Subsistent Places; Productive lives

This research project will pursue a critical enquiry into the relationships of informal space, land ownership, and housing practices. It will frame this analysis against a framework of theoretical discourses concerning the political policy, ideology, and domination of the social production of space.

Using a GIS mapping methodology, the research will critically analyse the historical path of housing, land use, and land ownership in the UK, from the 18th and 19th Century Inclosures Acts, the Tithe Commutation Act of 1836, through the Allotments Acts of 1908 and 1922, and finally on to the Town and country Planning Act of 1947. This mapping process will produce a critical analysis the changing patterns and formalisation of space in the UK by analysing a range of case studies of historically informal space drawn from Dennis Hardy and Colin Ward’s 1984 book Arcadia For All. The intersections of this mapping analysis against a framework of critical theory will be explored in order to highlight the social, cultural, economic, and spatial impacts of these successive acts on the UK’s collective social understanding of land ownership, home, and life.

This project will critically question the contemporary housing crisis facing the UK and wider Westernised space. It will determine the social and political consequences of the loss of informal space and housing in the UK, and what can be learnt from the historical successes and failures of informal space in the UK. It will ask what political and planning policy changes are needed to change the unsustainable model of neoliberal housing and formal space that prevails in the UK, and whether we can we use the principles of our informal past to pursue subsistent spaces and productive lives in the future.