I hadn’t been to the Anfield area of Liverpool for a while and this week had a look round and left in a state of shock, anger but also with a mid racing of what can be. Anfield is, or in some cases now, was an area of proud looking solid mid 19th century houses build for merchants and traders.
Like a number of areas of old housing that had low values in that daft and damaging time of pre downturn housing boom, Anfield,was declared a Pathfinder area http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Housing_Market_Renewal_Initiative
What a bloody travesty this happened.
What is the point of destroying streets and homes that have character, the kind of homes that in economically vibrant towns and cities are cherished by lovers of heritage (who restore them sympathetically) and modernists who love the “soul” of these homes and enjoy creating that very cool “old meets new aesthetic” so beloved of creative types like myself.
What is the point of destroying areas of character and replacing them with new houses so bereft of soul that only people of low aspiration could ever want to live in them, homes and streets that will need regeneration money in 25 years?
There is plenty written about alleged dodgy deals that have resulted in these crimes against towns and cities like Liverpool. But dodgy deals or not, what has happened is certainly a crime and is damaging the future attractiveness of large parts of a great city that unless as a country we go into economic freefall will surely grow it’s economy and have more people desiring and being able to take on these properties and upgrade them like has happened with similar homes and streets in Chiswick, Camden et al, which have become very liveable places indeed.
The problem is compounded by mortgage lenders’ reluctance to lend to first and second time buyers on properties that need major TLC. But its first and second time buyers that love expending the energy of youth on “homesteading”. All this money that has been wasted on compulsory purchase, and grants to build crappy new homes should and could be used to underwrite community regeneration initiatives. Couldn’t this money be used to underwrite mortgages to creative / handy folk who want to be part of transforming a community?
The precedents are there. It is a youthful DIY ethic that has driven the great inner city regeneration of iconic places like The Lower East Side in New York , the Mitte in Berlin or Hoxton in London.