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Privately owned public spaces need new London plan rules

Public spaces owned by private companies are quietly spreading thorough London. Under current laws, landowners decide who has public access, an unusual planning rule which should be revised.

Assembly Members agreed a motion 07 September 2017 urging Mayor Sadiq Khan to show more transparency in the next London Plan, when allocating public spaces to the private sector.

 

Sian Berry AM, who proposed the motion said:

“The secretive way private owners of public places, like our parks and squares, set rules for the public must be made transparent.

Even City Hall – the seat of the democratically-elected Mayor and London Assembly – is surrounded by 13-acres of the privately-owned More London development, which means that this outdoor ‘public space’ is controlled by corporate rules and not the law of the land.

Being able to know what rules you are being governed by, and how to challenge them, is a fundamental part of democracy.”

 

Nicky Gavron AM, who proposed the amended motion said:

"Increasingly, London's public space is in private hands and there is very little transparency around which individuals and groups can have access. These are Londoners' outdoor living rooms and it is appalling that access can be restricted.

It is vital this is dealt with in the Mayor's forthcoming London Plan and that city-wide transparent, accountable and uniform guidance for setting the rules for how these spaces are governed should be issued.”

 

The full text of the Motion is:

“This Assembly welcomes the Mayor’s comments in response to revelations about the extent of privately owned public space in London and the non-transparent way private owners of public squares and parks set rules for the public.

The Deputy Mayor for Planning, Regeneration and Skills told the Guardian newspaper the Mayor’s new London Plan would seek to “maximise access and minimise restrictions, as well as enabling planners to establish potential restrictions at the application stage for new developments”.

This Assembly believes that the next London Plan should go further and establish real public transparency and accountability for setting rules to govern these spaces through the lifetime of developments, not just at the application stage.

The Assembly therefore calls upon the Mayor to ensure that the aspirations set out in his Public London initiative are enshrined in the London Plan so that transparent, accountable and uniform guidance can be provided across London.”