So long, Docklands ...and pounds 1.8bn

A Billion-Pound Conservative flagship quango will be wound up in three months' time, with opinion still divided over whether it represented good value for the taxpayer or was a monumental waste of public money.

Since its formation in 1981 by Michael Heseltine, the then Environment Secretary, the London Docklands Development Corporation has received pounds 1.8bn in taxpayers' money. In addition, Docklands has swallowed 80 per cent of London's transport budget since 1981, a figure which does not include the new Jubilee Line extension. While the rest of London suffered from a worsening transport system, senior Tories, notably Mr Heseltine and the two Prime Ministers, Mrs Thatcher and John Major, poured pounds 2.2bn into road and rail links for just one part of the capital.

On 31 March 1998 the corporation will cease to exist, bowing out in a blaze of publicity, emphasising the success of the Canary Wharf project and the building of new homes in the former docks complex in London's East End. In one area, the Royal Docks, more than pounds 400m of public money has been spent, but without any noticeable benefit.

Executives can claim Canary Wharf is over 92 per cent let, that 73,000 people now work in Docklands compared with 27,000 in 1981, and almost 22,000 new homes have been built in the area.

Much of the employment created is not new to London but represents jobs relocated from elsewhere in the capital. The total is also thought to include temporary staff working on Docklands' construction projects, such as the Jubilee Line. Local people have not reaped the benefit of the job bonanza: the area remains one of the poorest in the capital with severe social problems. Neither, too, have they seen an improvement in housing. While some home schemes have been directed at local people, Docklands has spawned numerous luxury developments beyond the reach of most eastenders.

At one stage the corporation employed 500 people, many of them in marketing and selling. They have promoted Docklands heavily overseas, attending international conferences and trade fairs. Despite this effort, commercial tenants tend to have been drawn from companies already operating in London. Other areas of the capital, particularly the City, have suffered as the LDDC has fought an aggressive campaign to woo firms away.

And, while attention has focused on the belatedly successful Canary Wharf project, to the east a huge swathe of the old docks is still undeveloped. In the former Royal Docks, Victoria, Albert and George V, 70 acres of land remains virtually empty, with little prospect of immediate large-scale commercial building.

The University of East London is planning a campus in the Royal Docks but no major office projects are under way. Clearing the Royal Docks has cost the taxpayer pounds 400m so far without any tangible benefit.

A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said: "Docklands as a whole has received an extremely large amount of public money. It has been so heavily dependent on public money that when the Tories say it is an example of free market capitalism they are talking nonsense."

A property expert said the LDDC had made, "a useful contribution to the London property scene. It helped to free up space and to keep rents down a bit".

A former leader of a local council said he thought the LDDC and its Tory backers could have done a lot more. To have built an airport in the middle of Docklands but to not have given it a rail link was, he said, "stupid", and the lack of job creation he described as "disappointing". There was a shortage of affordable housing when the LDDC began, said the council leader, and there is still such a shortage.

A spokeswoman for the LDDC said the corporation had been presented with a vast amount of land in need of regeneration. That had largely been achieved. The recession slowed down some schemes but confidence had returned. She acknowledged that some people thought the Royal Docks too far from central London, but she was confident that space there would be let. A business park and an urban village are planned.

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Financial Control Manager - Regulatory Reporting

£400 - £550 per day: Orgtel: Financial Control Manager - Regulatory Reporting ...

Lead Application Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am current...

Senior Networks Architect

£65000 per annum + 15% Pension, Health, Travel & Bonus: Progressive Recruitmen...

SAP BW/BO Consultant

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW/BO CONSU...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices