London's Docklands

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Introduction

London Docklands is the area in East and South East London. It forms part of the boroughs of Southwark, Lewisham and Tower Hamlets. London Docklands was home to many easterners and Dockers. However following four major phases of reconstruction, many of the native dwellers were forced to migrate out of the community. If the reconstruction of London Docklands had not occurred, the community would have become a thriving place for the culture of the easterners and traditional Dockers, the community would not have been subjected to social segregation, the community dwellers would still be having their strong traditions of care and openness to each other.

Gentrification is the process of restoring an urban area that is run down. London’s Docklands faced serious counter-urbanization issues, de-industrialization, segregation and cumulative causation. These changes led to at least one million people leave the inner city between 1961 and 1981. At least 243,000 jobs were lost during the period from 1961 to 1971. Many left the city because of clearance, decentralization and improved private and public transport, which turned to be expensive. Most ethnic bastions, such as Pakistanis and Africans, moved in during the active period and settled in the abandoned area (Ellmers & Werner, 2000).

Gentrification of Docklands was implemented in four phases. The first phase occurred between the 1940’s and1960’s. The intent of this stage was to address bombing damage from the Second World War. The subsequent phase occurred from the 1960’s to 1970’s and involved trying out new ideas found to be working for outsiders and the wealthy (Museum of London Docklands, 2011).

The third phase took place in the 1970’s and focused on making Docklands a partnership area. Making Docklands a partnership area required increasing funding through with measured progress. The last stage occurred from 1970-1990, and it established the London Docklands Development Corporation. The corporation activities saw 0,000 residents settle in Tower Hamlets, Newham and Southwark in 21 square kilometers land. During the period, several flagship projects such as 24 mega scale office buildings for 50,000 people, were built. The contractor also developed the second largest skyscraper in Europe (Al Naib, 2007).

The catalyst schemes include London City airport for small planes, Docklands Light Railway and Tube extension to the Jubilee line (Museum of London Docklands, 2011).

Notable deliverables are that Docklands is the third most popular place to tour in London. Besides the above, thousands of new jobs have been created, the environment is accessible, and there is reverse population decline. However, failures also surface. Local populace suffered to some extent, and their input was not considered. Housing in Docklands is expensive, and the local industry is squeezed out. Social segregation is rampant in Docklands community (Dench, Gavron, & Young, 2006).

Summary of London Docklands

The United Kingdom government in the 1980s set up the Urban Development Corporations in a bid to reverse the process of inner city decline. The corporation aimed at recreating inner city areas with vast amounts of dilapidated and unused land. The Corporations had power to seize and reclaim land, refurbish old buildings and develop infrastructure. The group appealed to the private sector investment by offering firms reduced taxes and other benefits. These incentives yielded expanded industrial community and residential developments. The port of London in the 19th century was a key port in the world but started to decline by the end of the 1950s. Many of the docks were dilapidated and abandoned. The London Docklands Development Corporation was constituted to address the resulting economic, social and environmental challenges in 1981 (Museum of London Docklands, 2011). The decline was occasioned by increase in ship size that suggested that they found it difficult to cruise down the river. Another reason for the decline was containerization that implied few Dockers were required as large cranes were used to unpack containers from ships. Lastly, the decline of port side industries and manufacturing contributed to withering economic fortunes of London Docklands (Dench et al., 2006).

The resulting problems in the Isle of Dogs in 1981 included a decline in population, loss of jobs and lack of recreation facilities. Additional problems included poor access to the rest of London as roads were narrow, inadequate and heavily congested. Public transport was majorly a single bus route with no railway or underground service. Almost 95 percent of housing was occupied while shopping facilities were limited (Al Naib, 2007). Other entities engaged in turning around the economic fortunes of Docklands included the Newham Council, conservation groups, local housing associations, property developers and the national government (Al Naib, 2007).

The changes to the Docklands area included environmental improvement, economic recovery and social regeneration. New open spaces were created, as well as pedestrian and cycle routes through Docklands with access to the river. Unemployment dropped from 14 % to 7.4 %. A light railway was constructed in 1987 now with the capacity for 35,000 passengers a week. New spacious shopping centers were built at Canary Wharf (Ellmers & Werner, 2000). The successes of gentrification of the Docklands area included increased trade for local shopkeepers; competitive rent for large firms based in the area and improved accessibility in and out of the area. The joint initiatives addressed the dilapidating land, commercial property and housing in the area (Dench et al., 2006).

Criticism abounds that the intended beneficiaries were overstepped. Many locals are unable to afford the high cost of new high end houses, the only ones in the area. Despite the demand for workers, the old Dockers were left out as new business demanded skills that the old Dockers lacked. Social segregation is visible with reduction in community spirit that old Docklands possessed. The easterners hardly augur well with yuppie newcomers in lifestyle (Al Naib, 2007).

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