Land use

Public Space

Public spaces, squares and plazas in our towns and cities can be the heart of a place – providing places to relax and meet friends, but also for cultural gatherings, protests and meetings.  

Well managed public spaces can support local businesses by attracting customers and providing a nice environment for staff. These spaces, while not formal parks, can also create environmental benefits through the use of plants, trees and water features.

Community led approaches to public space vary from the informal – the greening carried out by Guerilla Gardeners, or the edible planting of the Incredible Edible movement, through to protests and occupations of increasingly privatised “public” space, to community-led trusts and social enterprises managing market squares. The newly created green public spaces on new housing developments also have a very important function, and can be managed by the community of people living around them. Community organisations can often see the potential for new public space in what others might consider unpromising “brownfield” land – disused railway lines or sidingscanalside sites and even flyovers.

Shared Assets has worked with Kirklees Council looking at options for community control of this housing green space, and with Jericho Wharf Trust as they develop a potential management and governance model for a new public space in Oxford. We’ve also been reviewing the different ways in which markets can play a role in sustaining public space, and have supported Somers Town Community Association to develop a community economic development plan which had a market at its heart.

We are interested in developing this strand of work and would be keen to hear from developers, housing associations, landowners or community organisations wanting to create really functional, enterprising and sustainable public space.

Scroll down to the posts below to read some of our latest work on public space projects across the country. 

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  • Friends of the Flyover

    Three friends in Liverpool are developing their campaign to transform a heaving flyover that is facing demolition into a green centrepiece and urban park for the city.

  • Jericho Wharf Trust

    For over ten years, the community of Jericho have been fighting to protect and develop a canalside public square. Through their story, we learn how resistance campaigns can use the planning system and work with developers and local authorities to achieve their aims.

Related news and opinion

Blog articles, news and opinion pieces from the Shared Assets team

The Promises & Pitfalls of Resident Management Companies

Green amenity space is a common aspect of housing developments, be they newly built communities, town extensions or traditional council estates. This type of space presents particular management challenges, but also, seen in the right way, lots of opportunities. This blog looks at the ways in which these spaces are managed and governed.

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Creative control

Too often ‘creative-led’ regeneration seems to colonise urban areas, eventually displacing longer term local residents. We’re working with our partners at Kingston University’s Landscape Interface Studio to develop a methodology that supports local residents and creative organisations to collaborate, in order to revitalise local spaces whilst retaining community control.

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Housing Association Land: The Challenges

Open green space often features in social housing sites, be it as communal greens or patches of grass between and around homes. Though full of potential, these spaces can fall into disuse, becoming expensive and anti-social. Could new management arrangements help give them a fresh lease of life?

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Private Utility Corporation Land: The Challenges

Private utility companies may own ‘environmental assets’- land, waterways or coastal areas- that are ancillary to their work. Caring for such spaces can be costly, but not caring for them can be a wasted opportunity.

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