LDDC Monograph

Starting from Scratch -the development of transport in London Docklands (1997)

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This is the second and largest of the LDDC's Monographs. Produced in 1997 it was a single publication of 97 pages in three parts. For ease of management, and to keep files sizes to a minimum, the three parts have been reproduced as separate HTML pages all accessed from this Index Page which includes the Preface, Contents, Glossary, Bibliography and Acknowledgement pages of the original plus the Key Maps showing the Docklands Transport Network as it was in 1980 and as was projected to be in 2000. Part II is made up of two HTML pages.

Some readers will be interested to know about the progress made in developing the transport infrastructure since the LDDC closed its door in 1998.  There is a good summary of the various projects completed, in progress or planned at the website of the London City Airport Consultative Committee.

(Note: This Monograph has been reproduced by kind permission of the Commission for the New Towns now known as English Partnerships. It is published for general interest and research purposes only and may not be reproduced for other purposes except with the permission of English Partnerships who now hold the copyright of LDDC publications)

Key Maps

  Docklands Transport 1980 (154kb)
  Docklands Transport 2000 (168kb)

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Much of the comment about London Docklands has been controversial and it is not surprising that a regeneration project on this scale has aroused both strong enthusiasm and concern. In order to tell the story of Docklands development from the inside, the LDDC is producing a series of monographs about aspects of Docklands regeneration. This monograph summarises the evolution of transport policy and projects in Docklands and East London and is designed to contribute to a well informed analytical discussion.

The monograph is divided into three parts:

Part 1 provides a chronological resume of events. it begins with the 15 year period which saw the decline of the docks and ended with the creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) in July 1981. It then considers the initial development era between 1981 and 1985 and the sea change brought about by the commitment of the massive Canary Wharf development in 1987, the development which has most influenced the eventual shape and scale of transport in Docklands. It was private investment through the Canary Wharf development which finally convinced the public sector, after two decades of planning and hesitation, to build major road and rail schemes. This section concludes with the position as at May 1997.

Part 2 describes in greater detail the story of how key elements of the transport system such as the DLR and the Jubilee Line were planned and delivered. It also provides detail on the analytical background to the transport planning carried out by LDDC, and on the financial investment in transport infrastructure.

Part 3 reviews the lessons learned in providing a modern transport system in this part of London. if there is one issue in particular which deserves more examination it is the task of providing new infrastructure to match the pace of development. This aspect of the story is not well understood and it is hoped that this document will contribute to a better understanding of the history and the uncertainties with which Government, investors and others grappled. What is indisputably clear is that accessibility to and within this part of London has been transformed to the benefit of all.

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1. Let there be transport

The task
The failures of the 1960s and 1970s
The achievements of the 1980s and 1990s

2. Before the LDDC

The 1960s and 1970s
Studies, plans and proposals
The implementation of 1960s and 1970s plans
The inheritance of the LDDC

3. The Early Days of the LDDC

How to start?
First steps - the EZ Schemes
The key to Docklands accessibility - a public transport spine
The strategic road schemes
The STOL Airport - London City - an aviation first


4. A new era: the coming of Canary Wharf

Early development
The problems and opportunities created by Canary Wharf
Upgrading the DLR
A second rail line
The new Docklands highways: upgrading the road network
Building transport schemes quickly: the problems
Early increases in capacity: improved bus and Riverbus services
The other areas of Docklands: transport options

5. Resolving problems and moving on

Consolidating: 1990-1993
DLR: resolving the problems
Further changes at DLR
Completing the strategic road network
Future priorities: cross river links
Perceptions of accessibility

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6. The Jubilee Line story

Early beginnings
Improving connections to Docklands
The project in abeyance
More proposals and studies
The East London Rail Study
The demise of Olympia and York
The new railway

7 The DLR story

The birth of the DLR
What type of system?
What the railway could do for development
From plans to project
The DLR effect
The planning and justification of the Beckton Extension
Further changes to the system
Service problems
Systems integration
Change of ownership
A new signalling system
Damage to South Quay
DLR Lewisham Extension
Franchising the DLR

