Public space privatisation: are users concerned?

Els Leclercq*, Dorina Pojani

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Academics have decried the erosion of public space under the neoliberal practices that have taken root since the 1980s in cities around the world. However, it is unclear whether users are concerned about the ownership of the urban spaces they use. To find out, this study surveyed users and observed their behaviour in three types of public spaces in Liverpool, UK: one entirely private development, one public-private partnership, and one urban renewal project taken over by a grassroots organization. The findings indicate that users appreciate privatised areas for the pleasant, clean, and safe environment they offer, as well as for the socialising opportunities. At the same time, privatised spaces send subtle signals to users that certain activities, people, or behaviours are not tolerated or encouraged. To reinforce the democratic essence of public space, values of appropriation should be safeguarded in all types of urban spaces, including privately produced ones.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Urbanism
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • environmental psychology
  • Liverpool, United Kingdom
  • public space privatization
  • Urban redevelopment
  • user perceptions


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