Modern Docklands: The background to redevelopment

Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs. Originally published by London County Council, London, 1994.

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, 'Modern Docklands: The background to redevelopment', in Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs, (London, 1994) pp. 686-691. British History Online [accessed 24 May 2024].

. "Modern Docklands: The background to redevelopment", in Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs, (London, 1994) 686-691. British History Online, accessed May 24, 2024,

. "Modern Docklands: The background to redevelopment", Survey of London: Volumes 43 and 44, Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs, (London, 1994). 686-691. British History Online. Web. 24 May 2024,

In this section

CHAPTER XXIV - Modern Docklands

No other part of London underwent a more rapid and radical redevelopment in the 1980s and early 1990s than the Isle of Dogs. This resulted from the response to the decline and eventual closure of the docks, particularly the creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) in 1981. The background to the setting up of the LDDC is described in Chapter I, while the designation as an Enterprise Zone of a large part of the area around the docks on the Isle of Dogs in 1982 is discussed below.

The Background to Redevelopment

According to the LDDC's first Chief Architect and Planner, Edward Hollamby:

'The great problem for the LDDC was how to obtain quick results, yet set high standards in planning and design. This was necessary if the confidence of the private sector, the public and the Government were to be secured. Such immediacy of action necessarily precluded the lengthy time scale involved in standing back and preparing for an unknown and uncertain future an overall plan.' (fn. 3)

The LDDC, therefore, eschewed the idea of any sort of master-plan and preferred to rely on market-led redevelopment. Even its design guide for the Isle of Dogs, published in 1982, was quite unlike a normal planning document, for it also showed development opportunities and was not based on precise land-use proposals. The underlying message throughout was that the LDDC's attitude to developments would be flexible and, in any case, the Corporation's chief executive, Reg Ward, later admitted that he stopped the plan from becoming 'prescriptive'. (fn. 4) Indeed, the Evening Standard, writing of the Canary Wharf development, argued that 'no docklands plan could have anticipated this event, or allowed the ambitious plans, wildly outside any reasonable expectation, to go ahead'. (fn. 5) Such an approach was based on the thesis that conventional land-use planning was inhibiting the entrepreneurial flair and investment necessary to regenerate Britain's run-down industrial and inner-city areas. This argument can be traced back to an article in New Society in 1969. The question posed was 'what would happen if there were no plan', and an experiment in 'non-planning' was suggested, the setting up of which would not be difficult legally. 'No land-use pattern could be regarded as sacrosanct' and people would be allowed to build what they liked. Yet the article contained a significant caveat in relation to Docklands: such an experiment could not be tried everywhere, because 'some knots — like London - are, by now, too Gordian for that'. (fn. 6)

Although the LDDC was accused of allowing a virtual planning free-for-all in its area, it did involve itself in detailed design matters. At the London Telehouse building, for example, it insisted that windows be included for the sake of appearance, although the clients, to maintain secrecy and security, did not wish to have any. (fn. 7) At City Harbour the LDDC demanded that plans for a 20-storey hotel (as yet unbuilt) on the edge of the Millwall Dock be amended, after tests suggested that the proposed block would affect sailing and windsurfing in the dock. (fn. 8) For Heron Quays, the LDDC approved a new masterplan (revised by the developer in the light of the Canary Wharf proposals) in November 1987, yet a month later decided to replace this with its own master-plan, drawn up by its own architect and outside consultants. The Corporation was able to justify such interference within the Enterprise Zone on the basis that it was the owner of the freehold of the site. Guidelines were given for acceptable heights for buildings, massing and materials. The three different designs subsequently submitted by Scott Brownrigg & Turner on behalf of the developers, Tarmac Brookglade, for the rebuilding of the existing part of the Heron Quays development, were all rejected by the Corporation. The main reason for the rejections seems to have been that the schemes would have been out of harmony with the Canary Wharf scheme, a view supported by the fact that Olympia & York's own masterplan for the eastern part of Heron Quays was approved by the LDDC within four months of submission and before detailed design work had been carried out. (fn. 9) At Skylines, the LDDC involved itself in making changes to the winning entry, and also insisted that another developer take over the modified scheme. (fn. 10)

The LDDC frequently offered its own sites on a competitive basis. At Caledonian Wharf and Friars Mead it prepared development and layout briefs, and then invited selected developers to submit housing schemes and tender for the site. In the case of Caledonian Wharf the successful developer was Thomas Bates & Son, whose scheme was designed by Alan Turner & Associates, a combination which had previously been runner-up for another LDDC-owned site elsewhere and had impressed its officers. (fn. 11) At Compass Point, the LDDC commissioned Jeremy Dixon and Building Design Partnership to produce designs for a housing scheme, which were incorporated into the tendering documents. Costains, who were the successful tenderers, largely adopted that scheme, although they preferred to use their own staff to execute it (see page 698). At London Yard the LDDC was keen to attract foreign investment, and successfully invited a Dutch-based property group, VOM, to submit a residential scheme for the site. In that case the LDDC entered into a related agreement with the developer and with house-purchasers on both land values and purchase prices, so that more ambitious landscaping could be provided and larger dwellings than normal could be built for relatively modest prices. (fn. 12)