8. The development of the Docklands road network

The need for new roads
Investment certainty?
LDDC's plans for Docklands highways
The Memorandum and The Accord
Statutory Procedures
The environment
Limehouse Link
Leamouth and the Royals
Lower Lea Crossing


Status of the Docklands highways
The DoT's schemes
River crossings

9. Riverbus

The struggle to launch
The birth of RiverBus
Funding problems
The difficulty of operating a viable service
Lessons for the future

10. City Airport

The idea
Early problems
Set for success

11. Pedestrians, cyclists and bridges

Issues and priorities
Establishing a good pedestrian network
River and dock edge access
Disabled access
The Docklands pedestrian bridges
Development of a cycle network

12. Docklands transport planning: the analytical side

Development patterns
The Land Use Data Base: land use type, density and timing
Modal split: car and public transport use, and parking
Travel patterns
The London job market and its effect on Docklands
Predicting further development
The transport and land use models and their applications

13. Financial investment

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14. Is transport infrastructure the chicken or the egg?

The experience in Docklands
Two basic problems: funding and timescale

The chicken or the egg?


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BRNSE ~ British Rail, Network South East,

DoE ~ Department of the Environment: A Central Government department with national responsibilities for town planning, urban policy, conservation, regeneration and urban development corporations.

DoT ~ Department of Transport: A Central Government department responsible for highway and transport matters at national level. Following the General Election in May 1997 the DoE and DoT have been merged into a single department to be known as the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR)

DCC ~ Docklands Consultative Committee: A committee established by the GLC and the Dockland boroughs in 1982 to monitor, on their behalf, activity in London Docklands, including the work of the LDDC.

DJC ~ Docklands Joint Committee: A statutory committee set up in September 1974 by the Greater London Council and the Dockland boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham, Southwark, Lewisham and Greenwich to produce a strategy and co-ordinate the planning of Docklands, The Committee was replaced by an Urban Development Corporation (LDDC) following the 1979 election.

DLR ~ Docklands Light Railway.

DRML ~ Docklands Railway Management Limited.

GLC ~ Greater London Council: Established in April 1965 as a metropolitan local authority for inner and outer London. Responsible for metropolitan roads, traffic management, and shared responsibility for planning and housing matters with London borough councils, It was abolished in 1986.

GLDP ~ Greater London Development Plan: Produced by the GLC in 1968 covering Greater London and providing a strategic framework for guiding the production of detailed local borough plans by inner and outer London boroughs.

GOL ~ Government office for London, set up on 24th April 1994. GOL comprises the former London regional offices of the Departments of Environment, Trade and Industry, Transport, and Education and Employment. Its role is 'to work in partnership with local people to maximise the competitiveness, prosperity and quality of life in the capital'.

LBTH & LBN ~ London Borough of Tower Hamlets, London Borough of Newham: Two of twelve inner London boroughs created under the same act and at the same time as the Greater London Council (1963 London Government Act). Extensive dock systems owned by the Port of London Authority were situated within the boroughs: St. Katharine Dock, London Docks, East India and Millwall Docks, and the Royal Group of docks.

LCC ~ London County Council: A tier of local government responsible for administration of a number of functions in inner London, including planning, housing and transport. Replaced under 1963 London Government Act by the Greater London Council.

LDDC ~ London Docklands Development Corporation: A Government agency created in July 1981 by Michael Heseltine, Secretary of State for the Environment, under the local Government Planning and land Act 1980, to regenerate London Docklands. The Corporation became the planning authority for the area in terms of development control but not plan making. Was also provided with land acquisition powers and administered the Isle of Dogs Enterprise Zone from April 1982 - 1992.

LDSP ~ London Docklands Strategic Plan: A non statutory plan published in June 1976, by the Docklands Joint Committee, which outlined proposals for the redevelopment of London Docklands over a twenty year period in four five year phases.

LT ~ London Transport: A public agency responsible to the Department of Transport for the strategic planning of London's public transport system including buses and the underground (formerly referred to as London Regional Transport - LRT).

LRT ~ London Regional Transport.

LUL ~ London Underground Limited: A subsidiary company of London Transport.

TM ~ Travers Morgan: A firm of London based consulting engineers appointed by Peter Walker, Secretary of State for the Environment in 1971, on behalf of Government and Greater London Council to prepare redevelopment options for Docklands. Their conclusions were published in January 1973 in a two volume report entitled 'Docklands redevelopment proposals for East London'.

