30 years of Canary Wharf – what does it mean for the community?
It is now 30 years since the start of the development which became Canary Wharf. It is now home to 120,000 jobs, rising to 150,000 in the next 20 years. No-one can deny the area has changed – and the skyline is as iconic now as that of Chicago. Who has benefitted? One of the most challenging goals to achieve in large scale regeneration is to spread the benefits around, trying to make sure local people and smaller business get a share of the uplift as investment comes in and conditions improve. “No-one left behind” is a good way to capture the aim.
The arguments go on about Canary Wharf but there is no doubt about all those jobs and while there is always more we can do to make sure all local people see it as an opportunity for them, it was good to see ‘Thirty Years of Canary Wharf’ published this month. Produced independently for Canary Wharf Group, it is a local impact report looking at economic, employment, social and environmental impacts.
The report is a summary of how the local area has benefitted over 30 years, and while naturally it is focused on the positive, it is an undeniable success story. A particular highlight for us here at ELBA is the reported £1.59 billion that has passed through the Canary Wharf supply chain to east London businesses. East London Business Place is our partner project with Canary Wharf Group and it has played a big role in opening up the supply chain and helping smaller businesses get into shape so that they can compete for and win contracts from the big corporates and construction firms. There has been a job too to persuade the purchasing managers in the big firms that there are plenty of east London companies which can supply to the required standard.
Support for training and skills development, help for local groups and a strong cultural offer are all detailed in the report. It’s a success story but there is more to do:
- There are still reports that very local residents believe that Canary Wharf is not for them. We need to make jobs more accessible to all local residents.
- The richness and breadth of the jobs and careers on the Wharf is not widely understood. Far from being just about banking and financial careers there is just about every job in admin and commerce, not to mention London’s third largest retail offer and a big hospitality trade.
- The public space, waterside, public art and architecture are for us all to enjoy – plus the very wonderful Docklands Museum. It is a destination for leisure time as well as for work – and no-one should feel excluded.
All in all, 30 years on, going strong and plenty more to give.