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Reflections on London Docklands 30 years on

UEL east london aerial

Penny Bernstock in conversation with Sue Brownill and Ralph Ward

The regeneration of London Docklands is perhaps one of the largest regeneration projects in Europe. It is associated both with success in terms of physical transformation and failure in terms of transforming the lives of existing residents. It is simultaneously a model for both how and how not to do development.

Thirty years on it is interesting to revisit this project to evaluate the approach applied and lessons learned. What was the impact of over-riding local forms of governance and accountability and establishing a single regeneration agency? Why have unemployment levels remained persistently high? Was this really a market led approach to regeneration? What has been the impact on housing and housing need? Whilst critiquing the approach applied at London Docklands how different is this from contemporary approaches to regeneration? What are the alternatives?

About the guest speakers

Sue Brownill is a Reader in Urban Policy and Governance at the School of the Built Environment Oxford Brookes University, where she specialises in research on participation, urban regeneration and housing. Sue’s experience combines community engagement, research and policy. During the 1980s she worked for the Docklands Forum, a broad based community group which worked to get local voices heard and local needs met in regeneration.

Her book 'London Docklands; Another great Planning Disaster’ was published in 1993. Since then she has continued to write extensively about the area and to carry out related research.

Her 'Docklands; Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards' British Academy project in 2010 brought together past and present participants to discuss Docklands regeneration. She has also undertaken research on the Thames Gateway for ODPM, Olympic venues for the GLA, is currently advising DCLG on neighbourhood planning and continues to work with community groups engaged in planning and regeneration. Most recently she has just completed a project for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on affordable housing and planning obligations with colleagues at the Centre for East London Studies.

Ralph Ward has been a Visiting Professor at the Centre for East London Studies at the University of East London for the past three years. This followed his retirement as a professional town planner, working on strategic development projects, economic development and urban regeneration in London for over 20 years.

For the last ten years he worked in central Government, in the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Department of Communities and Local Government, initially as the principal strategist on the Thames Gateway and subsequently as planning and regeneration advisor for the Olympics and east London Olympic legacy. Before that he worked for the Mayor of London at the London Development Agency and drafted the first Mayoral London Economic Strategy in 2001. During the 1990's he first led the Isle of Dogs planning and design team, for London Dockland Development Corporation, and then moved to the Government Office for London as part of the London Development Unit, which oversaw London development strategy and regeneration policy before the arrival of the Mayor, and formed the foundations of what became the Mayor’s London Plan.

In addition to contributions to the programme of publications and lectures undertaken by UEL, he is also working as adviser to UK Regeneration, an innovative developer specialising in build-to-rent managed housing projects across the UK, and has set up a venture called London Urban Visits which provides informed briefing on London development issues.

Hashtag for the event #Docklands30 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

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