Temporary Use in England’s Core Cities: Looking beyond the Exceptional

Michael Martin, Stephen Hincks, Iain Deas

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This paper develops an understanding of the structural and spatial characteristics of regulated forms of temporary use across England’s core cities. The paper’s contribution lies in its adoption of an extensive research design that goes beyond the intensive qualitative approaches that predominate in the temporary use literature. We employ a novel data set of 5890 temporary use interventions that have been recorded over a 15-year period (2000–2015). Informed by the temporary use literature, we distinguish between ‘extraordinary’ (e.g. urban beaches) and ‘ordinary’ (e.g. car parks) forms of temporary use alongside other characteristics that include the time of occurrence, the function of space appropriated, decisions taken and whether instances were isolated or reoccurring. Logistic regression is used to test whether the odds that a temporary use was defined as ‘ordinary’ or ‘extraordinary’ increased or decreased owing to their underlying structural characteristics. The analysis revealed that applications for extraordinary temporary uses increased in the period following the 2007/2008 financial crisis but that ordinary forms of temporary uses remained much more common before and after the recession. It also revealed differences between ordinary and extraordinary uses in relation to the functions of the spaces appropriated and decisions taken by the planning authority in processing the application. Geospatial approaches were then applied to two case study cities – Bristol and Liverpool. The analysis revealed a tendency towards the clustering of temporary uses that was spatially and temporally uneven, with extraordinary uses in particular concentrated in the cores/downtowns of the two cities.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3381-3401
Number of pages21
JournalUrban Studies
Issue number16
Early online date18 Feb 2020
Publication statusPublished - 18 Feb 2020


  • built environment
  • land use
  • method
  • planning
  • redevelopment
  • regeneration
  • temporary urbanism
  • temporary use


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