The research looks at the implications of contracted-out publicness by private management of the urban public realm.

In the last decade, there has been a noticeable increase in alternative public space management arrangements based on transfer and contracting-out of managerial responsibilities to organisations outside the public sector, whether in the shape of community or private trusts, tenants organisations, Business Improvement Districts, or the contracting-out of managerial tasks to private companies or voluntary sector organisations under a variety of arrangements.

This research  alsoseeks to examine how the ‘publicness’ of open, publicly-owned spaces – defined as a function of openness/accessibility and accountability, is affected by the various contractual forms of transfer of public space management tasks from the public sector to private and user-based organisations, and what are the main implications of this process.

The objectives of the research were fourfold:

  • To understand how the key attributes of publicness (i.e. openness, access and accountability issues) are dealt with in public realm management contracts and how roles and responsibilities for them are allocated.
  • To examine how those attributes are dealt with the day-to-day implementation of the contracts.
  • To investigate whether and how those management arrangements and their implementation affect publicness attributes in what way.
  • To reveal the implications of ‘contracted-out publicness’ for key stakeholders’ objectives and aspirations.


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