Privately owned public space: where are they and who owns them?
mail at vegburner.co.uk
Mon Jun 24 17:45:45 BST 2013
post at (with a lot of discussion not posted below)
Help us to create a map of privatised public spaces in Britain so we can
see just how much of land is under corporate control
We're in the middle of a creeping privatisation of public space. Streets
and open spaces are being defined as private land after redevelopment.
It began with Canary Wharf but is now a standard feature of urban
regeneration. In future, one of the biggest public squares in Europe -
Granary square, in the new development around Kings Cross - will be
privately owned. There are privatised public zones across Britain, from
Brindleyplace in Birmingham to Liverpool One.
It's not easy to track the scale of this change. You can search the land
registries covering England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but
you have to do it one location at a time - and there's a cost attached.
Local authorities keep a register of streets which lists whether it is
part of the public highway or is private. This list includes open spaces
in the form of squares, but not parks. But this is only available to
organisations which coordinate street works.
We're asking readers to add to our map of privatised public spaces in
For the purposes of this project, we are not looking at enclosed
shopping malls - only open spaces, from streets and city squares to
village greens, beaches and riverbanks, where there's a reasonable
expectation that the space might be public.
The way to begin is by looking at re-developed spaces near you. Often,
there'll be signs informing you that the land is private. There are
three ways of confirming ownership - via the Land Registry in England
and Wales (but you have to pay £4 for the details online, £8 for a
printed version), by contacting your local authority, or by getting in
touch with the developer. In Scotland, the public has access, for a fee,
to land ownership records at the Registers of Scotland which can only be
inspected in person.
When you've identified a privately owned street, park, square or beach -
contact us here with as much detail as you have - the name of the
location, a postcode. Even if you can't get any confirmation beyond the
private property notice, that would be a good starting point for our
reporting. You're welcome to send in pictures and commentary too - is
there a sign saying its publicly owned? Is the public space truly
welcoming to the public? Is the space gated or patrolled by private
This isn't necessarily an alarming development. Private investment can
revive run-down public areas. But it's one we need to be aware of.
Here's our online noticeboard for you to add details. Join the Twitter
conversation by using the hash tag #keeppublic.
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