On many of the sites which it owned, the LDDC undertook infrastructure works such as roads and water, gas, electricity and drainage services (as part of a programme to provide a completely new infrastructure for the whole of the Isle of Dogs), (fn. 13) and this sometimes involved elaborate and costly works. For instance, on the East India Dock site, where the dock had already been filled in, the LDDC constructed a series of canals to link with the river and the other docks, and to provide a framework for subsequent commercial development ( 139b ). At London Yard it spent several million pounds on eradicating methane pollution and on reclamation and river works, so that housing could be built there. (fn. 14)

In the 1970s the GLC argued that 'the first condition for a successful comprehensive development of the area must clearly be easier access', (fn. 15) while the Docklands Joint Committee regarded public transport 'as the key to the future prosperity of docklands'. (fn. 16) The Committee advocated, in the London Docklands Strategic Plan (1976), a step-by-step, but concerted, approach to development so that 'at any point there is adequate provision for a viable community to live in the area'. It also pointed out that the large areas of undeveloped land in Docklands offered the opportunity to build and improve roads 'without social disruption on the scale that usually follows in established urban areas'. (fn. 17)

In 1980 the Isle of Dogs had no passenger railway and no service by river. A single main road circled its periphery, with access off the congested A13 (East India Dock Road), and there were only two bus routes. The improvement of this system, however, presented the classic dilemma of any major reconstruction scheme: whether first to install a massive new transport infrastructure in the hope that subsequent development would justify the expense, or to wait and see what sort of system the actual level of development required. In reality, the LDDC had little choice but to follow the latter course. In the first place, its own decision to rely on market-led development and have no master-plan meant that it was almost impossible, at the outset, to predict traffic needs and levels. As a result the transport infrastructure was installed in a piecemeal fashion and incrementally, and development was allowed to proceed with little regard for the effect it might have on the transport system. (fn. 18) Secondly, in 1980 the Government and the GLC announced that the plans, suggested in the 1976 Docklands Strategic Plan, for spending £760 million on new rail and road links for the area, were to be abandoned, and only £100 million would be available for these purposes over the following 15 years. Among the projects cancelled was an extension of the Jubilee Line from Charing Cross to Woolwich. (fn. 19) Only very considerable government funding could have provided, at the outset, the new transport system Docklands required, for, as the LDDC admitted, its own public money was 'small in relation to the size of the task'. (fn. 20)

The LDDC's initial objective was, therefore, relatively modest: 'to bring the roads and public transport network up to the standard enjoyed in other parts of London.' (fn. 21) It went for quickly constructed, apparently cheap solutions: the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) and the 'red brick roads'. But, almost as soon as they were built, they were found to be hopelessly inadequate to cope with the greatly increased amounts of new development.

Nor, in respect of road provision, were the local authorities blameless. Delays in building the Poplar section of the Docklands Highway, vital to easing the congestion on the A13 and providing better access to the Isle of Dogs, were partly due to protracted wrangles between the GLC and Tower Hamlets Borough Council.

To make matters worse, the already inadequate transport system was put under even more pressure as improvements and extensions had to be carried out, during and after the periods of major general development of the area. (fn. 22) In 1988, for instance, construction vehicles accounted for about 45 per cent of the new traffic on Docklands roads. (fn. 23) In that year there was evidence that potential tenants were being deterred from moving to Docklands because of the transport problems. (fn. 24)

It had become obvious that without costly investment in the transport infrastructure the redevelopment of Docklands might flounder. The Government, having persuaded Olympia & York to contribute to the costs of extensions to the DLR and the Jubilee Line, was hopeful that developers might finance all the major transport improvements. However, such an approach was beginning to be regarded as unfair, as it was difficult to identify exactly who the beneficiaries of a particular scheme were or might be in the future. The Financial Times concluded that general taxation was often 'the least unfair way' of financing such projects. (fn. 25)

Redevelopment had initially been carried out with little apparent cost to the public purse, although generous tax and rate concessions were available within the Enterprise Zone. (fn. 1) Up to September 1989, the LDDC had, since its establishment, attracted £6.85 billion in private investment in Docklands, at a cost to itself of only £706 million, raised from government grants and sales of land. By then, however, it had also accumulated a daunting programme of outstanding projects to be funded.

