Public London: Investigating the regulation of public spaces

London’s public space is the stage on which the city’s social life is acted out, but the city needs a new settlement for openness and use. Centre for London shares the Mayor of London’s commitment to ensuring open and accessible management of all London’s public spaces, and was pleased to work on an evidence base and recommendations to inform the Mayor’s Public London Charter.


London’s public realm is a shared amenity in a growing city and the place where citizens can come together to meet, to play, to demonstrate, to exercise and to relax.

If London’s open spaces come in many different forms, so does their management. Alongside traditional publicly-managed parks, many new parks and open spaces have been built as planning obligations, and are sometimes – controversially – managed and maintained by private companies.

But the city’s open spaces also face big challenges. London borough spending on parks and open spaces has fallen, and many authorities are looking at new approaches to paying for and managing open spaces, from greater commercial exploitation for private events and concerts, to handing responsibility over to local communities.

At same time pressure on London’s open spaces is growing, as London’s population expands and more of us are living in smaller homes, increasingly without gardens. How do we balance sometimes competing priorities – between runners, families, dog walkers, birdwatchers, gig promoters, personal trainers, barbecue chefs, frisbee players and drinkers? What does good practice in the design and management of public spaces look like

The project was part of the Mayor’s Good Growth by Design programme and gathered evidence from London public spaces to inform the standards to which privately-owned public spaces in London should operate.

Commissioned by the