‘Planning bureaucracy’ causing bad development in London, says UEL’s ex-Olympics advisor

07:00 24 January 2014

Canary Wharf

Canary Wharf's early development was spearheaded by Docklands Development Corp when Ralph Ward was on the team


A leading town-planner who advised on the 2012 Olympic regeneration claims east London is being dominated by “evangelistic bureaucracy” causing destruction and bad development.

The University of East London’s Prof Ralph Ward reveals where planning has been going wrong when he gives a public talk in Spitalfields next month.

“Development has been dominated for decades by a well-meaning desire to rebalance the city and move the centre of gravity to the east,” he said.

“Fair enough—but why does this seem to have required so much destruction and poor development?

“How can we contend with London’s evangelistic bureaucracy and secure the regeneration we want, rather than the regeneration we’re told we need?”

Prof Ward worked for the London Docklands Development Corporation in the 1980s which spearheaded the massive Canary Wharf and Isle of Dogs regeneration, then joined the Government Office for London which managed planning before City Hall and the Mayor’s Office was set up in 2000.

He later became Olympic regeneration adviser and is now a visiting professor at the University of East London.

Prof Ward’s talk for TV historian Dan Cruickshank’s newly-formed East London Preservation Society is at 6.30pm on February 19. It is being held at the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings at 37 Spital Square, behind Bishopsgate. Booking in advance by email on


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