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Eastern wisdom

GIVEN ANOTHER couple of years or so, London Docklands will be a model for urban integrated transport. The area will be connected to the City centre and surrounding regions by modern and efficient rail and road systems. It even has its own airport with newly expanded links to even more European destinations. All it needs is to resurrect the Riverbus service and Docklands will have it all.

That all this has been put in place in a couple of decades together with the other achievements of the LDDC (see page 16) is testament to the vision of politicians, planners and engineers involved.

Why then, admittedly when viewed with hindsight, does so much of Docklands history seem to be a tale of problem and catastrophe?

The answer must be that the previous government tried to achieve an urban regeneration miracle on the cheap. By relying so heavily on private sector enterprise to create some critical mass in the area, they created a fragile environment which demanded constant propping up with public sector funds which were sometimes forthcoming. Infrastructure work on this scale calls for proper planning. Pulled and pushed every which way by political and economic forces, the schemes ended up taking much longer and costing much more than they should.

Staff from the LDDC have travelled the world preaching their version of the urban regeneration gospel. It is to be hoped that the present government, while recognising the achievements of Docklands, will not repeat its mistakes. The decision on the CTRL will give us the first clue as to whether it has learned the lessons of the last two decades.

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