A Tale of Two Cities

The Greater London Authority Act 1999 places responsibility for strategic planning in London on the Mayor, and requires them to produce a strategy for the development of London over the next 20 to 25 years, and to keep it under review.

This strategy is illustrated with a number of maps and diagrams under what is called the London Plan – in essence an illustration of the Mayor’s views on the present state of the city, as well as of their grand designs for London’s future.

The London Plan is a fascinating data source, covering a great span of urban management issues such as security, population and communities, wealth and poverty, sustainability and pollution, architecture and design.

It is also, however, a striking example of how cartographic conventions can be used to manipulate the interpretation of social and spatial data. The present series aims at recycling the London Plan cartographic data into a simplistic graphic ratio system, hence ironically displaying an emotional interpretation of urban issues, in the shape of a rational looking representation system.

London Plan Green Park Area Map 2004

London Plan Poverty Map

London Plan Population Non-White Census Statistics 2001

London Plan Active Jobless Jobseekers Allowance Map 2010

The resulting composite map is a distorted and stigmatising vision of London’s “no go zones”.

Under the guise of a scientific visualization, it arbitrarily designates a set of inner-city neighbourhoods as areas of concentrated disadvantage, poverty, segregation, and inequality.

London Plan Composite Map Flora Mitjavile

For a full view of the present and past grand designs for the city of London, and the distinctively skewed visions of its successive Mayors, visit the London Plan website.


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