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.
Click herefor the full map.
We’re asking readers to add to our map of privatised public spaces in Britain.
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 security?
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.
To add a place to our map via n0tice.com
To add your own location is a quick and simple process as follows:
– on the first visit you need to sign-up to n0tice.com. You can do this via your existing Facebook or Twitter accounts or by creating a user name and entering your email address.
– once logged in, go to www.privatepublicspace.n0tice.com and click on ‘post a new report’
– you will be presented with a short form to complete asking for the basic details about location etc. please try to include as much information as you can for example, how do you know it’s private space?
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