The encroaching privatisation of key urban spaces that have traditionally been part of the public domain could undermine the quality of life as well as charm and allure of some of the world's leading cities.

According to Harry Smith, Associate Professor and Director of Planning and Real Estate, Heriot-Watt University, municipal governments around the globe are increasingly ceding ownership or control of their flagship urban areas to private interests. Smith believes that a significant factor behind this trend is the need for cash-strapped municipal authorities to resort to novel…