In my earlier post a few days ago, I wrote about the background to the widespread privatisation of public space. In this second part I look at some of the activist and political responses.
It is the essence of public freedom: a place to rally, to protest, to sit and contemplate, to smoke or talk or watch the stars. No matter what happens in the shops and cafes, the offices and houses, the existence of public space means there is always somewhere to go to express yourself or simply to escape. … From parks to pedestrian streets, squares to market places, public spaces are being bought up and closed down.
One of the issues that the Occupy movement has brought into sharp focus is that of city land and its ownership. On Wall Street, Zuccotti Park is owned privately but heavily constrained by covenants. Occupy LSX ended up camped on ground partly by St Paul’s Cathedral and partly by the City of London Corporation because Paternoster Square, where the London Stock Exchange is located, is private land. In practice, urban land is increasingly owned or managed by private interests, even when it appears to be public space. This is a new enclosure movement.