Granby 4 Streets
A determined group of residents saved their streets by taking them over.
Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust was set up in 2011 by community campaigners who had opposed the demolition of houses and shops, and the relocation of residents. Four Streets aims to renovate all the houses in the Granby triangle, providing homes for 250 families.
The Toxeth area of Liverpool was deeply affected by lack of investment and unemployment, and following the 1981 riots, more shops went out of business and empty houses appeared. In the decades that followed, housing associations and the City Council began a demolition programme with plans for new builds rather than to renovate existing properties.
Residents in the Four Streets responded by cleaning and planting up the streets, painting empty houses and even setting up a monthly community market to improve the area. After its founding, the Granby Four Streets successfully negotiated with the council for ten homes to be transferred to the CLT for renovation in 2012. As well as renovating homes, the CLT has also attracted media attention and funding for its Winter Gardens communal space after the designs won the 2015 Turner Prize.
Michael Simon, the community development co-ordinator for Granby Four Streets, told Far Nearer: “I think everyone should take an interest in their own community. If you’re not taking an interest in the community where you and your family live you won’t be able to do anything about it when things go wrong. It’s about being involved in a community, not just the bricks and mortar, but more things like why should your child be shipped from pillar to post to take part in activities when those activities could easily take place in your environment.”
New rules needed
Policies that can help unleash the potential of this or similar initiatives across the UK.
Create a Common Ground Trust
Buying land from underneath houses and leasing it to members will expand the number of people ready to buy a house.
Introduce an NHS land community-lock
Any land asset sold by the NHS through choice, necessity or obligation should be used for community benefit.
Create a Public Land Bank
End the fire sale public land and instead use surplus land to form the basis for a Public Land Bank.
Start an English Land Commission
Commission will design a strategy for a fairer, more inclusive system of land and land ownership.
Close the viability loophole
Stop private developers from evading affordable housing requirements.
Reform compulsory purchase laws
Changes would mean that public authorities, rather than landowners, would capture the uplift in land value.
Tax unfair landowner gains
Redistribute unfair gains which landowners derive through public investment and land value increases.
Insulate and solarise our homes
UK homes are some of the most expensive to heat in Europe. We can reduce emissions and fuel poverty.
Create a Land Development Corporation
A corporation with the power to purchase, develop and sell land can ensure it is managed in the public interest.