“Jayne Lawless and Coming Home Liverpool co-founder Ronnie Hughes are in a jovial mood, surrounded by the green and grey walls of their adopted property – the first, they hope, of many empty houses they are going to convert into affordable homes.
There are around 600,000 empty properties in the country, and 9,000 in Liverpool. Often the owners cannot afford to bring them back into use. Yet Liverpool, like the rest of the country, faces an acute shortage of homes.
This house, on City Road in Walton, is owned by Clare Kinsella, who had inherited it from her late father. She could not afford to do it up, especially because she had been ripped off for £20,000 by previous builders. So she faced either going into further debt to refurbish it or selling it for less than market value.
But when she met Hughes at a social housing conference – he first worked in housing 40 years ago and was recently involved in the Granby 4 Streets redevelopment for which the architects won the Turner Prize – Coming Home Liverpool had found its first homeowner.”
This has been a really good week for us at Coming Home Liverpool. We’ve met a lot of interesting people in our search for empty homes to work on, work is going well at the home in City Road Walton where we’re on site and, well, we’re enjoying ourselves getting our new idea going.
And a particular thing we’re both enjoying is working with our friend, Liverpool street photographer Jane MacNeil. We’ve commissioned Jane to spend some days with us and see what she gets. None of us know precisely what we’ll do with Jane’s photographs, but we will do something creative over time, so I don’t want to use up too many of them on here.
This has now evolved into a tradition for me. Not every year, because that would be annoying, but every now and then I like to walk round the centre of Liverpool on the one day in the year when all the shops are shut and there are hardly any people around.
As you’ll know if you read this blog sometimes I feel a considerable amount of responsibility for Liverpool. So looking around it on its quietest day is like me being the curator of an empty gallery or a minister in a great cathedral before the congregation arrive, checking everything’s all right while I have the place more or less to myself. Let’s have a look round then.
In town today I picked up my copy of a new magazine I’d been looking forward to seeing and decided to find somewhere quiet to go and look through it. Thinking of ‘quiet’ reminded me that the Liverpool Quakers have just opened a café in Liverpool One, near to The Bluecoat. So that’s where I went.
In School Lane.
As well as being quiet it is a gently welcoming place, as you’d expect of people with these principles: Continue reading →