By 1988 the cost of the LDDC's road programme had risen to more than £550 million, nearly three times that estimated when the programme was launched in 1986. (fn. 27) The cost of the DLR similarly escalated, from the initial figure of £77 million, to a projected £800 million for an expanded network, when the Lewisham extension is built. (fn. 28) To signal its concern, the Government, in January 1989, appointed a Minister of State with special responsibility for Docklands transport. (fn. 29) In that year the LDDC announced that 'over the next few years the Corporation will spend more than £1 billion, three quarters of which will be invested in new roads and railways'. (fn. 30) In view of the LDDC's own financial problems, the Government increased the Corporation's grant for 1989–90 by £91 million to improve the transport infrastructure, chiefly the roads. (fn. 31) Indeed, critics have argued that 'the LDDC's approach to transport has been predominantly roadsbased, overthrowing the GLC's major roads restraint policy, and is the exception to the general London-wide policy of not building new motorways into the heart of the capital'. (fn. 32)

This expenditure came at a time when the LDDC's income from sales of land had drastically dwindled, and the value of the land it still held had fallen steeply. As a result, in 1990, the LDDC went into deficit by £4 million. Following the resignations of several senior officers it reduced its commitments and staffing levels. Nevertheless, for the year ending 31 March 1992, the Corporation showed a deficit of £55 million, and land in Docklands was then valued by the LDDC at only £100,000 an acre. (fn. 33) In February 1991 Eric Sorensen, a Civil Servant from the Department of the Environment, became its Chief Executive, with the main tasks of completing sales in the Royal Docks and winding up the Corporation during the 1990s. (fn. 34) In October 1990 the Chairman of the LDDC, David Hardy, admitted that the Corporation had learnt the lessons of the Isle of Dogs and was putting infrastructure into the Royal Docks before development began, (fn. 35) while Michael Heseltine, who had been responsible for the birth of the Corporation and who was again Secretary of State for the Environment, was, by April 1991, calling for local authorities to join in partnership with the private sector to eradicate 'centres of urban deprivation'. (fn. 36)

Roads and Road Transport

The problem of road provision on and to the Isle of Dogs was particularly difficult. The creation of new roads, especially through the densely populated areas at the north-western approaches, would arouse political, social and environmental controversies. In addition, no one authority had overall responsibility. Some new roads were privately built as part of individual development schemes, while others were built by the LDDC to open up the area to development. More major roads, providing access to the Island, were the responsibility of the GLC until its demise in 1986, while the principal strategic routes, such as the A13, came under the Department of Transport. (fn. 37)

The LDDC constructed a new public road, Marsh Wall, at a cost of £2½ million, in order to give entry into the heart of the formerly enclosed docks area and the newly designated Enterprise Zone. Opened in 1983, it was three-quarters of a mile long, and ran from Westferry Road, through the site of the main gate of the West India Docks, round the south-west corner of the South West India Dock, and between the West India and Millwall Docks, to join Manchester Road on the eastern side of the Island (see plan C). It was dubbed the 'red brick road' because it was paved with over two million 'bricks' (actually red concrete blocks), laid in herringbone fashion, for ease and cheapness of maintenance. (fn. 38) At the same time, shorter but similarly constructed roads — Lighterman's Road, Limeharbour, Mastmaker Road and Millharbour — were opened to give access off Marsh Wall to development sites on either side of the Millwall Dock.

All of these roads were so narrow that two-way traffic could not pass parked vehicles, and they were built to cope with the traffic generated by between five and eight million sq.ft of commercial space, whereas by 1988 a total of about 25 million sq.ft was planned. (fn. 39) The LDDC, therefore, had to carry out improvements to these roads between 1989 and 1991, at an estimated cost of £5 million. (fn. 40) Also, Marsh Wall was reconstructed so that it terminated at its north-western end at Westferry Circus. (fn. 41)

Improving access to the Isle of Dogs was more difficult and took much longer to accomplish. The necessary widening of the northern ends of the two main roads to the Island, Westferry and Preston's Roads, was not carried out until the second half of the 1980s. (fn. 42) More serious was the delay in constructing a major new road to the north of the Isle of Dogs, which would both provide a southern relief route to the heavily congested East India Dock Road (A13) and give better access to the Island. Such a road had been proposed by the GLC in the 1970s and early 1980s, but the precise route was the source of considerable disagreement between the GLC and Tower Hamlets Borough Council. (fn. 43) In the event, this scheme was superseded by the more ambitious 'Docklands Highway' proposed by the LDDC to run from Wapping to the Royal Docks. (fn. 44) The Poplar section was built in three parts: the Limehouse, East India, and Poplar Links, all of which were completed in 1993 (see plan C). The last linked the other two, and merely extended and widened the western section of Aspen Way, built by the LDDC in about 1987. (fn. 45)

The Limehouse Link, from The Highway to Westferry Road, was approved in principle in 1986. The initial estimate was £41 million, but the successful tender, announced in September 1989, from Balfour Beatty, in association with Fairclough, was £171 million. The decision to build the 1.8km-long road in a tunnel added considerably to the cost and was made largely on environmental grounds, as the road runs through densely populated housing estates. Delays in handing over land to contractors, unforeseen problems with soil conditions, and stricter than expected noise abatement requirements led to further increases in the costs of the road, which by October 1992 were said to be about £345 million (including rehousing and the purchase of the land). Early in 1992 the LDDC took over direct management of the construction of the scheme, bringing in engineers from the American firm of Bechtel. The Limehouse Link was opened by the Prime Minister, John Major, in May 1993. The western portal is decorated by a mural sculpture, 'Restless Dream', by Zadock Ben David, while further sculptures, both untitled, by Michael Kenny and Nigel Hall adorn respectively the eastern portals from the Isle of Dogs and from Aspen Way. (fn. 46)

