Tag Archives: social housing

Streets Apart: A History of Social Housing

Early in May this year writer and journalist Lynsey Hanley, together with a producer from BBC Radio 4 came and interviewed me for a series of programmes they were planning about the history of social housing. I was glad to do this as Liverpool had a significant role in the early development of council housing.

Then a few weeks after our recording the Grenfell Tower Fire happened and in its still unfolding aftermath it seems more necessary than ever to look back at the history and development of social housing. Continue reading

How to do Social Housing: Part Two

Continuing the true story of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust on siteGranby on site - 70

The second of two detailed parts of my story about exactly how to do social housing. Or at least, exactly how we’re doing it in Granby 4 Streets.

At the end of Part One we are deliriously winning the Turner Prize.

At the end of Part One we are deliriously winning the Turner Prize.

Assemble and a few of us are up in Glasgow at the Channel Four announcement.

Assemble and a few of us, though not me, are up in Glasgow at the Channel Four announcement.

The rest of us are in Liverpool watching it all together at The Small Cinema in Victoria Street.

The rest of us are in Liverpool watching it all together at The Small Cinema in Victoria Street.

Next morning I’m up well before the dawn reflecting on what’s just happened and have published my thoughts on here before the media start arriving in the Four Streets. Continue reading

How to do Social Housing: Part One

A true story of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust on site.On Site Part One - 1I want to tell you a story about social housing. A very detailed story (in two parts) about exactly how to do it. Or at least, exactly how we’re doing it in Granby 4 Streets.

I want to tell you this story now because recently some people who I thought knew better are saying social housing can’t be done any more. Or that anyway if you do decide to do it you’re doing something called ‘Submarket Housing.’ As in subhuman, subspecies, substandard, subnormal, substitute, subterranean? You can probably only barely imagine how annoyed  this makes me feel, having been working in and around social housing now since 1972.

But this won’t be a rant, more like a demonstration of a community of people, including me, doing social housing here in Liverpool over the last few months. And it’s a detailed demonstration because over this time I’ve been the Granby community’s representative on site as we’ve worked on our latest batch of renovations. Throughout this time I’ve taken hundreds of site photographs, mainly to help us all run the job. But I think they’re interesting and even beautiful in their way. Because they show what doing social housing looks like.

Here goes.

Late last September we finished our first five houses.

Late last September we finished our first five houses.

And our great friends Ann and Lorna came to help us celebrate.

And our great friends Ann and Lorna came to help us celebrate.

That’s Councillor Ann O’Byrne, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and Lorna Mackie of the Nationwide Foundation, one of our major funders.

That same day we went on site on our next three houses.

That same day we went on site on our next three houses.

Continue reading

It’s Liverpool, in 1964: City of Change and Challenge

Or ‘Seaport: A Life in a Book’challengeSeaport - 1This book came out originally in 1964 when I was ten years old. And though I had my adult-side library ticket by then it must have been a reference only book, as I have no memory of bringing it home. Instead I would sit in the North Liverpool library of my childhood and pore over it for hours. Fascinated by such a gorgeous book about the place that, even then, I considered myself lucky to have been born in. Much of which I hadn’t yet seen. My Liverpool was a Ribble bus to County Road and Stanley Park, near where I’d first lived, or all the way into town, with occasional rides on the ferry, back and forth, back and forth.

My parents, having lived through the war years in Vauxhall and Bootle next to the decimated docks, had been glad to move their little family out to the new northern suburbs where everything was new and life could only get better. And Maghull back then was a fascinating place to grow up in. Between our house and the library there was still a farm where you could watch the great big sow suckling her piglets. And the surrounding streets as they got built filled up with footballers from Everton and Liverpool who we would constantly pester for autographs. But also, of course, by 1964 the Beatles were among us and together with this book only added to my fasciation with the place I was actually from, my Liverpool.

So I would sit there in Maghull branch library, gazing at places I hadn’t yet seen and dreaming of finding them. Then over the decades that came I would find the book occasionally in the Liverpool libraries I by then lived near, and notice that in a way, the book and those early dreams were shaping my life.

Eventually a copy of the 1993 reprint of the book entered my life. The father of my partner Sarah, Frank Horton, was dying of lung cancer. And having seen how often I would look through ‘Seaport’ while visiting him, tenderly passed the book over to me, saying “I think it’ll be more use to you than me now.”

It’s one of my greatest treasures and I’ve long thought of writing about it on here. So here goes. No clever editing, we’ll just leaf through the book, and skipping back and forth across the decades since Liverpool in 1964, I’ll tell you the story of my life. Continue reading

Granby 4 Streets – Open to the Future

This was another of our many big days now. First 5 Community Land Trust Houses  finished and open.DSC07461

And here are some of us who’ve helped this to happen: Joe Halligan, architect from Assemble, Tracey Gore of Steve Biko Housing, Lorna Mackie of the Nationwide Foundation, Eleanor Lee of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust, Councillor Ann O’Byrne – Deputy Mayor of Liverpool – and me, also of the CLT.

To come and see us in Granby.

In Granby 4 Streets

At our Open Day on Monday 21st September.Open day

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Our heritage? The Friday Walk

Isn’t ‘Heritage’ a peculiar word and concept? How come some things are ‘Heritage’ and others merely ‘ordinary.’ And who decides anyway? Being ‘National Heritage Weekend’ when you can get into approved places you might not always be able to, I decided to walk round the neighbourhood here and have a think.

Starting at the heart of things.

Starting at the heart of things.

Granby 4 Streets of course. Where I spent most of yesterday and much of the last week. This week we’ve started handing out the keys to the first Community Land Trust houses to come off site. This week they’ve started turning into homes. Heritage or just places where people live?

Off out walking on Friday morning.

Off out walking on Friday morning.

Forever fixing the roads that are too much travelled on?

Forever fixing the roads that are too much travelled on. Heritage or utilities?

Past the Unitarian Church. Heritge and open this weekend.

Past the Unitarian Church, Ullet Road. Official Heritge, William Roscoe and all, and open this weekend.

Continue reading