|Title||Justifying and resisting public park commercialisation: The battle for Battersea Park|
Urban parks have always been contested and contradictory spaces: highly ordered and elitist, yet valued as democratic places and public amenities. In an era of neoliberal austerity there are greater pressures for parks to pay for themselves and the associated commercialisation often exacerbates conflicts between park users and managing authorities. This paper focuses on how their increased use as venues for commercial events affects the publicness of urban parks. This issue is explored via the case of Battersea Park in London which was used as a venue for Formula E motor races in 2015 and 2016. These events disrupted park access during race weekends, but also in the periods when the venue was assembled / disassembled. The events were resisted by a community action group whose campaigning eventually resulted in the decision by Formula E to cease racing in Battersea Park. The paper analyses how Formula E events were justified and opposed using a form of rhetorical analysis inspired by the work of Michael Billig. Interviews were undertaken with key stakeholders involved in the case and their arguments were analysed to reveal different ways of thinking about public parks. The dispute is understood as one underpinned by different interpretations of who and what a park is for, and by contrasting views on the impact of interruptions to everyday routines. The Formula E events reduced public access, but the dispute surrounding the events arguably made Battersea Park more public by generating debate and by provoking local activists to defend their park.
|Keywords||Parks, events Formula E, discourse, resistance, public space, green space,|
|Journal||European Urban and Regional Studies|
|Accepted author manuscript||AS EURS paper v3.pdf|
|Digital Object Identifier (DOI)||doi:10.1177/0969776418767731|
|Published online||04 Apr 2018|