For the East India Dock Link, a contract worth £32 million to construct the 1km-long dual carriageway and the associated Preston's Road flyover was awarded by the LDDC to Edmund Nuttall Ltd in November 1990. (fn. 47) This section of the road supersedes the eastern section of Aspen Way, which was built in 1987–9 by Wimpey for the LDDC at a cost of £6.9 million. (fn. 48) Near the site of Brunswick Wharf Power Station the East India Dock Link divides. One part runs north-east to join the A13, and is in a 350m-long tunnel which avoids compromising development along the line of the road, particularly the former East India Dock site. (fn. 49) The other part continues eastwards to link with the Leamouth roundabout and the Lower Lea Crossing, designed to give a direct connection between the Isle of Dogs and the Royal Docks (see plan C and page 13). (fn. 50)

Docklands Light Railway

In 1967 a monorail was suggested as an alternative to an underground railway as a means of improving Docklands transport and of boosting commercial growth in the area. It was pointed out that the tracks of the former Broad Street to the Isle of Dogs railway could be utilized, and a further line from South London to Stratford was envisaged. (fn. 51) In 1973 a study team, commissioned jointly by the GLC and the Department of the Environment to draw up redevelopment proposals for East London, suggested a rapid transit route through Docklands, employing 'minitrams', running under automatic control and operating on much sharper track alignments than a conventional railway. (fn. 52)

Despite the urgings of the Light Railway Transport League, (fn. 53) the 1976 London Docklands Strategic Plan, produced by the Docklands Joint Committee, was rather wary of any tramway or light rapid transit scheme, being particularly concerned about the technical and operational problems. (fn. 54) Nevertheless, the shelving of plans to extend the Jubilee underground line forced the GLC, in conjunction with the LDDC, to explore low-cost alternatives. As a result, in June 1982, a report called Public Transport Provision for Docklands, jointly prepared by the LDDC, the GLC, London Transport, and the Departments of Transport, the Environment and Industry, advocated the construction of two new light-railway routes, totalling about 7½ miles. A quick decision was required and the Government responded remarkably rapidly, agreeing to provide the £77 million needed to establish the railway. London Transport, on behalf of the GLC and the LDDC, was responsible for preparing the Parliamentary plans, and constructing and running the railway. (fn. 2) Parliamentary approval for the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) route from Tower Hill to the Isle of Dogs was received in April 1984, and that from Poplar to Stratford in April 1985. (fn. 55) Such a railway could be built cheaply and quickly, while its innovative nature ensured extensive publicity. Thus, given the need to attract developers to a poorly served area, the DLR seemed to offer 'a credible, highprofile passenger transport system with an air of permanence and reliability, free of the notorious congestion of some East End roads'. (fn. 56)

In advance of Parliamentary approval, Arup Associates, as design consultants, in conjunction with Design House, Pentagram, G. Maunsell & Partners, Kennedy & Donkin, and Henderson Busby, had, from April 1983, been producing detailed designs and specifications for signs, trains, stations and structures. The contract, valued at £58.4 million, to design (using the Arup team's proposals as guidelines), build and equip the DLR was awarded to a consortium of GEC and John Mowlem in August 1984, and construction began in that year. (fn. 57) The railway was officially opened by the Queen on 30 July 1987, but, because of safety problems, the first public trains did not run until 31 August. (fn. 58)

Strictly, the DLR is not a light railway but a fully fledged one. Nevertheless, the system is entirely separate from both those of British Rail and London Underground, and does not have to conform to their standards. It operates on much sharper bends, for example, and the trains are more akin to trams than to conventional railway carriages.

The DLR uses standard-gauge track, and electric power is supplied at 750 volts direct current from a lowlevel third rail. All trains are automatically driven and controlled by a central computer at Poplar. No drivers are required, but there is a 'Train Captain' who controls the opening and closing of doors at stations, and can, in certain circumstances, manually drive the train. (fn. 59)

Lines from Tower Gateway and Stratford meet just north of West India Quay station, and the southern terminus is at Island Gardens (see plan C). The route through the Isle of Dogs betrays the fact that the DLR was meant to serve the commercial developments within the Enterprise Zone, rather than those of the residential areas around the periphery of the Island.

