Unless you’ve been living under a stone or, even worse, not reading my blog posts, you’ll know that Assemble, the Granby 4 Streets architects have been nominated for the Turner Prize for their work with us. What might have escaped your notice is that we’ve also been nominated for something else. The Academy of Urbanism’s ‘Great Street’ award.
This award covers the UK and Ireland and award nominations are made by members of the Academy, not by representatives of the streets themselves. And awards given cover places, neighbourhoods and towns as well as the one for individual streets.
So we didn’t put in for it, but are of course delighted to have been picked. The two other streets up for it are Deptford High Street in London and Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork. And today the Academy of Urbanism judges arrived in Cairns Street to take a look around and meet some of the people we’ve all been working with in the 4 Streets these last few years.
Erika talked about the ways local people have been literally ‘repossessing’ these 4 streets over the last few years, amplifying some of the points we’d made in the brochure (above) that we’d prepared for the day.
What can be seen in action on Cairns Street and its neighbouring streets today is entirely evidence of a collective vision, supported by collaborative and partnership working in govern- ance, planning, design and implementation.
All of the empty houses in three of the streets are now on site, with the other street shortly to follow.
Soon after the Housing Market Renewal Initiative (that would have cleared these streets) was called off the residents of the 4 Streets got together and worked on a vision for the preservation and revitalisation of their neighbourhood. This included: a range of developers working on the area; a spread of tenures from social housing, through co-ownership, homesteading and a small co-op; a community land trust to be formed to provide permanent community stakeholding; bringing the corner shops back into use; and continuing the tradition of guerrilla gardening and street markets established to preserve and promote the area over this past decade and engage both former residents of Granby and people from the wider Liverpool in what is going on.
Every element of this vision is now happening. Co-ordinated by the Granby 4 Streets Commu- nity Land Trust working collaboratively with the team of partners that have come together over the last three years to begin creating the future of Granby 4 Streets.
Ann, a supporter of the CLT since we first talked to her about our ideas, talked about the strength of the partnership now working on the streets, the value of the investments we’ve so far pulled into the area, currently over £12million, and the significance of this day:
“This nomination is yet more confirmation that people across the country are noticing that something very special is happening in Liverpool in the 4 Streets, led as much by the people of these streets as anyone else. They’ve both suggested and helped to knit together the partnership of organisations, including the City Council, currently at work on turning Granby into one of the most exciting places to live in the whole City.”
You’ll notice of course that we’re all talking about the 4 Streets. Though the award has picked out one of them, we ourselves love them all equally.
As mentioned in our brochure for the day, about the work of many, many local people over many years of healing this damage:
“To observe a typical Street Market in action is to witness a degree of diversity and common human happiness with each other that no amount of conscious social engineering could approach.
So people like living here and new people are moving in because they say they like the look and feel of the place and the activities happening. But none of this would have been possible if the urban planning that cleared the rest of the Granby area and destroyed most of its resident communities had been repeated in the 4 Streets. It’s remaining community preserved themselves and their streets through years of intelligent social, cultural and political actions. And the delicate work now beginning is to graft the new community of arriving families onto this one and therefore grow something entirely new, but based on a long and successful Granby tradition of welcome and renewal.
All of which is taking place against an economic background that no one should mistake for easy. But the habit in the 4 Streets has become one of increasingly ‘doing it ourselves’ when public authorities have been unable or unwilling to help. So though the austerity-beleaguered City are currently providing such support and advice as they can, it’s clear that the DIY attitude and cohesiveness and inventiveness of the 4 Streets community and its Community Land Trust are going to be needed and vital as the neighbourhood recovers its health and wellbeing.”
And if I can just step forward for a moment from the reporting and quoting I’ve been doing so far, I want to tell you how surprisingly emotional I found all of this. In the struggle and the working of these years we’ve seldom paused like this, all together, to signify and reflect on what we’ve done and will yet do. ‘Great Street?’ Houses being completed? Enterprises started up? Builders all over the place? Who’d have thought?
This is part of what the Community Land Trust is doing next. Our ‘Four Corners Project’ that will bring a new community gathering and market place back onto the corners of Granby Street and Cairns Street.
“This is a social enterprise project led by Assemble, the 4 Street’s architects and design collective. It aims to support the local culture of making, DIY and creative action – and will be making new products from re-cycling local building materials which would become commercially self-sustaining,.
Initially these will be creating household objects such as fireplaces, tiles and door furniture for the CLT houses, to replace original features lost in the years of desolation and ocal people are now becoming involved in the production of these. All of this being done with the CLT’s assistance, with the objective of using the national and international publicity around the Turner Prize to kick-start a permanent, Granby based craft business.”
For all of us, it’s been a journey of years.
And today was a great and significant day for us all. ‘Great Street’ eh? Who’d have thought.
Big thanks to The Academy of Urbanism judges, Andrea Titterington, Geoff Haslam and Alistair Barr for spending the morning with us. We’ll enjoy several months as a nominated ‘Great Street’ now before the awards in November.
And thanks to everyone from all of the builders who helped with the day, including North West Construction, HMS and Penny Lane Builders. Also, to Rose Olive and Mark for the curry and the hospitality.