The Contemporary Commons: understanding competing property rights

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Conference Proceeding
State of Australian Cities (SOAC) Conference, 2007, pp. 1087 - 1096
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The city comprises a milieu of competing and complementary property rights, ranging from the individual to the communal. Whilst property rights provide a coherent legal, economic and social framework for the relationship between people, place and property, they are often misunderstood and misinterpreted by the multiplicity of stakeholders sharing the space that is the contemporary metropolis. The competing demands and expectations on space, exacerbated by the needs of urban consolidation in the evolving Australian cityscape, add to the confusion. The heterogeneous nature of the commons, both in composition and extent in different urban contexts, is discussed as a central issue in competition for property rights. The paper explores frameworks for identifying appropriate divisions between individual property rights and those of communities and society in general. It also discusses the appropriateness of controls, markets, voluntary agreement and other mechanisms for allocating property rights in urban development contexts. By combining planning, economics and property theory perspectives, this paper identifies research gaps relating to the contemporary commons, providing an agenda prioritising property rights for future research funding.
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