Granby Four Street's vision
"Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust wants to create a thriving, vibrant mixed community, building on the existing creativity, energy and commitment within the community, where people from all walks of life can live, work and play. Our vision for Granby Four Streets is a neighbourhood which:
• Has streets full of plants, creating the greenest quarter in the city
• Is architecturally rich, with imaginative renovations of Victorian terraces
• Is a thriving multi-cultural, multi-racial area
• Is sociable, safe and welcoming
• Has an arts and social hub with a community café
• Continues to organise and further develop its own monthly market
A community's campaign to save its streets
By 2010 more than half of the 200 terraced houses in the Granby Four Streets area of Toxteth were empty and in serious disrepair. Decades of under-investment and tarnished by the 1981 riots, the area was destined for demolition - just as had happened to the surrounding areas. The council forgot to clean the streets, bins weren't collected, street lights didn't work. Residents felt abandoned.
Despite the years of neglect, a tight-knit community existed. They cared and they wanted to protect their neighbourhood. So they started gardening, painting their houses and the boarded-up properties too. They wanted to bring colour and life back to the area.
Enough is enough
As you can hear in this wonderful podcast on Granby by Guardian journalist, Aditya Chakrabortty, residents decided that enough was enough. They wanted real control, so they formed a Community Land Trust (CLT).
Becoming one of the movement's first urban CLTs meant people had to take the Granby residents seriously. Incorporating as a legal entity gave them clout and enabled them to buy 10 empty homes from the council. Liverpool has become well-known for it 'Homes for a Pound' scheme, and that's just what Granby did.
Being a CLT gave hope to the residents and the opportunity to transform houses that had been disregarded and left to rot.
Some Granby magic
While every community led housing project is special there are elements of the Granby Four Streets story which are truly fantastical. Cue a secret millionaire and the world-famous Turner Prize.
Yes, that's right, all the excitement that the CLT had been generating had caught the attention of a benefactor looking to invest in the area. His loan of £500,000 was a game-changer and resulted in the group being able to secure match-funding and the support of Assemble, a London-based architecture and design studio on a mission to make things happen.
Listening to the CLT's wants and needs, Assemble came up with individual plans for each of the homes. Every home with their unique interiors were respected. This was not a one-size-fits-all project. Dividing walls were left, missing ceilings created full-length rooms, discarded materials were repurposed. For too long the history and existence of Granby Four Streets had been dismissed - now was the chance to celebrate.
Activities were arranged to get the whole community involved in creating handmade and unique features including ceramic tiles and porcelain doorknobs. This participatory approach was rewarded and broadcast internationally when Assemble won the 2015 Turner Prize for their work.
More than just an artwork
Granby’s approach to developing genuinely affordable homes is inspired. Away from the media spotlight, the real success comes back to the reasons why the CLT was formed: to bring nurture and strengthen the community that existed, to respect the fabric of the area and to create a safe and lively environment for its residents.
Work is nearing completion on the CLT's now 11 homes and winter garden. The homes are a mixture of sale and rental properties at genuinely affordable prices. Similarly to London CLT, prices are tied to what local people earn and a covenant means the homes will remain affordable for future generations too.
Granby Four Streets CLT have rebuilt their area and the neighbourhood is now full of life: there is an established monthly market, the community gardening projects continue and the winter garden which is being converted out of two properties that had been left in a particularly bad state will provide indoor community space too. Through the CLT, normal people have been able to take control, protect and sustain the community they cared about. The project is now inspiring the transformation of the surrounding areas too.