The quiet revolution in British housing

It is possible, however, for invention to be applied to housing in less favoured places, and for small groups rather than property companies and world-famous institutions to take the lead. Off Granby Street, in Toxteth, Liverpool, are rows of small houses which the local authority has wanted to demolish at least since the 1980s, when the area was afflicted by its famous riots. They succeeded further along what was once a thriving high street for the area, its vivacity now deflated by weirdly suburban houses sheltered behind high brick walls set back across a sward of aimless grass. “It is very strange that we’re here,” says Eleanor Lee, a resident since the 1960s. “We’ve been threatened with demolition for 30 years.” The place became blighted, with empty homes awaiting removal. “Ten years ago it was so awful, so utterly filthy and neglected and full of rubbish. Taxi drivers would refuse to drop you off.” There was opposition, from the Granby Residents Association, “but it got them absolutely nowhere because there was no budging the council”. So Lee and a few others decided to take matters into their own hands. They started “cleaning up and planting up, direct work to reclaim the streets so it wouldn’t be a pariah area”. They launched a weekly street market. These hard brick streets won a North West in Bloom award and were featured in Amateur Gardening magazine.

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