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Photo Kelvin Grove nina edge Feb 2005
PLACED LAST !
Welsh Streets residents and the broader community have been invited to see a new masterplan for the area presented by Manchester developers Place First at Toxteth Town Hall, Liverpool this afternoon.
The proposal follows a 2015 ruling by Eric Pickles, then Conservative Minster for Local Government and Communities, who stated that as many of the existing streets and trees on the contested site must be retained in any future development. This ruling negated previous aspirations by Plus Dane and Liverpool City Council to demolish all the houses, as part of the controversial HMRI Pathfinder Scheme. It further disappointed local residents in the Welsh Streets Home Group (WSHG) who had sought a mixed development allowing some demolition and new build alongside some refurbishment. This would have been funded by not for profit organisations co-ops and private developers some of whom have offered financial involvement from 2006 through to 2017 giving all involved confidence that some one will in due course repair the site.
By 2016 Liverpool City Council had invited Place First who repair empty properties for private rental to propose a masterplan for the area and run a pilot repair scheme in Voelas St. The houses they are currently completing on High Park Street speak for themselves in terms of quality, and illustrate why so many people became involved in campaigning for a level of retention for these wide terraced streets.
However at recent WSHG meetings there has been frustration with the prolonged degradation of Kelvin Grove and calls for urgent repair and reoccupation, along with immediate attention to drug dealing problems in back Kelvin Grove. Residents asked again to see some of the houses currently divided into small flats and bedsits to be de-converted into large much needed family homes for people living in extended families or working from home. There were also calls to look again at tenure mix and to let some property become private owned again, with some for sale to local families, for local co-ops and low cost rental, and rent to buy models be provided. This would create investment opportunity for the local community and provide some protection from the inherent risks of allowing a single investor full rein over such a large site. The overwhelming view of the meeting was to seek an urgent solution for Kelvin Grove since is it an occupied street, and has endured the longest period of decant.
It is 13 years since the Welsh Streets were threatened with demolition in 2004. As long ago as 2011 Kelvin Grove was removed from this threat & refurbishment agreed as long as campaigners could be put finance for repairs in place.
( http://www.welshstreets.co.uk/?page_id=686 ) Despite private developers, coops, and individuals buyers offering to repair and reoccupy Kelvin Grove, it was not released for refurbishment. Even an allocation of funds from the now defunct government Empty Homes fund was turned away and increasingly frustrated residents are still waiting for progress. Six years after being removed from demolition plans, eleven years after raising the necessary finance for repairs, thirteen years after the local authority emptied the street, and twelve years since all repairs were withheld residents in Kelvin Grove are waiting. Our concern is that Kelvin Grove might well be among the last streets to be repaired in the Place First scheme, with an estimated completion time of three years from now. That would bring us to 2020 after sixteen years of failed area renewal.
So whilst welcoming the expertise, design work and commitment Place First are bringing to the area there is dismay and disappointment that the people who did so much to protect and promote the site, might be the last to benefit from it’s repair.
Spokesperson for the Welsh Streets Home Group Nina Edge said
‘ This prolonged process has caused many people heartache and worry. We hope Kelvin Grove can be fixed sooner rather than later – but at least it is being fixed. We look forward to a time of resolution, repair, re-occupation, and community building. Our long term aim to eventually hold a party at which everyone involved in the area has something to celebrate still stands. In the meantime we wish Place First and Plus Dane all the best with their work to create a new Welsh Streets’
Place First and Plus Dane present their vision for The Welsh Streets from 3.00 until 6.30 on Thursday 16th March. Please contact Place First for details of how to access new homes. ( 0161 413 5810 firstname.lastname@example.org )
Kelvin Grove September 2015 photo nina edge