London is a sprawling great metropolis that has often been called ungovernable. It is one of the oldest conurbations to claim the title “global city,” a key node in the international economic system. It dominates England in terms of economy, politics and culture, sucking in talent and wealth. Politics, at least on planning issues, is a pluralist system of diverse local, regional and national authorities, over which economic interests and community groups vie for influence. It’s a vibrant, multi-cultural city of great contrasts, and a growing gap between rich and poor. Once a polluting, dirty place, London has cleaned up in the post-industrial era and is leading the country in terms of emissions targets.
These forces are constantly shaping the city, moulding decisions taken by planners and others active in the built environment. This essay will sketch out the arena in which they operate. It will show how these forces came together to shape London’s Olympic bid.
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