UDA ~ Urban Development Area: The area for which the LDDC assumed responsibility in July 1981.

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Planning for London, edited by Judy Hillman, Penguin Books, 1971.

Docklands redevelopment proposals for East London: R. Travers Morgan, 1973.

London Rail Study: Department of the Environment, GLC, British Rail and London Transport, 1974.

The Docklands Spine - Tube, Bus or Tram? A working paper for consultation 3: Docklands Joint Committee, April 1975.

London Docklands Strategic Plan, 1976.

A Study of Lower Cost Alternatives to the Jubilee Line in Docklands: Department of the Environment, Department of Transport, GLC, Docklands Development Organisation, London Transport Executive, 1980.

Review of the London Docklands Strategic Plan, (Docks 435): Report by the Managing Director, Docklands Development Organisation, May 1980.

Docklands Rail Study: Assessment of Development Impact: HFA in association with Roger Tym and Partners and Drivers Jonas, 1981.

Public Transport Provision For Docklands: Report of the Docklands and Access Steering Group. June 1982

Working for better transport: A record of achievement: GLC, 1983.

Public Transport in London: The next 10 years: GLC, September 1985.

Canary Wharf Regional Impact Study: London Docklands Development Corporation, March 1986.

Docklands - Planning the Initial Railway: J. G. Willis. Journal of the Institute of Highways & Transportation, 1987.

The London Underground: An Illustrated History by Oliver Green, lan Allen, 1987.

London Docklands Public Transport Access Study: London Transport International, 1987.

Docklands Public Transport Strategic Plan: Discussion Document: LRT & LDDC in co-ordination with British Rail Network South East, October 1988.

Proposal to extend the Bakerloo Line to Docklands: Steer Davies & Gleave Ltd for Olympia & York, May 1988.

Proposal for Second Rail Line to Docklands: Olympia & York, 1988.

Central London Rail Study: Department of Transport, British Rail Network South East, London Regional Transport and London Underground Ltd, 1989.

East London Rail Study: HFA for the Department of Transport, 1989.

Developing London's Docklands - Another Great Planning Disaster: Sue Brownill, 1990

Public transport in London Docklands: The Chicken or The Egg: C. Grant and R. Paling, Journal of the Institute of Highways & Transportation, 1990.

10 Years of Docklands: How the Cake was Cut: Association of London Authorities and Docklands Consultative Committee, 1991.

The Limehouse Link Tunnel: The Planning and Route of the Link: R.S. Blyth, Proceedings of the Institute of Civil Engineers, February 1994.

London Dockland Development Corporation Annual Reports

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This document has been prepared by Cynthia Grant, Executive Director of Transport Planning, with much encouragement and assistance from Eric Sorensen, who whilst Chief Executive of the Corporation initiated this series of monographs.

Corporation staff who have made contributions include: Mem Baybars, Peter Burgess, Phil Harrison, Bob Miller, Richard Paling, Bob Parker, David Pollock, Barbara Stoakes and Ken Thomson.

Valuable advice has also been provided by Jon Willis of London Transport, David Hicks and David Keep of Docklands Light Railway, and Howard Potter of Wootton Jeffreys Consultants.

The author would also like to particularly thank Sir John Garlick, Peter Turlik, Gareth Bendon and Vicki Blyth for their constructive suggestions and support.

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Other Monographs in this series, all published in 1997/98, are as follows

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Completion Booklets

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Annual Reports and Accounts

As with most organisations the Annual Reports and Accounts of the LDDDC are a good source of chronological information about the work of the Corporation and how it spent its money. Altogether these reports contain more than 1000 pages of information. These have been scanned and reproduced as zip files on our Annual Reports and Accounts page

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Public Transport Provision for Docklands

Early in the LDDC's life a Steering Group was set up by LDDC, London Transport and the GLC to carry out a study of feasible transport schemes and assess their costs and benefits. The study was carried out in association with the Department for Transport, the Department of the Environment and the Docklands Boroughs. The Group reported in June 1982 - here is a summary of their assessment of the various schemes.

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