Granby Four Streets

| Helen Sharp

“This is the story of a determined community, who protected their own houses and all the empty ones around them from multiple failed regeneration and demolition initiatives”.

Ronnie Hughes, Granby Four Streets board member

After the riots in 1981, the streets of Toxteth in inner-city Liverpool went into decline and its housing, services and residents suffered with it. The situation was compounded by a series of failed regeneration plans, leaving the streets drained of life.

After 30 years of neglect, the local community decided to take action; they started cleaning, planting and painting their streets and over 100 boarded up terraced houses in them. They set up a vibrant monthly market and they campaigned to stop the demolition of the last four remaining original streets.

Now they have established a community land trust, Granby Four Streets CLT, taking ownership of the derelict properties from the Council and are working with an architecture collective called Assemble to work on the renovation of the existing houses. Assemble are bold and fearless in their designs and they’ve worked very closely with the local residents to interpret their vision; if a floor is missing, why not leave it out and have a double-height space? A second phase of work, planned for the next street along, imagines a spectacular winter garden within the empty brick shell of a gutted house.

The plans for the regeneration were kept deliberately simple so that local young people could get involved in the construction process and out of the first 10 homes, five were put up for market sale while the other five were available for affordable rent to members of the CLT.

In 2015, the project won the Turner Prize, the country’s most prestigious art award. The nomination was for Assemble’s ‘ongoing collaboration with local residents’. This is the first time the Turner Prize has been won not for a specific work of art but for a way of creating art, with and as part of the community.

“It completely turned the atmosphere around: now we had a pretty street that we could all be proud of, even if it was still empty”.

Local resident

Photo by Tina Rataj-Berard

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