Wastes and Strays...on the Road

Siobhan Marie O'Neill, Alessandro Zambelli, Christopher Rodgers, Rachel Hammersley, John Clarke, Armelle Tardiveau, Daniel Mallo, Graham Perring, Livi Dee, Sarah Collins

Research output: Non-textual formExhibition


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

What is it About?
Wastes and Strays is a research project that has been carried out by the universities of Newcastle, Portsmouth, Exeter, and Sheffield. It was funded for three years by the Art and Humanities Research Council. A team of creative practitioners, architects, and other specialists, including historians, archaeologists, and legal experts, are studying the urban common’s unique history, current legal status and value for future health, biodiversity, and wellbeing.

Why Urban Commons?
Urban Commons have different legal backgrounds and use-value, and the definition of a ‘common’ is often misunderstood. Many urban commons have been lost, neglected, or underused, and the project looked at four diverse examples of the distinctively ‘urban’ common to provide a robust base for education initiatives and future public policy guidance informing their development and use as diverse cultural and ecological spaces. Urban commons have always reflected shifts in social and cultural attitudes and traditions, and have long been sites of debate and negotiation, but their future in the contemporary urban context is unclear. The project explored the complex social and political history of the urban common, as well as its legal and cultural status today. The project emphasised that only through a deep understanding of the past and rigorous engagement with present users, can we devise new futures of culture, wellbeing, and diversity for the urban commons.

Local Knowledge
A key part of the research involved working with city dwellers to share local knowledge of four urban commons: Clifton Down, Bristol; Mousehold Heath, Norwich; Town Moor, Newcastle upon Tyne; and Valley Gardens, Brighton.
In addition, art and design students from Newcastle University, the University of Brighton and the University of Portsmouth contributed their responses to the project and to the commons through the design of small and large scale practical and fanciful structures and community engagement activities.

Explore our website, Wastes and Strays, for more information on the project:
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNewcastle, Bristol, Brighton and Norwich
PublisherNewcastle University
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2022


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