By David Quinn Thursday for Regeneration and Renewal: 26 May 2011
A London Assembly committee has issued a report calling for enhanced protection of public spaces.
The report, Public life in private hands, found the private management of public realm leads to a sense of exclusion by residents, who feel that such spaces are overly regulated.
The Assembly’s Planning and Housing Committee is calling for London mayor Boris Johnson to develop new planning guidance and to deploy existing powers to keep public realm as open as possible.
Nicky Gavron, deputy chair of the committee, said:
The line between public and private places has become blurred as what should be in effect public space is increasingly subject to private management.
For London to become a sustainable city we must expect higher densities of development, which means more people sharing our spaces, but we must not compromise the democratic principle of open and equitable access to the public realm.
A key cause for concern for the committee was the tendency of developers of major schemes to seek control of public realm, especially where there is a retail element.
The committee cited one example of a scheme in Southwark, which is said to be locked at night with “fortress-like gates”.
The report recommends that supplementary planning guidance on public realm is developed once the Draft London Plan is adopted and that “meaningful” agreements should be drawn up between developers and local authorities over use of public realm.