Privately Owned Public Space, London

This rather sad patch of land once sat outside a supermarket in the Old Street area of east London. The area has subsequently been redesigned. The sign tells us that the street area is being maintained by the supermarket. This is one of the first signs of how public space is privatised using a technique imported from the US by creating BIDs. 


A BID is a defined area within which businesses pay an additional tax or fee in order to fund improvements within the district's boundaries. These include cleaning, security, design and ongoing maintenance. BIDs are a very successful way of privatising public space, spaces that were formerly maintained by the city. The first BID was created in the US in the 1970s. Since then they have been successfully rolled out across the US and in recent years exported to the UK and elsewhere.