Approximately two-thirds of the first phase of the DLR was built on disused or under-used railway lines. East of Limehouse it is carried on the former London and Blackwall Railway viaduct, built in 1840, and south of Mudchute station on a 27-arch viaduct built in 1872 and totally disused since 1926. New bridges, utilizing specially fabricated 65m-wide steel spans, carry the railway over the three West India docks. (fn. 60) Earlier schemes for a Docklands railway had envisaged tunnelling under the docks, but their closure made bridging possible. The dramatic way in which the railway crosses the water draws attention to its presence in the heart of the Enterprise Zone. (fn. 61)

The stations closely follow the designs suggested by Arup and their collaborators. They relied on a 'kit of parts' approach, employing standard prefabricated components to provide only very basic facilities, which could be improved as the need arose and finance permitted. (fn. 62) Platforms were initially 30m long, with simple bus-shelter-type canopies, which have curved tops. They are made of metal and are glazed with polycarbonate. (fn. 63) The terminus at Island Gardens is more elaborate, with a domed staircase-tower which echoes that of the nearby Greenwich Foot Tunnel. (fn. 64) The grandest of all is the station at Canary Wharf, protected by an overall roof (see page 714 and Plate 154b ). The stations have ticketvending machines at street level. (fn. 65)

Even as the DLR was being built, the vast number of jobs expected to be created by the Canary Wharf development rendered the railway incapable of coping with the predicted quantities of passengers (from an original estimate of 1,500 per hour, to 13,000 per hour). (fn. 66) In June 1987, therefore, even before the railway was officially opened, a contract worth £50 million was awarded to GEC-Mowlem to carry out immediate improvements. These included new trains, the lengthening of platforms to allow double-length trains, and additional track facilities at Canary Wharf. (fn. 67) The first of the double-length trains came into service in February 1991. (fn. 68)

After its opening the DLR was beset with operating difficulties. (fn. 69) These were partly due to the innovative nature of the system, and its technical complexities. For example, any failure of the central computer brought the whole system to a standstill. (fn. 70) Its very success added to the problems, for it was almost overwhelmed by the numbers of passengers. In particular, its popularity with tourists, who were curious to see the new system or who used it as a route to Greenwich, seems to have been grossly underestimated. (fn. 71) By 1989, well before the opening of Canary Wharf, the DLR was carrying 30,000 passengers a day, (fn. 72) whereas the original forecast had been a maximum of 22,000 a day by 1991. (fn. 73) The work required to improve and extend the railway in itself caused considerable disruption to the existing services. (fn. 74)

The advantage of linking Canary Wharf to the heart of the City with a new DLR terminus at Bank station was recognized in the Public Transport Provision for Docklands (1982). The provision of this link was one of the requirements of the developers of Canary Wharf from the earliest days, under G. Ware Travelstead. (fn. 75) Such a link was psychologically important as Canary Wharf was being promoted as an extension of, or even an alternative to, the City. (fn. 76) Parliamentary approval was granted in 1986 and Olympia & York, having taken over the Canary Wharf development, agreed to pay a half of the original estimated cost of £150 million, with the Government providing the remainder. (fn. 77) Work commenced in that year, a limited service began in July 1991 and the work was completed by the end of that year. (fn. 78)

Work began on a further 8km-long extension, to the Royal Docks at Beckton, in 1989. (fn. 79) It was designed by G. Maunsell & Partners, with architectural design by Ahrends, Burton & Koralek. (fn. 80) The estimated cost of £240 million was paid by the LDDC, with funding provided entirely by the Government, after private developers had declined to provide financial support. (fn. 81) The section between West India Dock Road and Preston's Road, including the reconstruction of Poplar station (with a footbridge to North Quay, opened in October 1992) (Plate 141a ), was carried out by Balfour Beatty, at a cost of £22 million, while construction of the main section from Preston's Road to Beckton (involving a new Blackwall Station at Preston's Road) was carried out by a combination of Mowlem and Taylor Woodrow for £116 million. The Beckton extension came into service in March 1994. (fn. 82)

In November 1990 the Transport Secretary announced the intention to build a three-mile-long southern extension to the DLR, running under the Thames to Greenwich and Lewisham, but he insisted that the £130million scheme was to be built and operated by the private sector. (fn. 83) Although work was expected to start in 1992, the Bill authorizing the line did not receive the Royal Assent until the summer of 1993. (fn. 84)

In 1991 work began on a project costing £8 million to add two further tracks between North Quay and Canary Wharf. This involved the demolition and rebuilding of West India Quay station. The main contractor was Mowlem Civil Engineering and the work was completed in 1993. (fn. 85)

Following Ministerial complaints and lobbying from Olympia & York, in April 1992 ownership of the DLR was transferred from London Transport to the LDDC. (fn. 86) The figures for March to May 1992 showed that reliability had greatly improved and in one week the DLR had the best reliability figure for any railway line in London. In the same period passenger numbers rose to 32,000 a day, compared with 23,000 in 1991. (fn. 87)

