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Covent Garden & Urban Regeneration

The Battle for Covent Garden

If the original plans for Covent Garden had been implemented, two thirds of the area would have been demolished and replaced with high rise buildings, pedways and an underground ring-road.

This now inconceivable scenario was only thwarted after a historic battle by residents and businesses led to over 200 buildings being 'listed' by the late Geoffrey Rippon, Secretary of State for the Environment. These events helped turn the tide of post-war planning in the UK away from wholesale demolition and decanting residents, to a more sensitive approach to our historic city centres, and to London's long standing residential villages such as Covent Garden, Soho and Bloomsbury.

Renewing Housing and Employment

In 1974, when the Covent Garden Fruit and Vegetable Market moved after two centuries, many of the buildings in Seven Dials lay empty and in a state of dereliction, which its difficult to recall today. 90% of the area's housing stock had been empty for decades in the expectation of wholesale demolition of large parts of Covent Garden.

In 1977, Seven Dials was declared a Housing Action Area in addition to its status as an Outstanding Conservation Area (only 36 existed out of 6,000 in the UK). Between 1977 and 1984, the Housing Action Area Committee (residents, businesses and Camden Council Officers) brought back into use every vacant residential property, encouraged major private housing schemes and new businesses. Thus, both the housing and employment base of the area was regenerated as a sustainable community.

A limited number of environmental improvements were carried out in the early 1980's, in retrospect mostly misguided.

 


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