Privately Owned Public Space

GiGL has identified and released the first Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS) dataset for London, working with our partner data contributors and the Guardian Cities team.

With the support of the GLA this dataset is available under an open data licence via the London data store. You can also download the data here.

POPS form a part of London’s open spaces landscape and a unique part of the public realm. By making this dataset for London open and supporting its development, GiGL hope to inform public awareness about POPS with a spatial evidence base. Media and business can access and use this data to inform debate and discussion. Public sector land managers can use it to gain insights into the public space resource beyond their borders, to support local open space and green infrastructure planning and access.

It is a preliminary dataset locating open spaces in London identified by research and data analysis as POPS, based on our definition below and available data at the time of collation. GiGL will continue to update underlying Open Space data and refresh the POPS dataset with new information as it becomes available.

GiGL combined the results from discussion with the Guardian team, and extensive literature review, to create the following definition of POPS in Greater London:

Privately Owned Public Spaces (POPS): publicly accessible spaces which are provided and maintained by private developers, offices or residential building owners. They include city squares, atriums and small parks. The spaces provide several functional amenities for the public. They are free to enter and may be open 24 hours or have restricted access arrangements. Whilst the spaces look public, there are often restraints to use.

For the Greater London dataset no consideration is taken as to a site’s formal status in planning considerations, and only unenclosed POPS are included.

POPS may be destination spaces, which attract visitors from outside of the space’s immediate area and are designed for use by a broad audience, or neighbourhood spaces, which draw residents and employees from the immediate locale and are usually strongly linked with the adjacent street or host building. These spaces are of high quality and include a range of amenities. The POPS may also be a hiatus space, accommodating the passing user for a brief stop only – for example it may include seating but few other amenities, a circulation space, designed to improve a pedestrian’s journey from A to B, or a marginal space, which whilst a public space is not very accommodating and experiences low levels of usage. (Ref: Privately Owned Public Space: The New York City Experience, by Jerold S. Kayden, The New York City Department of City Planning, and the Municipal Art Society of New York, published by John Wiley & Sons, 2000).