The contemporary urban commons - A case study of Darling Harbour, Sydney

Boydell, Spike and Searle, Glen (2010). The contemporary urban commons - A case study of Darling Harbour, Sydney. In: P. Chynoweth and J. Adshead, Papers on Law and Dispute Resolution. COBRA 2010 RICS International Research Conference: Legal Research Symposium, Paris, France, (809-826). 2-3 September 2010.

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Author Boydell, Spike
Searle, Glen
Title of paper The contemporary urban commons - A case study of Darling Harbour, Sydney
Conference name COBRA 2010 RICS International Research Conference: Legal Research Symposium
Conference location Paris, France
Conference dates 2-3 September 2010
Proceedings title Papers on Law and Dispute Resolution
Journal name COBRA 2010 - Construction, Building and Real Estate Research Conference of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors
Place of Publication Paris, France
Publisher RICS; CIB W113
Publication Year 2010
Sub-type Fully published paper
ISBN 9781842196199
Editor P. Chynoweth
J. Adshead
Start page 809
End page 826
Total pages 18
Language eng
Formatted Abstract/Summary
This paper reports on research funded by the RICS Education Trust. We offer an
analysis of the contested state of contemporary urban commons in an Australian city,
through a case study of the Darling Harbour scheme in Sydney. Moral claims of
‘ownership’ often outweigh legal claims of ownership in the scarce public spaces that
comprise the contemporary urban commons. We question if these contemporary
commons provide a counter-weight to the privatised rigidities of urban capitalist

Our research design incorporated an analytical hierarch process (AHP) to test a ‘mosaic’
of property rights in the contested commons. This mosaic essentially comprises a
spectrum of property rights, resulting in a variety of contemporary ‘commons’ that
range from spaces with unrestricted public access to private leasehold property with
limited public access rights. We identify several distinct types of commons at Darling
Harbour. We engaged an Expert Choice analysis of interview data to ascertain the
relative importance of each kind of property right for users and lessees of different kinds
of spaces in Darling Harbour. This enables Darling Harbour to be mapped as a
heterogeneous commons comprising a set of spaces that each has their own distinctive
mosaic of predominant perceived property rights.
Keyword Property rights
Contemporary commons
Q-Index Code E1
Q-Index Status Provisional Code
Institutional Status UQ

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Created: Fri, 18 Mar 2011, 10:21:54 EST by Helen Smith on behalf of School of Geography, Planning & Env Management