The effects of a growing economy on an existing population facing inequalities can go either way. The existing population can be seen as benefactors of a rise in jobs, income and housing due to their proximity to the financial district and in turn may aid in the reduction of inequality. According to Owen Hatherley, Canary Wharf over the last 20 years has made London into a city of inequalities that the older generation fought to eradicate.

Frieden claims that “Politicians and government bureaucrats have at least as much effect on economic outcomes as do the laws of the marketplace”. The World Trade Centre in Canary Wharf, Tower Hamlets was originally built in 1991, aided by the London Docklands Development Corporation which was set up by the government. It is an interesting illustration of the effects regenerating a market can have on a working class population. The intention of the development was to revive trade in the once thriving docks of East London. Other problems intended to be tackled were poor housing, high unemployment and poverty which were already prevalent amongst inhabitants of the area. Most issues of which arose after the decline of the docks.

However, developers were not obliged to employ from locals and so many jobs went to people outside the local population thus having little impact on unemployment rates. 13,500 people living on the Isle of Dogs (the ward Canary Wharf is in) were excluded from the benefits of the growing market and opportunities that surrounded them (Punter, 219). The Docklands saw a rise in house-building but still failed to meet demands of the housing crisis. Due to the rise in house prices, working class locals could not afford the new builds.

If anything, the regeneration that took place furthered inequality. Not only did the development of Canary Wharf make the poor poorer, it opened way for a different socio-economic group. This group consist of professionals that are well fitted for the jobs made available by a world trade centre. They also can afford the homes being built due to having higher incomes. This has contributed to making Tower Hamlets the second most divided borough in London in terms of income disparity.
Unfortunately, the working class did not reap the benefits of a new build that held promises of great change in this case. It doesn’t necessarily mean making new markets of trade is always negative.

However, it should be carefully considered as to what methods and actions are vital to achieve the goals set out for. Regulations should be put into place in order to ensure the local population is protected and profits.

Sayeeda Ahmed



Jeffry A. Frieden, David A. Lake (2000) ‘Historical Perspectives’ International political economy perspectives on global power and wealth (Routledge) pp

Hatherley, O. 2012. The myth that Canary Wharf did east London any good. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 10 December 15].

Punter, J, 2010. Urban Design and the British Urban Renaissance. Oxon: Routledge.


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