The Jubilee Line Extension

Proposals for an eastward extension to the Jubilee underground line had long existed, and it was originally intended that it should include links with Cannon Street and Fenchurch Street stations. (fn. 88) However, a report published by London Transport International in 1988 suggested that the Jubilee Line extension was neither an immediate priority for London's overall transport network nor even for that of Docklands. (fn. 89) Nevertheless, Olympia & York, pressed by some of their future tenants, considered the extension vital to the success of Canary Wharf, and during 1988 and early 1989 attempted to introduce a Private Bill into Parliament authorizing the line. (fn. 90) When this failed, they approached the Government, offering to raise £180 million from private sources towards the cost of construction, then put at £450 million (as against £230 million in 1980). (fn. 91) In November 1989 approval was given for a ten-mile extension of the Jubilee Line, from Green Park via Waterloo and London Bridge to Canary Wharf and Stratford. But the Government made it clear that any extension would only be built if there was 'a very substantial contribution from private developers'. (fn. 92) The developers (mainly, in fact, Olympia & York) agreed to contribute £400 million over 25 years towards the estimated cost, now £1 billion. (fn. 93) When the developers of Port Greenwich offered to contribute £25 million, the route was altered in 1990 to run southwards via that development rather than eastwards through the East India Dock site. (fn. 94) The Bill for the Jubilee Line extension was submitted in November 1989, (fn. 95) but was not approved until March 1992. (fn. 96) With Olympia & York already in financial difficulties, its bankers were unwilling to sanction the payment of the company's initial contribution of £40 million due on 1 April 1992 (see page 711). (fn. 97) In November 1992 it was announced that the Government had negotiated a satisfactory arrangement for the funding of the project. (fn. 98) It is to provide £1.5 billion for the project and Canary Wharf's bankers the other £400 million. Work on the extension began in December 1993, and the line is due to open in 1998. The new Jubilee Line station at Canary Wharf has been designed by Sir Norman Foster & Partners. (fn. 99)

Docklands River Bus

In 1973 the London Docklands Study Team argued that river transport could not be a major contributor to public transport for Docklands, because of its limited capacity and the difficulties of providing satisfactory links with other forms of public transport. (fn. 100) Nevertheless, the GLC and the LDDC explored the possibilities of introducing such a service. (fn. 101) A trial service using one boat began in the summer of 1987, (fn. 102) operated by Thames Line, a private company set up under the Government's Business Expansion Scheme, whereby individuals could claim tax relief on amounts invested in the company. (fn. 103) A regular service commenced in June 1988, using 62-seater catamarans, powered by water-jet. Initially these operated from Charing Cross and were capable of covering the journey to West India Dock Pier in 20 minutes. The service was extended westwards to Chelsea Harbour in September 1988, and southwards to Greenwich in 1989. (fn. 104) Following the opening of Canary Wharf to the public in late July 1991, the River Bus used the new Canary Wharf Pier instead of West India Dock Pier. (fn. 105)

Within six months of commencing regular services, Thames Line was experiencing financial difficulties. Operating problems were caused by rubbish in the river blocking the water-jets. The service also failed to attract sufficient passengers, because there were too few people then working in Docklands, the fares were relatively high, and, until the service was extended to Greenwich, there was a lack of tourist traffic. As a result, the service carried about 5,000 passengers a week, a quarter of the number required to break even. (fn. 106)

Between 1989 and 1993 several financial rescues were mounted by a series of consortia formed by companies involved in Docklands, the LDDC, and local authorities. (fn. 107) Despite these efforts, the River Bus was said to have lost £2 million in 1992, and the service ceased abruptly in August 1993, when the operating company went into liquidation. (fn. 108)


