Public space is a right not a privilege; yet Britain is in the midst of the biggest sell-off of common space since the enclosures of the 17th and 18th century
The public spaces of London, the collective assets of the city’s citizens, are being sold to corporations – privatised – without explanation or apology. The process has been strategically engineered to seem necessary, benign and even inconsequential, but behind the veil, the simple fact is this: the United Kingdom is in the midst of the largest sell-off of common space since the enclosures of the 17th and 18th century, and London is the epicentre of the fire sale.
Cities shape our experiences. As we drift through the winding streets of our capital, our mood is affected by the bustling, menacing or inert environments we encounter. Stumbling upon a quiet square in the middle of a busy day can feel like finding water in the desert. In the days and weeks that follow, we might seek that spot instead of chancing across it, making it ‘ours’ in a meaningful way. Over years living in a city, we all weave mental maps of the squares, parks, paths and gardens where we pause, recharge, and meet. These are our public spaces.