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Collaborative Governance or Common Property? New Forms for Managing Urban Green Space in the UK

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Abram, Simone
Conference: The City as a Commons: Reconceiving Urban Space, Common Goods and City Governance, 1st Thematic IASC Conference on Urban Commons
Location: Bologna, Italy
Conf. Date: November 6-7
Date: 2015
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10535/9960
Sector: Urban Commons
Region: Europe
Subject(s): parks
urban commons
Abstract: "This paper addresses a new form of urban commoning that displaces the state's role as the only reliable owner and steward of urban greenspace in public use. The state, at central and local levels in England, has now largely withdrawn from its enabling role for private actors managing collective resources such as urban green space; and the state's regulatory oversight is also weakening. In this paper we present a case study of a park in inner-city Sheffield (Yorkshire, in the north of England). This park was created from urban wasteland and is owned and managed by the Heeley Development Trust (HDT), of which both authors are trustees. The trust is now addressing the challenge of funding park maintenance by reinventing the Victorian model of a public subscription society. Through this case study the paper engages with three interlinked issues that are key to the 'city as commons' theme: ownership (in both legal and popular understandings of that term); the complex collaboration between public, private and third sectors; and democratic forms of governance. The paper is structured as follows. The first section provides an overview discussion of the urban commons literature, and the meanings of public, private and common property. The second section sets the context for the case study: Sheffield and Heeley, and the original commoning of the land now owned by HDT. The third section analyses what is distinct about HDT, and the final section considers the current 're-commoning' of the park through a subscription society. The paper concludes with some thoughts and further questions on the issues of ownership, governance, democracy and trust."

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