From regeneration and grassroots activism to privatisation and security, public space in Europe’s cities is shaped by a variety of urban developments. Share your stories of the changes you’re seeing with GuardianWitness
There has been a significant backlash recently in London about the loss of public space, as green parks, open-air squares and riverside paths become victims of private ownership. Last month, campaigners took part in a “mass trespass” outside City Hall – a site where even photography may be restricted by private security – to protest against the chunks of the capital falling into private hands.
But what is happening in the rest of the continent? Are other urban European spaces becoming more exclusive? Last spring in Belgrade, protestors took to the streets to campaign against the €3.5bn (£2.5bn) redevelopment of the Sava River waterfront, which will include thousands of homes, a business hub and the Balkan’s largest shopping mall – but residents are concerned that the government-backed project will be a Dubai-style makeover.
In Paris, on the other hand, a project in the suburb of Colombes has been developing a “bottom-up strategy of resilient regeneration” since 2012, which includes the citizen management of 5,000 sq metres of land, including food production and community activities.
In April, a special meeting will be held to discuss public space ahead of the the United Nations’ conference on housing and sustainable urban development later this year, Habitat III. At a time when concerns for public safety mix with a desire to see fewer controlled and regulated urban places, how is the nature of public space in European cities changing? What’s improving and what’s getting worse? Share your stories, thoughts and photographs using GuardianWitness (just click on the blue “contribute” button). We’ll round up some of your contributions on Guardian Cities.