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The significance of post-war London reconstruction plans for East End industry

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Jeffrey Diefendorf has shown that during and after the Second World War there were potential conflicts in many European cities between the aim of physical reconstruction and the need to rebuild local and national economies. In London, as elsewhere, these conflicts came to be reflected in the reconstruction plans that were prepared. This paper examines the relationship between planning and industry in London between 1940 and 1955 and analyses the role of large-scale redevelopment areas in the physical and economic reconstruction of London. The issues are explored with special reference to London's industrial East End. The nature of the conflicts over reconstruction in London and the manner in which they were expressed and resolved can inform understanding not only of planning in a major metropolis but also of the broader processes at work in the political and institutional structures of local and national government. The emergence of national concern about London's growth in the interwar period, both in terms of population and employment is sketched, and national policy responses to accelerating metropolitan expansion are outlined. The impact of the Second World War on London's physical and economic structure and the role envisaged for large-scale redevelopment areas in plans for reconstruction are then discussed. The relative weight given to industrial and social objectives in reconstruction areas (termed Comprehensive Development Areas after 1947) [1] is assessed and the problems and opportunities posed by the particular character of London's East End are reviewed. Focus is on planning priorities within the Stepney/Poplar Reconstruction/Comprehensive Development Area, and the significance of political and fiscal considerations in determining policy, particularly from the viewpoint of the planning authority, the London County Council (LCC).

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 1997-01-01

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