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Public Space Management: Present and Potential

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This paper explores approaches to the management of external public space, both now and in the future. The paper is in five parts. The discussion begins with an exploration of why public space management is universally an important concern by drawing from literature that argues that the quality of public space has declined, and that a greater engagement of the public sector in its management is required. Next, the research methodology is discussed which sought to investigate the management of public space in England as an example of trends and responses that point to a broader international concern. The approach included both a national survey of the state of play in public space management and a series of case studies that sought to explore innovative practice. Third, the results of a national survey are briefly outlined, with discussion following the same structure as the survey itself. Next, the results of detailed interviews with 20 local authority case studies that exhibited interesting or innovative practice in the local management of public space are presented. In a final part, conclusions are drawn which confirm that this is an area of public sector responsibility in need of significant investment and reform, but also that top-down initiatives from national government are beginning to inspire a burgeoning range of local government initiatives below. Therefore, although public space management remains a fragmented area of local government activity, a number of local authorities are beginning to establish a corresponding bottom-up agenda that seems to map a potential way forward for the future.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: The Bartlett School of Planning, University College London, UK

Publication date: January 1, 2006

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