From derelict to destination: meet the residents determined to regenerate their neighbourhood

Local Economies
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Toxteth is the home of Granby Four Streets, one of the UK’s earliest multicultural neighbourhoods with many thriving businesses attracting shoppers from across Liverpool. After the economic downturn of the 70s followed by the riots of 1981, the area began to decline with the Victorian terraces falling into disrepair and multiple shop closures.

But 20 years ago, the community of the Four Streets area came together to do something about it. Despite multiple failed regeneration schemes, the neighbourhood was facing the threat of demolition. The residents began campaigning to save the area.

“Granby residents fought demolition for almost two decades. They came up with alternative plans, they went round the country looking at different options for how the houses could be renovated,” said local resident of over 30 years, Hazel Tilley. 

Taking matters into their own hands, the residents introduced the community market, ensuring that income generated through trading benefited local people. The group began making cosmetic improvements including rewilding shared garden spaces and painting derelict properties, filling the boarded-up windows with flowers and positive quotes, such as “NEVER GIVE UP!”

““This is the story of a determined community, who protected their own houses and all the empty ones around them from multiple failed regeneration and demolition initiatives,””

Ronnie Hughes Granby Four Streets board member

The group were keen to renovate the remaining empty houses, and turn them into homes, breathing new life into the area. The campaign to reclaim their streets gathered momentum, eventually becoming a co-operative with Assemble and Steinbeck Studios to create a plan for sustainable and affordable housing.

After a struggle for ownership, ten properties were transferred to Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust (CLT). With the help of funding from Power to Change and housing initiatives, the group developed affordable homes to own and rent alongside a ceramics studio.

Remarkably in 2015 Assemble were nominated for and won the Turner Prize, an award normally given to visual artists, with the judges praising their “ground-up approach to regeneration, city planning and development in opposition to corporate gentrification.”

As new residents rent and own the Granby properties, the CLT are committed to improving their area, with further plans to renovate the Four Streets. They have expanded the Granby Street Market and in 2019, launched Granby Winter Garden, becoming an attraction for tourists. It took a few dedicated residents to sew the seeds of change and now the area is attracting new businesses, once again becoming the bustling residential and commercial neighbourhood it once was.

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