London Docklands

What were the pros and cons of the London Docklands development?

The London Docklands is an area that has gone through significant change in recent years. In the later part of the 19th century it was a centre for trade, such as tobacco and ship building, and this defined the characteristics of the area with its tightly packed homes and wealth of warehouses. As a result of the bomb damage from the Second World War the Docklands went through a period of decline until the 1980s when the London Docklands Development Corporation was established to help breathe new life back into this part of London. Since then a vast amount of work has been completed in the London Docklands, which has had both pros and cons.

The pros of the London Docklands development

The Cons

  • There is evidence of a social divide in this part of London. Contrasts in wealth and standards of living can be seen in very close proximity, often over the other side of a single fence.
  • Some feel that there has been a lack of cohesion in terms of the planning and development of the area and, as a result, there is a chaotic feel to the various projects that have populated this part of London.
  • There are some missing connections between major areas of the London Docklands, for example Wapping and Surrey Quays are very separate and there is no connection between the Millennium Dome and the Isle of Dogs.
  • In many parts of the London Docklands there is still little community feel and this could only be established with more investment in transport, healthcare, education and recreation.

The Pros

  • An impressive transport infrastructure that provides essential connections for both local residents and businesses. The Docklands Light Railway caries up to 321,000 passengers per week.
  • A new airport. The first plane landed at the London City Airport in 1987 and now more than half a million passengers a year use the airport. Flights leave from here to 18 European and UK locations and it is a hub for 13 different airlines.
  • A wave of new employment. Development in the London Docklands brought with it a vast number of new employment prospects. 2.28 million sq metres of commercial and industrial space was developed and the number of businesses choosing to settle here more than doubled from 1,000 in 1982 to 2,400. As a result the area has become a jobs hub and employment increased by 157%.
  • Thousands of new homes completed. Areas of the London Docklands have become much more residential thanks to the development that has taken place over the last couple of decades. 19,844 new homes have been built and the area has seen a 40% increase in privately owned housing as well as the refurbishment of more than 7,000 local authority properties.
  • Amenities are now more plentiful and diverse. For example, there are now 50+ retail units let at Canary Wharf and contributions have been made to multiple primary and secondary schools in the area.

The London Docklands development has completely changed the old industrial feel of the docklands and given it a new lease of life. This has had both pros and cons but there is still considerable work left to do.

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