Since the news about our architects Assemble and the Turner Prize we’ve been getting a lot of requests from the media and other organisations to tell the story of what we’re doing in Granby Four Streets. Including a presentation and follow up discussion I’ve just done at a conference in Stoke. This was the 2015 annual conference of ‘Creative People and Places’ an initiative of the Arts Council.
As the presentation is all prepared anyway I thought it would be a good idea to put it on here and at the beginning of ‘A Story of Granby 4 Streets’ as a quick summary of where we’re all up to at the moment here in summer 2015.
Here then are the Four Streets, the last four of the original Granby, Liverpool 8 streets to be still standing.
By early 2011 when the community around here asked me if I could come and help with their work on these streets there were something like 50 of the houses being lived in and 150 empty. Plans to demolish them under the ‘Pathfinder’ housing market renewal initiative had just stalled as the then new coalition government had cancelled the programme. So maybe, we thought, as we began to meet, there might be a chance to keep the streets up now? So we began to work on exactly what was wanted.
And instead of just notes from our early work we made this film, about Granby then and the possible ‘chink of light’ we’re now building on.
In the film you can see the early guerrilla gardening residents had done to show there was life and welcome here. Plus early street markets and the painting up of empty houses by residents opposite to them.
Suddenly though and in the middle of what we’d thought might be a long process of engagement and eventual negotiation, Liverpool City Council decided the 4 Streets were not to be demolished and put the renovation works out to tender. Though we’d had the idea of forming a Community Land Trust by this point we couldn’t, of course, have tendered for such a large project.
So the City decided which developer to award the contract to.
Resulting in complete despondency here and more than a bit of a feeling that our last chance of saving the houses, the streets and the community might have just fallen through.
Still, we carried on with gardening and the street markets.
A range of tenures. Youth training and employment. No single developer. Break the place down into smaller projects. Some homesteading. Some land and houses for the Community Land Trust and a Co-op, community ownership in perpetuity.
We talked widely as we’d always said we would. With the communities of the place of course, with the City Council, with housing associations Plus Dane and Liverpool Mutual Homes, a social investor and funders the Homes and Communities Agency and the Nationwide Foundation.
And I’m saying it in a few sentences and showing it in a few photographs here. But this is the work of over four years so far in the story I’m telling.
Which all comes together late in 2014. The City Council back us and Plus Dane and LMH are the first to go on site.
More like a community enterprise that’s all about the people and the place and its future possibilities, now we are all filling it with people again.
A good number of them local families with connections to Granby, like we’d always wanted.
When all of a sudden…
At which point media attention goes off any scale we’d previously imagined.
At which point we all start thinking of the many ways that much of what we’ve done has been art all along?
Maybe we could actually do that now? Maybe out there somewhere is the £100,000 or more we might need?
Then of course in December 2015 Assemble and all of us won the Turner Prize and Granby 4 Streets entered another new chapter.