Granby Four Streets

Resisting Marketisation
Community-led project engaged in rebuilding Granby, a Liverpool neighbourhood that had fallen derelict after decades of poorly-planned regeneration initiatives. A successful Community Land Trust that rebuilt several houses with and for its residents


In recent decades, housing policy in Britain has often devastated communities through structural neglect and chronic underfunding. People have been forced to occupy mouldy, unsafe, cramped homes. Such issues have led to mass demolition, substandard housing, and state-led urban regeneration schemes whose mass reconstruction projects have not only escalated carbon emissions, but also displaced communities and damaged their cultural heritage.

A key housing policy of the New Labour government (1997-2010) was the Housing Market Renewal Initiative (HMRI) introduced in 2002 with a focus on the regeneration of specific regional housing markets in selected areas, particularly deprived, working-class areas in the North of England. Under these schemes, also known as Pathfinder initiatives, local authorities and other public sector partners received funding to acquire and clear derelict and abandoned properties, and redevelop their sites.1Owen Hatherley, ‘Liverpool’s Rotting, Shocking “Housing Renewal“: How Did It Come to This?’, The Guardian, (27 March 2013) <> [accessed 14 February 2023]. The HMRI led to the demolition of historic buildings and the displacement of many communities, prioritising the interests of property developers and markets over those of residents.


Granby Triangle is an area of Liverpool’s Toxteth district and home to one of the UK’s oldest Black communities.2Raymond Henry Costello. Black Liverpool: The Early History of Britain’s Oldest Black Community 1730-1918(Birkenhead: Picton Press, 2001). Developed primarily as a residential neighbourhood to accommodate the growing working class during the industrial revolution, its streets comprise Victorian houses built by Welsh immigrant workers in the late 19th century. During Britain’s postwar period, Toxteth attracted many immigrants looking for job opportunities and by the end of 1970s was hit by high unemployment due to Britain’s economic decline. Steady shrinkage of Granby’s economic activity continued during the 1980s and many businesses closed. Meanwhile, racial tensions and police hostility towards young Black men began to grow. The HMRI Pathfinder initiative, which covered areas of Merseyside including Liverpool and the Wirral, had a particular impact on Granby’s Welsh Streets neighbourhood, with housing destroyed and residents displaced for the purposes of reviving what was seen as an insufficiently profitable area.

In 1993, Granby Residents Association was established. Ever since, local residents have worked together to resist the demolition of terraced houses and the displacement of the community. Association members care for abandoned properties, cultivate shared spaces, and facilitate a monthly Granby Street Market.3Aditya Chakrabortty, Ames Lily, and Phil Maynard, ‘The Alternatives: How a Liverpool Suburb Upended Its Housing Market’, The Guardian podcasts (17 February 2018) <> [accessed 1 February 2023]. Looking for strategies and funding to collectively buy and renovate derelict properties, without support and guidance from the City Council, the Association established the Granby Four Street Community Land Trust (CLT) in 2010.

The wider community of Toxteth offered support and together with Association members organised social gatherings and participatory projects establishing a network of “projects, partnerships, and collaborations forged through long standing negotiations with public and private stakeholders”.4World Habitat Awards, ‘Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust’, (2016) <> [accessed 1 February 2023]. Granby Four Streets CLT partnered with several housing associations to oppose the HMRI’s demolition plans in 2011. They were successful with their campaign emphasising the importance of community engagement and participation in shaping the design and use of public space.

In 2012, the local authority transferred several properties to the CLT. Working with the London-based architecture collective Assemble, the CLT renovated more than twenty-five empty properties, including ten affordable homes to own and rent.5Assemble, ‘Granby Four Streets’, (2013) <> [accessed 1 February 2023]. Much care was taken in the renovation work to consider environmental impacts. Making use of existing structures and recycling materials was as important as involving local people in practical handicrafts, such as tile-making.

In these coalitions, campaigns, and renovation projects, Granby Four Streets Community Land Trust presents a model of citizen collaboration towards the progressive renovation of neighbourhoods in a way which builds upon rather than erases existing infrastructure.


External links

Community Land Trust Network—a wider network of CLTs across the UK 

European Community Land Trust Network—a network promoting the growth of CLTs across Europe 

Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB)—an organization that supports policy advocacy and coalition-building for community-led and controlled affordable housing in New York since 1973