Supplementary memorandum by Commission
for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) (PPG 26(a))
ADDENDUM TO MEMORANDUM OF EVIDENCE OF THE
COMMISSION FOR ARCHITECTURE AND THE BUILT ENVIRONMENT (CABE)
As part of its contribution to HM Treasury's
current cross-cutting review on improving the public space (being
carried out as part of the 2002 Comprehensive Spending Review)
CABE has submitted ideas for how local and central government
can contribute to achieving high standards in the design and management
of public space.
Formulating ideas about these topics has necessitated
some thought about definitions. As the consultation paper on revisions
to PPG 17 itself notes, open space has been defined in legislation,
but in a way that is too exclusive to accommodate all of what
is commonly regarded as open space. Non-legislative
definitions have naturally tended to be wider. A recent definition
has proposed that open space is "any unbuilt land within
the boundary of a village, town or city which provides, or has
the potential to provide, environmental, social and/or economic
benefits to communities, whether direct or indirect".
Equally, there is no universally accepted definition
of public space.
For the purposes of its work for HM Treasury, CABE has defined
public space as "space that is normally accessible to
the public and from which private ownership of land is excluded
in the interest of a public good".
This accommodates two concepts that recur in
discussions about public space: the concept of accessibility and
the concept of public value.
On the first point, CABE's working definition
of public space excludes space that is not accessible to the public
at any time, but it does not require public access to be unlimited;
public gardens, for example, may be locked at night and there
are other areas, such as the foyers of public buildings, that
are normally but not always accessible to the public.
On the second point, the definition also implies
that some public benefitnot necessarily materialderives
from public space. This does not necessarily mean that it is actively
managed and maintained; some space that is entirely unmanaged
may be used by the public as, for example, an informal recreation
area. But for the term "public space" to be applied
meaningfully, there must be some social, environmental or even
economic value (actual or potential) accruing to the public from
the space's existence. In this sense, public space must in some
way deliver aspirations and contribute to public amenity.
The definition places public space as something
qualitatively different from open space, although the two may
and often will overlap. The key difference is that open space
can in CABE's view be privately owned, can offer no or very limited
access to the public; and can exist independently of whether benefit
accrues to the public from its existence.
1 The consultation paper states that "while open
space is defined in the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, as
land laid out as a public garden, or used for the purpose of public
recreation, or land which is a disused burial ground, there are
other kinds of public and private open space. This guidance is
intended to apply to all types of open space of public value".
Revision of Planning Policy Guidance Note (PPG) 17 Sport, Open
Space and Recreation-Consultation Paper DTLR (2001) Back
Kit Campbell Associates (2001) Rethinking Open Space, Open
Space Provision and Management: A Way Forward. A Report for
the Scottish Executive Central Research Unit Back
As is evident from recent research commissioned by DTLR, Literature
Review of Public Space and Local Environment for the Cross-Cutting
Review, Oxford Centre for Sustainable Development (2001) Back