  • 1. In 1989 the Economist estimated that the rates concessions in the Enterprise Zone were about £24 million a year, while the tax concessions granted up to 1992 would, on the basis of development committed, cost the Government about £1.5 billion.
  • 2. Docklands Light Railway Ltd was a wholly owned subsidiary of London Regional Transport.
  • 3. Ted Hollamby, Docklands; London's Backyard into Front Yard, 1990, p.10.
  • 4. LDDC, Isle of Dogs: A Guide to Design and Development Opportunities, 1982: David Gosling, 'The Isle of Dogs, London Docklands: Discrepancy in approaches to urban design', Cities, Nov 1983, pp.57–158: Building Design, 19 June 1987, p.34.
  • 5. Evening Standard, 25 June 1990, 'London Docklands 1991' supplement, p.1.
  • 6. Reyner Banham, Paul Barker, Peter Hall, Cedric Price, 'Non-Plan: An Experiment in Freedom', New Society, 20 March 1969, pp.435–43.
  • 7. Building Design, 15 Feb 1991, p.10.
  • 8. Independent, 4 June 1988, p.2.
  • 9. Building Design, 6 Sept 1991, pp.8–9.
  • 10. Ibid, 14 Nov 1986, p.30.
  • 11. AJ, 6 June 1984, p.31.
  • 12. LDDC, London Docklands Housing Guide, 1988, p.248.
  • 13. Hollamby, op.cit., p.11.
  • 14. LDDC, London Docklands Housing Review, 1988, p.247.
  • 15. GLC Mins, 1971, p.248.
  • 16. GLC Mins, 1975, p.749.
  • 17. London Docklands Strategic Plan, pp.3, 14, 17.
  • 18. Sue Brownill, Developing London's Docklands: Another Great Planning Disaster?, 1990, pp. 133–4.
  • 19. Guardian, 1 July 1980, p.3.
  • 20. LDDC, Corporate Plan, 1986, p.3.
  • 21. Ibid.
  • 22. Ibid: Docklands Light Railway News, No.8, Jan 1989, p.8: New Civil Engineer, 4 July 1991, pp.16–21.
  • 23. Construction News, 1 Dec 1988, p.8.
  • 24. B, 18 Nov 1988, p.7.
  • 25. Financial Times, 10 Aug 1989, p.16: Estates Times, 23 Nov 1990, p.15.
  • 26. Economist, 24 June 1989, pp.35–6.
  • 27. Construction News, 22 Sept 1988, pp.16–17.
  • 28. Independent, 15 April 1991, p.23.
  • 29. Brownill, op.cit., p.134.
  • 30. LDDC News Release, 29 Nov 1989.
  • 31. Planner, 23 June 1989, p.27.
  • 32. Association of London Authorities and The Docklands Consultative Committee, 10 Years of Docklands: How the Cake was Cut, 1991, p.9.
  • 33. New Builder, 31 Jan 1991, p.12: ELA, 1 Feb 1991, p.13; 3 May 1991, p.6: Local Government Chronicle, 1 Feb 1991, p.10: Building Design, 1 Feb 1991, p.3: Financial Times, 30 April 1991, p.10: Docklands News, May 1991, p.3: Estates Times, 3 May 1991: Independent, 16 July 1992, p.3.
  • 34. LDDC News Release, 8 Feb 1991: Guardian, 4 Feb 1991, p.6: Docklands Forum, Feb 1991, p.[4].
  • 35. The Times, 16 Oct 1990, p.2.
  • 36. New Builder, 2 May 1991, p.5.
  • 37. New Civil Engineer, 4 July 1991, pp.16–21.
  • 38. LBTH, Tower Hamlets Local Trade Developments, No.17, Nov 1982, p.6: ELA, 19 Aug 1983, p.3: Daily Express, 23 Sept 1983, p.13: New Civil Engineer, 4 July 1991, pp.16–21.
  • 39. Daily Telegraph, 24 June 1987, p.21; 6 Oct 1988, p.12.
  • 40. LDDC, Enterprise Zone Road Improvements, 1988: Docklands Recorder, 6 Oct 1988.
  • 41. ELA, 25 Nov 1988, p.14: LDDC, Keep The Traffic Moving, 11 Aug 1989, p.[4].
  • 42. LDDC, Annual Report 1987–88, p.25: City Recorder, 16 June 1988.
  • 43. LBTH, Tower Hamlets Local Trade Developments, No.23, Feb 1984, p.5.
  • 44. ELA, 30 June 1989, p.21.
  • 45. LDDC News Release, 2 April 1990: LDDC, Isle of Dogs Wapping, Limehouse & Poplar Street Plan, 1988.
  • 46. Contract Journal, 12 Oct 1989, pp.14–15: LDDC News Release, 29 Nov 1989: New Civil Engineer, 28 March 1991, p.8: Construction News, 13 Feb 1992, p.5: Independent, 16 Oct 1992, p.8: The Times, 17 May 1993, p.31; 18 May 1993, p.8: Limehouse Link, 'New Civil Engineer' Supplement, May 1993.
  • 47. LDDC News Release, 8 Nov 1990.
  • 48. Financial Times, 11 May 1987, p.34: LDDC News Release, Nov 1989.
  • 49. LDDC News Release, 8 Nov 1990.
  • 50. New Civil Engineer, 4 July 1991, p.12.
  • 51. Stratford Express, 15 Dec 1967, p.3.
  • 52. Docklands Redevelopment Proposals for East London, vol.1, pp.114–15.
  • 53. Light Rail Transit Association, Transit for Docklands, c1982, appendix.
  • 54. London Docklands Strategic Plan, p.40.
