Risk, insurance and the making of the contemporary urban landscape : with specific reference to the threat of terrorism in the City of London 1992-1997.
Within urban geography the development of defensive strategies encompassing the
fortification and privatisation of the city has attracted significant attention during the 1990s.
This research is articulated in the light of these recent debates concerning risk, security, and
the spatial restructuring of contemporary Western cities.
In this context, the concern of this thesis is with examining how the perceived risk of
terrorist attack led to changes in the physical form and institutional infrastructure of the City
of London between 1992 and 1997 during which the City was a prime terrorist target. To
undertake this enquiry an urban landscape approach was adopted which took account of the
three interrelated components of landscape - namely form (the arrangement of the built
environment) which is constructed and activated through a number of social, economic, and
political processes that gives the built environment cultural and symbolic meaning.
Methodologically this research was based on a series of interviews with the police, security
experts, insurers, risk managers, terrorism analysts, and other business organisations, as well
as being supplemented by an array of documentary and archival material. Such an approach
provided the framework to interpret the key processes and institutional decisions involved
in the evolution of enhanced City security.
This thesis has explored the formal and informal strategies adopted by a number of key
urban managers as they attempted to reduce both the physical and financial risk of terrorism
through a series of place-specific security initiatives and insurance policies. It is shown
that the terrorist threat led to increased fortification, a substantial rise in terrorism
insurance premiums and changing institutional relations at a variety of spatial scales. It is
argued that these changes were necessary to protect this area from further attack and to
preserve the City's reputation as a global financial centre as well as London's position as
a so-called world city.
Furthermore, this thesis argues that for both political and legal necessity the security
measures deployed were advanced not in terms of an anti-terrorist effort, but in relation to
the unintended by-products of such approaches, namely decreases in general crime,
reduced levels of pollution and enhanced traffic management capabilities.