London Docklands is an example of how urban change has created employment opportunities. This is one of a collection of four case studies covering social, economic and environmental opportunities resulting from urban change in London.

Case Study – Docklands, London

Why did the docks in London decline?

London’s history as a port city dates back to Roman times. Later, the construction of docks facilitated the handling of the large quantities of goods and raw materials that arrived in London by ship. Industries such as sugar refineries, flour mills, and timber yards developed near the docks to process these materials. However, with the advent of container ships in the 1970s, the docks gradually became inadequate, leading to their closure by 1980, along with many of the industries that relied on them.

Why have new industries grown?

To address this situation, the government established the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC) in 1981 to revitalise the area around the docks by attracting private investment. This initiative became a model for similar regeneration projects throughout the UK. One of the key features of the revitalised Docklands area is Canary Wharf, which now boasts high-rise office buildings housing international banks. With over 100,000 people employed there, and in conjunction with the City of London, Docklands has helped make London a major global financial centre.

Canary Warf in London's Docklands

Canary Warf in London’s Docklands

What employment opportunities does London offer?

Since 1994, London has experienced almost continuous job growth, with the number of jobs rising despite the recession that followed in 2007. Most new jobs have been in the service sector, particularly in “Professional, real estate and business services,” which encompasses various professions such as management consulting, law and accounting, real estate agents, advertising, and market research. Conversely, there has been a decline in manufacturing jobs, with few factories remaining in London.

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