THE Corporation was an urban development corporation, the second to be established by the then Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltine, under s.136 of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980. Its object was to secure the regeneration of the London Docklands Urban Development Area (UDA) comprising 8½ square miles of East London in the Boroughs of Tower Hamlets, Newham and Southwark. This was a response to a huge decline in the economy of the area brought about by the progressive closure of the 1960s onwards.
It had powers to acquire land by agreement or compulsory purchase and, in the case of the large amount of land in the public sector, there were powers for it to be vested in the Corporation by the Secretary of State. This ensured a supply of land for development.
It took over from the London Boroughs their planning (but not their plan making) powers. This was response to the Government's perception that the Boroughs had been too restrictive in exercising their development control and other powers because their plans for the area were outmoded and inappropriate.
It had powers, and the resources, to provide new (or refurbish the existing) infrastructure.
THE 1980 Act requires an urban development corporation "to secure the regeneration of its area, by bringing land and buildings into effective use, encouraging the development of existing and new industry and commerce, creating an attractive environment and ensuring that housing and social facilities are available to encourage people to live and work in the area".
The area experienced catastrophic job losses over a short period of time, as the Docks closed. Between 1978 and 1983, over 12,000 jobs were lost. The skills of the local population, directed at blue collar work, were inappropriate for many of the growth areas of the London economy .
A high proportion of land was held by public bodies who had neither the will nor the capital to make it available for redevelopment. Relatively little land was in private holdings. Thus the supply of land was constrained by a pattern of ownership which was not market sensitive.
Many development sites were poorly served by the local infrastructure - the provision of which would be essential for these sites to be developed. Poor strategic links between Docklands and the rest of London, the country and internationally, would have created additional costs for employers thus depressing the potential returns on investment.
The LDDC has successfully tackled the widespread multiple market failure which prevailed in the London Docklands in 1981. Failures in land, housing and commercial property markets have been addressed and labour market failures have been alleviated by a combination of training projects, improvements in accessibility in and out of Docklands and the creation of new local jobs.
IN most of the LDDC's area the Corporation' work was sufficiently complete, and the momentum of regeneration such, that there was no need for a specialised agency to take over its role. The Boroughs and other local agencies were left to carry on the work. In the Royal Docks, however, the Corporation's there was a good deal of outstanding work. This was taken over by another agency of the central government, English Partnerships, working in collaboration with the London Borough of Newham to whom the LDDC's planning powers were restored. The joint team established for this purpose operates from offices on the north side of the Royal Albert Dock just opposite London City Airport.
Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR)
In 1997/98 the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions (DETR) commissioned an evaluation of the LDDC by Cambridge Policy Consultants Ltd. This followed an earlier baseline report undertaken by consultants PriceWaterhouse.