University of Hertfordshire

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What is public space and who has the right to use it? This research is a major
rethinking of the history of public space in England. Contemporary urban regeneration and social protest movements have raised urgent questions over the ownership, policing and uses of sites where people meet, play and protest. But often such debates lack full consideration of how contested sites have been shaped by much longer histories of planning, legislation and local resistance. This project analyses the long-term development of public space from enclosure in the 18th century, 19th century experiments to new towns in the 20th century. It will forge a new direction in urban history, bringing together a wide range of planning and social history sources.
By delivering a monograph and creating community-produced histories at public
workshops, it will actively engage with current and future debates about the uses of public space.


  • a history of public space in England



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