(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)
The experience in Docklands
The Corporation's experience in providing a road and public transport network for London Docklands points to certain lessons which may be usefully applied elsewhere, especially where public and private sector partnership mechanisms are used.
At one level basic provision can be quickly provided by directly funding the expansion of existing public transport services or by directly subsidising new skeleton services. Both approaches will help to generate investor confidence and attract new levels of activity so that eventually subsidy can be withdrawn. The level of investment activity and development, however, is severely constrained by the level of service provision.
Therefore, in addition and in parallel, what may also be required, especially in such neglected areas as Docklands, is new investment of a high order to provide a level of provision commensurate with regeneration ambitions.
Two basic problems: funding and timescale
There are two basic problems to this approach: first, obtaining funding for such schemes prior to and in order to facilitate the realisation of such ambitions; second, implementing such schemes within acceptable time scales, especially in periods of intense development activity. Failure to do so however, can severely slow down the momentum of investment and development, and at worst, prevent it from taking place at all.
Of critical importance has been the need to agree project objectives at the outset with all the agencies involved in the regeneration process. Both development opportunities and early implementation of transport schemes can be greatly enhanced when there is an effective partnership between public and private sectors, including Government. The prospects can be especially improved when the cost of schemes can be shared between the parties and such arrangements endorsed by Government.
The building of Phase I of the DLR network, with costs shared between LDDC and GLC/LT, the extension of the DLR to Bank, and the building of the Jubilee Line Extension, (where in both cases the same developer made significant contributions to the overall costs), are examples of such approaches.
If initial funds are limited another requirement in facilitating early development is to provide for flexibility and growth in both public transport systems and roads. Once again the DLR provides a good example of a basic system which was built with the capability to be expanded when further funding became available. Flexibility is thus a key to early development. It is particularly relevant in the UK where the paradox of transport planning is such that in order to obtain Government funds and support, one needs to demonstrate demand.
The chicken or the egg?
However, in areas awaiting regeneration that is not always possible as demand follows the supply factors of location and accessibility. In France, by contrast, the Government in such examples as La Defense and the holiday resorts of Lanquedoc-Roussillon have funded transport infrastructure in advance of investment by the private sector.
In this country such an approach has been adopted as part of previous regional assistance policies. It is particularly difficult in London, however, to persuade Governments to commit public expenditure for major transport investment in advance or as an 'act of faith'. Such an approach would certainly have been necessary for Docklands and East London in the 1970s and the first part of the 1980s as part of a major regeneration exercise. As this story has shown, however, transport investment at that time was piecemeal and at a much lower scale. Even by the late 1980s with clear evidence to be seen of the new Isle of Dogs business district centred on Canary Wharf, large sections of public opinion did not support the funding of the Jubilee Line Extension.
This was because there is already substantial demand for transport investment to support existing London travel and work patterns and to tackle congestion. Regeneration areas of London therefore face strong competition for resources from well established areas where transport problems are seen to be self evident. Too often programmes to regenerate areas of East London, for example, are seen as less important than programmes to make existing travel a more pleasant and more efficient experience.
In Docklands it was the scale of private sector investment, led by Canary Wharf, which provided a stimulus for the Cotporation's major transport programmes and subsequent funding by Government.
Canary Wharf became committed because of the early activities of the LDDC, and in particular because of the planning and tax regime in the Enterprise Zone and the building of the initial DLR. Without these factors there would have been no Canary Wharf, and without Canary Wharf there would not have been a Jubilee Line extension to Docklands, or a DLR Bank Extension.
The significance of Canary Wharf is not simply as a major commercial development creating a new business district. Rather it was the stimulus, on behalf of large parts of Southe-east and East London, which generated essential transport infrastructure. That infrastructure will in turn stimulate investment in jobs far beyond the new business district itself.
The transport schemes which have now been committed have in turn provided the impetus for a higher level of development and investment, both in terms of scale and quality, to be drawn to the area. This would certainly have not been feasible if the realities and perceptions of accessibility to and within Docklands were still focused on red brick roads and subsidised bus services.
Note by Webmaster:
Some readers will be interested to know about the progress made in developing the transport infrastructure since the LDDC closed its doors 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.