Liverpool Urban Renaissance

A reflection on where we are – and how it all feels at the moment, particularly in Granby.

Renaissance - 1A few weeks ago I wrote emotionally on here about the how tos and joys and frustrations of urban renaissance. Of being involved in bringing new life back to places long condemned to death by the vicissitudes of time and public policies.

“There is no one method. And even when you all make one up and decide what you want to do and how you want to do it to get to where most of you want to go in your place, it will change by the day depending on how you are all feeling:

  • Some days those of you who are ‘good at the detail’ won’t be able to be bothered with ‘all that crap’
  • And those of you who are ‘always able to see the best in everyone’ will sometimes think just the opposite of that and will find you’ve just let everyone know in no uncertain terms.
  • Other days life will happen and the thing you’ve planned, dreamed of and applied for competently and confidently will be knocked back for no good reason you’re going to be able to see that day.
  • Or more than a few of us will have forgotten to put on our superhero suits on the same day and so stand revealed as the fragile, maybe tired and sometimes even lonely human beings we in fact are.

Because that’s all we are and that’s what we are and that’s the whole of what we are. And what’s wrong with that? It’s complicated and we are all of us only learning. But now and then and gradually over time, and all of us together in all of this, we might get somewhere. We might see some improvement.”

Then since writing that I’ve been relatively quiet on this blog, because life has turned out to be exactly as described above.

But we are, as they say ‘getting there.’

As well as the work I love and get paid for and my life that is only rarely part of this blog, our work together in Granby has reached an absolute pitch these last few weeks. The intense attention to precise details of a community led renaissance of the place, which has always been about much more than just the houses, together with what feels like half of the world’s media coming to talk to us since our Turner Prize nomination. Some days in the celebratory limelight and many more of saying to each other ‘Do I have to?’

But anyway the first Community Land Trust houses are nearly done! And in a very few weeks new people will be living in them for the first time in decades. Recently we had a look round.

Inside a CLT house in Cairns Street L8, yesterday.

Inside a CLT house in Cairns Street L8.

Being fitted out.

Being fitted out.

Joe from architects Assemble, with Lorna from the Nationwide Foundation, one of our main grant funders.

Joe from architects Assemble, with Lorna from the Nationwide Foundation, one of our main grant funders.

This house, as you can see, has a pitched roof as part of one of the bedrooms.

This house, as you can see, has a pitched roof as part of one of the bedrooms.

In some ways these might look like the kind of pictures you’d expect to see at the late stage of any house restoration. But of course I know the story behind these, and so do you. Of the decades of community effort and determination this has taken, and the wisdom, help and industry of these last few years. So these pictures and the whole story are a tribute and a testament to the people of Granby. But look what the houses have had to recover from, what the decades of emptiness have done.

Another Community Land Trust house, further down Cairns Street, yesterday.

Another Community Land Trust house, further down Cairns Street.

Stripped back and ready to be worked on.

Stripped back and ready to be worked on.

Roofless and home only to pigeons at the moment.

Roofless and home only to pigeons at the moment.

Not all of our houses are in this condition, thankfully, but you’ll understand the miracle of recovery shown in the first few photos above?

And of course the CLT has partners also working on miracles here at the moment.

Plus Dane and their delicate and meticulous work on Beaconsfield Street.

Plus Dane and their delicate and meticulous work on Beaconsfield Street.

Liverpool Mutual Homes and their houses on Jermyn Street, being completed by local Penny Lane Builders.

Liverpool Mutual Homes and their houses on Jermyn Street, being completed by local Penny Lane Builders.

Before too long all of the Four Streets will be lived in, at last.

Before too long all of the Four Streets will be lived in, at last.

Then we can all get on with getting the local shops going again and all the other ideas I’ll tell you about some day. And we can tell the story so far, in peace.

Hazel Tilley, CLT Board Member, tells our story to a Radio Merseyside reporter.

Hazel Tilley, CLT Board Member, tells our story to a Radio Merseyside reporter.

As well as all this, and at the same time, I’m a guest member of another story, another piece of urban renaissance.

Meanwhile in Granby?

In Ducie Street.

In Ducie Street.

Our wild flower meadow blooms in the one of the Four Streets where work has not yet started. It will, but not just yet.

Tomorrow though, Ducie Street will be transformed.

And so it’s ocassionally transformed…

Into the Granby 4 Streets Market.

Into the Granby 4 Streets Market. Next one on Saturday August 1st.

Celebrating the most astonishing urban renaissance it has ever been my privilege to be worn out by!

Download your copy of the July Granby 4 Streets newsletter here.Newsletter

2 thoughts on “Liverpool Urban Renaissance

    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks Theresa, these last few weeks have been relentless haven’t they? Really looking forward to us all having some social time this evening. I know we’ll all talk nuts and bolts and floor finishes and back walls, but it will be in the sunshine and with drinks in our hands!

      Reply

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