And so, on 9th October 2014 it all came together, and ‘the chink of light’ we spoke about four springtimes ago shone brightly on Granby 4 Streets as history turned up and witnessed the community of the place, at long last, take a formal stake in the future. Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust is launched with ‘Our First 10 Homes’ project.
Liverpool Mutual Homes are already on site on one side of the street.
Here is Erika Rushton of Plus Dane, also on site elsewhere in the 4 Streets. Erika is Chair of the Community Land Trust.
Jimi has lived in the 4 Streets all his life, is a CLT Board member and is viewed by us all as the Community Historian.
The children of the place, the future of the place, open up the future with their drums.
Alalstair from Beatlife, conducting today, tells us that several of the children have only had 3 drumming lessons so far. And for all of them it’s their first gig. Like us all they are entering a new place today. And they do so with great confidence.
At this point the ‘sunny intervals’ are replaced by a serious deluge. So the hundred and more of us here huddle together under the gazebos for the speeches.
“Old problems need new solutions – and in developing the Granby 4 Streets area, we have worked with a complex mix of partners to pull together a major refurbishment programme. Granby 4 Streets is at the forefront of the Urban Community Land Trust movement in the North West – and we are proud to support it”.
Ann O’Byrne, Cabinet Member for Housing, Liverpool City Council
Theresa MacDermott was part of the Granby Residents Association’s successful fight to block the demolition of the 4 Streets in 1994, worked for Shelter for years, and is now on the Board of the CLT and one of the principal organisers of the 4 Streets Market.
Des got in touch with me through the blog late last year because Granby is also a special place to him. Between 1968 and 1972 Des ran the Shelter Neighbourhood Action Project here, working with the then small local housing associations and all the residents to show that a neighbourhood approach to renewal could work. And though Granby has had its ups and downs since then, it’s also true to say of Des that without him these streets might not be here at all. One of the spirits of the place and so right and fitting that he is here on this historic day.
Who, though she’ll likely and skillfully curse me for saying it, is the driving spirit of the Community Land Trust.
Bringing the spirit of the 4 Streets Markets to the occasion.
He also speaks to a good many of the rest of us, me and Jimi giving him a potted history of the place. (I’ll link to his article when it’s published.)
People, partners, funders, project managers, architects, builders, friends and influencers. All the people we’d long hoped to pull together to pull this off. As Eleanor has said:
“This is a new kind of organisational structure developed to bring about the long-term social and economic regeneration of our neighbourhood, through the acquisition of community-owned assets. Any profits will be fed back into the community to create new projects or expand existing ones.
Phase 1 of our project is to refurbish 10 houses to provide affordable housing. Working in partnership with Liverpool City Council, they have agreed to transfer these properties to the CLT.
We want the physical act of rebuilding to help boost the local economy and also offer residents and supporters a direct hand in shaping the area’s development. This project will deliver training, jobs and volunteering opportunities for local people. Working with Assemble, an innovative and award-winning young architectural collective – and in partnership with 2 national organisations, Ambition and Cospa, our 10 homes project will offer a new training scheme offering young people the chance to learn building and construction skills through refurbishing these houses.
In Phase 2, we are planning to develop a social, community arts and retail hub right in the 4 empty corner shops at the centre of our development. This would enable us to bring shops back into use, retain as much of the architectural integrity of the area as possible and re-build a thriving, safe and vibrant multi-racial and multi-cultural area.”
Ready now, for the Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust to go on site on the opposite side of the street. Any day now. The ‘chink of light’ we spoke about at the beginning of all of this is now shining on the 4 Streets.
“So we started to imagine the future.
We’ve imagined before but it’s different now,
The Council have no money, the economics have changed.
And so it’s time for new ideas, a time to work differently.
We want the houses refurbished, the area regenerated, of course we do.
We’ve had the idea of setting up a trust, maybe a community land trust,
A body for us all, the people who live here and want to live here,
People who love Granby.
We’ll widen our contacts, look widely for sources of funding,
Broaden who we speak to, look to others for help and inspiration.
Other trusts, other places.
We’ll look for new people to come and live here.
A multi-cultural, peaceful and creative place.
We’ll look for new people to work with, committed and local developers and partners,
And we’ll look at new design and development ideas
For an even greener Granby.
We will broaden our numbers, coalesce all of our ideas,
Be clear about what we want.
And we will make our plans, our dream, our strategy in solidarity.
We will use this chink of light, this chance of change
For the place and for the people.
We have waited so long.”
We are waiting no more. This was a wondrous day.
And of course the adventure is nowhere near over. So I’ll continue to bring news of what happens. When the CLT goes on site. When all of the 4 Streets partners arrive at a just solution for the houses of existing residents. When the new people begin to move in. When the shops re-open and the streets come fully alive. And of course there’ll be a Christmas Street market.
So that was a bit of a day.
Not over for me yet though. I walk into town to see some new friends, the Liverpool Quakers, on the occasion of their annual John Hamilton Memorial Lecture.
John began his political career in the 1950s as a councillor in Granby.
I knew him during his time as Leader of the City Council in the 1980s. Trying to govern quietly and wisely whilst balancing the competing zealotries of Margaret Thatcher and the Militant Tendency. Then later on we were connected with him during the early days of the Kensington New Deal.
Food courtesy of the Meeting House Café’s joint venture with Blackburne House.
David Boulton wrote his book 50 years ago, before he became a Humanist Quaker, and while he was working as an investigative journalist for Granada’s ‘World in Action.’ It has just been republished.
The day ending quietly. A day full of old friends and new ones. A wondrous day.
You can now read the Story of Granby 4 Streets here.