  • 55. Stephen Jolly and Bob Bayman, Docklands Light Railway: Official Handbook, 1987, pp.5, 32.
  • 56. Estates Gazette, 19 April 1986, p.281.
  • 57. AJ, 8 Aug 1984, p.23: Information notes issued by the DLR, 17 Sept 1987, p.7.
  • 58. Guardian, 29 July 1987, p.4: Daily Telegraph, 31 Aug 1987, p.11.
  • 59. Jolly and Bayman, op.cit., pp.13, 16, 17, 47.
  • 60. Ibid, pp.22, 24, 34.
  • 61. Ibid, p.40.
  • 62. AJ, 8 Aug 1984, pp.22–9.
  • 63. Jolly and Bayman, op.cit., p.10: Building Design, 27 Jan 1988, p.36.
  • 64. AJ, 8 Aug 1984, p.25.
  • 65. Jolly and Bayman, op.cit., p.12.
  • 66. Ibid, p.46: Guardian, 8 June 1987, p.20.
  • 67. Guardian, 8 June 1987, p.20: Docklands Light Railway News, No.9, June 1989, p.1.
  • 68. Evening Standard, 18 March 1991, p.50.
  • 69. The Times, 23 Aug 1989, p.8; 16 Oct 1990, p.5; 11 April 1992, p.10: Financial Times, 15 Nov 1990, p.26: AJ, 21 Nov 1990, p.9: Independent, 15 April 1991, p.23.
  • 70. Docklands Light Railway News, No.9, June 1989, p.1: The Times, 23 Aug 1989, p.8.
  • 71. Independent, 15 April 1991, p.23.
  • 72. The Times, 23 Aug 1989, p.8.
  • 73. Information leaflet issued by the DLR, summer 1990.
  • 74. Docklands Light Railway News, No.8, Jan 1989, p.8.
  • 75. Construction News, 23 Feb 1989, pp.20–6: Michael Hebbert, 'One "Planning Disaster" after Another: London Docklands 1970– 1992', London Journal, vol.17, no.2., 1992, p.126.
  • 76. Brownill, op.cit., p.137.
  • 77. Information leaflet issued by the DLR, summer 1990.
  • 78. Docklands Light Railway News, No.6, July 1987, p.4: The Times, 29 July 1991, p.27: Evening Standard, 26 Nov 1991, p.41.
  • 79. Docklands Recorder, 17 Aug 1989, pp.5, 7.
  • 80. New Civil Engineer, 4 July 1991, pp.16–21: Building Design, 23 Oct 1992, p.6; 29 Jan 1993, p.5.
  • 81. Daily Telegraph, 24 July 1989, p.21: Financial Times, 2 Aug 1989, p.6: Construction News, 3 Aug 1989, p.52.
  • 82. Information leaflet issued by the DLR, summer 1990: London Docklands in the News, No.376, 1 Aug 1990, p.10: Construction News, 23 Aug 1990, pp.10–11: The Times, 16 Oct 1992, p.23; 17 May 1993, p.33: Information supplied by DLR, 12 Jan 1994.
  • 83. The Times, 21 Nov 1990, p.5.
  • 84. Construction News, 24 Jan 1991, p.9: Docklands News, Dec 1992, p.2: Information from DLR, Oct 1993.
  • 85. Financial Times, 28 Oct 1991, p.12.
  • 86. Evening Standard, 5 Sept 1991, p.5: Financial Times, 2 April 1992, p.16.
  • 87. Docklands News, Aug 1992, p.9.
  • 88. London Docklands Strategic Plan, p.41.
  • 89. Brownill, op.cit., p.144.
  • 90. Contract Journal, 30 Nov 1989, p.16.
  • 91. Guardian, 1 July 1980, p.3; 7 June 1989, p.13: Building Design, 26 May 1989, p.6.
  • 92. Daily Telegraph, 24 July 1989, p.8.
  • 93. Financial Times, 17 Nov 1989, p.1: Contract Journal, 30 Nov 1989, p.16.
  • 94. The Times, 29 Oct 1991: Estates Times, 3 May 1991, p.1.
  • 95. Construction News, 4 July 1991, pp.16–21.
  • 96. B, 24 April 1992, pp.18–19.
  • 97. Independent, 31 March 1992, p.26; 2 April 1992, p.28.
  • 98. Evening Standard, 14 Dec 1992, p.6.
  • 99. Building Design, 23 Oct 1992, p.18: Evening Standard, 22 Dec 1992, p.4: 22 Feb 1993, p.1: The Times, 15 March 1993, p.7; 29 Oct 1993, pp.25, 29; 30 Oct 1993, p.7; 1 Dec 1993, p.12: Department of Transport, Press Notice, 8 Dec 1993: Daily Express, 9 Dec 1993, p.7.
  • 100. Docklands redevelopment proposals for East London, vol.1, p.115.
  • 101. LDDC, Annual Report and Accounts, 1982–83, p.20: LDDC, Corporate Plan, 1986, p.29.
  • 102. Evening Standard, 3 May 1988, p.14.
  • 103. Thames Line PLC, prospectus, 1987.
  • 104. Leaflets issued by Thames Line during 1988: Docklands Digest, No.19, vol.3, 1989, pp.19–22.
  • 105. City Recorder, 8 Aug 1991.
  • 106. Docklands Recorder, 26 Jan 1989, p.1: Daily Telegraph, 2 Feb 1989, p.25.
  • 107. Daily Telegraph, 24 Feb 1989, p.2: Docklands Recorder, 22 March 1989, p.14: Independent, 16 April 1991, p.8: ELA, 12 June 1992, p.17; 3 July 1992, p.16: Evening Standard, 14 Sept 1992, p.32.
  • 108. Docklands News, January 1993, p.3: Evening Standard, 19 April 1993, p.54: Independent, 21 Aug 1993, p.15.