel of about 250 dwellings has been appointed.

The West Silvertown Urban Village Phase I, consisting of over 1,000 dwellings, shops and a community centre on 36 acres (14 ha.) south of the Royal Victoria Dock is making strong progress. A primary school is in programme to open in 1999. The marketing of the commercial development-led Phase II on 40 acres (16 ha.) around the Pontoon Dock will be marketed by English Partnerships. It will be linked to the Thames Barrier Park by a footbridge across the North Woolwich Road. The new community in Silvertown will be supported by an improved public transport system for the South Royals, partly funded by the LDDC and implemented by London Borough of Newham and London Transport.

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Relations with Local Authorities and other Local Partners/Stakeholders

Although relationships with the three Boroughs got off to a rocky start and there were many tensions and disagreements throughout the 1980s, latterly there has been a progressively more co-operative and friendly working relationship with each of them. Formal agreements on joint community infrastructure investment programmes (largely funded by the LDDC) were entered into with London Borough of Tower Hamlets "the Accord" in 1989 and London Borough of Newham 'the Memorandum" in 1987 through which much of the Corporation's contributions to social and community facilities have been channelled. The Corporation has worked harmoniously with other statutory providers, including health agencies, London East Training and Enterprise Council and housing associations. The local authority members on the LDDC Board have played a full part in developing positive relations between the Corporation and the respective Councils.

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Opinions of Residents and Businesses

The Corporation has since 1988 regularly surveyed the opinions of residents on the Corporation and its activities and in 1994 and 1996 the opinions of local businesses. There have been five surveys of residents. All have shown a preponderance of positive attitudes towards the Corporation and there has been a generally rising trend of satisfaction. Preliminary findings from the 1997198 survey indicate that this trend has been maintained. Key results are illustrated in the Charts Rating the LDDC (23kb) and How the Area Has Changed (16kb)

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Tables and Charts

Investment - 22kb
Employers - 10kb
Jobs - 14kb
Unemployment Rates - 9kb
Population - 14kb
Dwelling Stock - 38kb
Docklands Transport 1980 - 154kb
Docklands Transport 2000 - 168kb

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TABLE 1: Lifetime Outputs and Cumulative Spend as at 31.3.98:

Population 83,000 (1981, 39,400)
Businesses 2,690 (1981, 1,021)
Employment 85,000 (1981, 27,200)
New dwellings 24,042  
Area of derelict land reclaimed 2,042 acres  
New industrial/commercial floor space 25.1 million sq ft  
Public sector investment £1,859 million  
Private sector investment £7,200 million  

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TABLE 2: Structure of Local Employment







Agriculture, Fishing 38 0 6 0
Mining, (Quarrying 6 0 2 0
Manufacture 15,765 19 273 10
Energy 94 0 3 0
Construction 2,083 3 112 4
Wholesale, Retail, Repair 6,956 8 474 17
Hotels, Restaurants 3,459 4 208 8
Transport, Communication 7,025 9 213 8
Finance Intermediation 17,768 22 123 5
Real Estate, Renting, Business Activities 17,206 21 641 24
Public Administration 2,873 3 35 1
Education 1,744 2 78 3
Health, Social Work 1,986 2 149 6
Community, Service Activities 4,709 6 206 8
Others 4 0 1 0
Unclassified 584 1 166 6
TOTALS 82,300 100 2,690 100

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 Land and Water owned by LDDC  2,173
 Water  417
 Set aside for roads, transport and landscaping  550
 Sold for development*  1,061
 To be sold  145
 * Includes conditional sale of 85 acres for ExCel  

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Before and After

 Surrey Docks, early 1980s  Surrey Docks Shopping Centre, 1996
Surrey Docks - early 1980s Surrey Quays Shopping Centre 1996
 Acorn Walk, before refurbishment  Aciorn Walk, after refurbishment
 Acorn Walk, Surrey Docks, before refurbishment After
 West India Docks 1982  Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, 1997
 West India Docks, looking west, 1982  Canary Wharf and the Isle of Dogs, 1997
 Limehouse Basin1983  Limehouse Basin, 1998
 Limehouse Basin, 1983  Limehouse Basin, 1998
 Shadwell Basin 1985  Shadwell Basin 1998
 Shadwell Basin 1985  Shadwell Basin 1998
 Western Dock, Wapping 1981  Western Dock, Wapping 1998
 Western Dock, Wapping 1981 Western Dock, Wapping 1998 

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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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