History of Granby Four Streets
The Early Days
The Granby Triangle was originally an area with wide streets of Victorian terraces, with houses of varying sizes – from two-up-two down properties with doors straight onto the pavement, through to the grand five or six bedroom homes at the tip of the triangle near Princes Park. The Granby Four Streets area is made up of the four streets at the park end of the triangle – Beaconsfield Street, Cairns Street, Jermyn Street and Ducie Street.
At the end of World War Two Toxteth became a popular destination for immigrants of the Commonwealth moving to Liverpool, becoming one of the UK’s earliest multicultural neighbourhoods. The streets surrounding Granby Street were home to many thriving businesses from different ethnic backgrounds, including grocery stores, butchers, chandlers and even a cinema, attracting shoppers from across the city.
However with the economic decline of Britain through the 1970s working class and ethnic communities were hit with steep unemployment, as well as racial tensions unique to the Toxteth region. This began the steady decline of Granby’s commercial activity, with the neighbourhood’s Victorian terraces declining into disrepair.
1980s - 2000
The rising hostility between Toxteth’s community and the police, with the enforcement of stop and search measures targeting young black men, resulted in the 1981 Toxteth Riots which blighted the reputation of the region and Liverpool as a city, compounding the animosity towards the British government throughout the 1980s.
Following the riots of 1981 in Liverpool 8 life in the Granby area became increasingly bleak. More and more shops went out of business, and empty houses began to appear as at least one of the main housing associations withdrew from the Triangle. This became a vicious circle – more empty houses, meaning fewer people wanting to move in and more shops closing, leading to more dereliction.
In 1993 the Granby Residents Association was established in order to halt the demolition of houses in the remaining streets, as well as creating a community forum to protect its residents. Despite a further loss of houses leading to empty patches, the GRA lobbied the council throughout the 1990s to save the neighbourhood from demolition. This would lead to more focused campaigning to save the Four Streets in years to come.
2000 - 2012
The GRA saw its next battle at the turn of the millennium, and in 2002 the Housing Market Renewal Initiative was set up, identifying the Four Streets as a potential site for demolition and refurbishment. The initiative was designed to bring the “middle classes into areas of low market demand” however was put under intense public scrutiny with accusations of social cleansing, pricing its existing residents out of the neighbourhood. Along with the Welsh Streets Home Group, a neighbouring community in Toxteth, SAVE Britain’s Heritage worked closely with the GRA to campaign against the HMR Initiative.
In 2010 the GRA was disbanded, leaving the Four Streets more vulnerable to the HMR Initiative. However due to a change of national government focussed on imposing austerity measures across the UK the funding for the HMR Initiative was cut and its proposals for Granby halted. Despite the neighbourhood being left in demolition limbo, the residents took the initiative to shape the neighbourhood. The shared spaces were reinvigorated by resident activities, ranging from rewilding and gardening shared spaces to painting the derelict properties. Along with this a community market was set up during the summer months, which would later become the monthly Granby Street Market.
With the Four Streets lacking direction from either government or council the residents filled the void and formed a new campaign group to find a way of renovating the houses and improve the area. While the council put the Four Streets out to tender, the neighbourhood was gaining attention through its attractive facades and galvanising sense of community. At the end of 2011 the residents formally constituted themselves as the Granby Four Street Community Land Trust.
2012 - Today
Shortly after the establishment of the CLT the Four Streets’ tender was won by a private contractor, but within six months little had materialised of their progress to redevelop the streets and the council terminated the contract. As the neighbourhood was left without a plan the CLT initiated contact with the council to explore other possibilities, which included ending plans for redevelopment in favour of funding for the renovation and ownership of derelict properties.
With the consultancy of SAVE the CLT worked with Xanthe Hamilton of social investors Steinbeck Studios, while also working with Plus Dane and Liverpool Mutual Homes to propose a plan for renovation under control of the Land Trust. By 2014 the council transferred 10 properties over to the CLT, with the help of grant funding from a number of housing and community initiatives. Through Steinbeck Studios architecture design team Assemble were invited to design the renovation of the homes.
Working closely with the CLT Assemble proposed developing the Four Streets to include ten affordable homes to own and rent, with the establishment of ceramics studio Granby Workshop. In 2015 Assemble were nominated for and won the Turner Prize, an award normally given to visual artists, the judges praising their “ground-up approach to regeneration, city planning and development in opposition to corporate gentrification.” Soon after plans for a winter garden was proposed for development.
As of 2019 the CLT and Four Streets community is the proud home of new residents along Cairns Street, with the Granby Workshop and Granby Street Market attracting visitors from beyond Liverpool. In March 2019 The Granby Winter Garden was opened as a community meeting place, engaging the neighbourhood in plant and education workshops. All the while the long term residents and the CLT remain active in the neighbourhood with further plans to renovate the Four Streets. Granby remains the most ethnically diverse community in Liverpool, with strong associations