Wastes and Strays: the past, present and future of English urban commons

Wastes and Strays is an AHRC funded, interdisciplinary 3-year project that will study distinctively ‘urban’ commons in England, and identify and promote their value as publicly accountable, green, open spaces vital for culture, health, wellbeing and biodiversity in metropolitan contexts. In doing so, it will develop a multifaceted yet rigorous definition of the urban common, fit for the twenty-first century.

The project is contextualised against the unique history of urban commons as economically and politically negotiated spaces within the complex context of English land ownership. Navigating contemporary issues of public and private, austerity and health, and competing ideologies (from commercial development, to controlled leisure and health activities, to ‘rewilding’) for the future of common land, the research will combine new historical, literary, legal and creative scholarship to activate and harness greater public identification and engagement with urban commons as valuable community green space.

Investigator: Alessandro Zambelli