Sunday, 21 February 2016

The new enclosures >>> the commons and privatizing public space

The EDW blog has recently featured a piece on 'the threat to public spaces':
The privatisation of public spaces – a fast-growing threat | East Devon Watch

This highlights points from a longer piece in the Guardian on the disappearance of the public park and public open space:
Reimagining park life: how Britain’s green spaces are scrambling for cash | Cities | The Guardian

And is very much in the context of proposals from the District Council to 'maximize its assets'.

This is very much on the agenda now:
Transformation Strategy - eastdevon.gov.uk
Council plan 2016-2020 text only version - Introduction - East Devon
Would you call this a “Transformation Strategy”? Or “slash and burn”? | East Devon Watch

And it has been very much on the agenda for some time now:
Futures Forum: East Devon and the expropriation of public space
Futures Forum: The District Council and its assets: to 'release assets' or to 'invest in assets'?
Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: selling off assets for £1

With some areas in the District being eyed up as very attractive public spaces to sell off:

Futures Forum: Public Space

This is certainly being considered much more in the current attempt by local authorities to make up for losses in central government grants:

Parks are not a statutory provision for local authorities, and so they are cut to the bone. A report by the Heritage Lottery Fund last year found that 45% of councils are considering either selling their green spaces or transferring their management to private businesses.


Public parks under threat | Heritage Lottery Fund
Why I’m going ape about the privatisation of children’s play | Lucy Mangan | Opinion | The Guardian

wever, there are clear advantages to keeping space public:

Sanders ran under the slogan "Burlington is not for sale" and successfully supported a plan that redeveloped the waterfront area into a mixed-use district featuring housing, parks, and public space.[58] Today the waterfront area includes many parks and miles of public beach and bike paths, a boathouse and science center,[58] and Burlington is reported to be one of the most livable cities in the nation.[59][60]

Futures Forum: Plans for Port Royal: ideas for 'mixed use' projects >>> >>> Burlington's Lake Champlain

There are struggles over public space happening everywhere:
The city that privatised itself to death | Ian Martin | Cities | The Guardian
Activists aim to reclaim public space with Beirut sit-in
Transforming Public Spaces in Nicaragua | Opinion | teleSUR English

Investigative journalist Anna Minton has given us useful context: 
The privatisation of public space

It's of intense academic interest:
2.6 Privatizing Public Space - University of Amsterdam | Coursera
Public Space and Urban Life | Sustainable Cities Collective
Our Parks Are Not for Sale: From the Gold Coast of New York to the Venice Biennale | Dissent Magazine
DAVID HARVEY | Rebel Cities: From the Right to the City to the Urban Revolution | MARIA SFYRAKH - Academia.edu

Finally, this study looks at 'privately owned public space' and the limitations that brings:

The Privatization of Public Space: 

the New Enclosures

Timothy Weaver 

University of Louisville



One of the striking responses to the Occupy Movement of 2011 was the use of legal injunctions to prevent protest from occurring in places from Canary Wharf and Paternoster Square, both hubs of London’s financial services industry, to New York's Chase-Manhattan Plaza.

But these cases are not outliers, but instead reflect the decades-long neoliberalization of public space, which has often been promoted by the state itself, ostensibly acting in the public interest. The rise of privately owned public spaces (POPS) is politically consequential since this institution circumscribes citizens’ freedom of assembly and expression in places that are understood to be public. But the privatization of public space is not merely limited to POPS. Indeed, it is argued here that such murky institutions are just one expression of a far more pervasive phenomenon of enclosure of public space. These new enclosures, I argue, are novel variations on a centuries-old theme by which access to common or public land has been curtailed by aristocratic elites.

The new enclosures have occurred along four important dimensions, each of which are detailed in this paper in order to provide an analytic framework for theorizing about the privatization of public space. The first dimension, "enclosure for profit," involves the transfer of publicly owned land or resources to private entities seeking to enhance the “exchange value” of the space or of the resources associated with it. This is what most people mean by the term privatization.

The second kind of privatization involves the "enclosure of behavior." Whereas enclosure for profit is about the transformation of ownership rights, this second dimension of enclosure involves rules that police the boundaries of acceptable behavior within a space. While this would include the state-regulation of publicly owned spaces, of particular interest here is the enclosure, through the regulation of use, by private entities which control POPS, such as those that prevented public demonstrations by Occupy movement protesters. In the first two types, enclosure does not involve the physical fencing-in of the private to prevent entry of the public; indeed part of the appeal of privately-owned public spaces is that people’s quotidian interaction with them conveys the sense that they are indistinguishable from public spaces, except safer, better maintained, and free of poverty. However, as this paper will show, such a sanguine assumption soon evaporates when the public attempts to use such spaces for political purposes, rather than for work or consumption.

In the third mode -- "enclosure of communities" -- that involves the new fences of gated communities, there is no such pretense of being public places. In order to gain entry, one usually has to gain permission of private residents behind the physical fences. The fourth and final type of enclosure to be investigated here, which I call the "enclosure of the public realm," involves the rebranding of public property in a private guise. I use the renaming of Pattison station, a Philadelphia public subway stop, as AT&T station to illustrate this method of enclosure.

Each form of enclosure hampers the ability of urban citizens and residents to criticize and reshape the city and thereby circumscribe what Lefebvre and Harvey call our “right to the city.”

The Privatization of Public Space: the New Enclosures by Timothy Weaver :: SSRN

It's all about 'the commons':
Futures Forum: The triumph of the commons
Futures Forum: The Commons: 'it's very much now' in Cumbria and Exmoor

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