Build Your Own High Street: Second Workshop

On Tuesday evening, we had the second of our ‘Build Your Own High Street’ workshops.

To recap, these sessions are a chance for people in the community to come along and have their say regarding what is to be done with the land just next to Homebaked. Liverpool City Council have decided that the houses just next to the bakery are to be demolished, so we have formed a Community Land Trust to come up with ideas from the community for what could replace these houses. The Council want to have shops or work units on the ground floor, with new homes above them. This is why what we’re all doing together is like building our own high street!

We’ll soon be appointing the architects to work with us on turning the community’s ideas into reality and another purpose of these workshops is to skill us all up so the work on this project can truly said to be community led!

There’s one more workshop to go, as well as a road trip (more details as you read on!), and so far, they’ve been very successful with plenty of you coming along and sharing fantastic ideas.

I was there last night to note down those ideas and to help serve tea, coffee and, of course, the promised and much-loved pies!

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Sam Jones got the ball rolling by introducing herself as a director of the CLT (Community Land Trust) and mentioned how she has trained local residents before at her courses (which we’ve touched upon in previous blog posts).

Then, Marianne Heaslip, an architect who has worked with Homebaked for the last five years, and has been generally helping us with getting ready to pick the architects for the new project, reviewed what happened last time. She reminded us of the brief (appointing architects to work with us on the block), and then each of us introduced ourselves and explained a bit about why we were at the event, and where we had come from.

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There were a lot of newcomers, one of whom was Jake, who works with the Tate. He was filming the event, and interviewed some of the people present at the end, and will be compiling a short film about these sessions.

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Before the night’s activities began, Marianne reviewed the last workshop by reminding everyone of the work we did. You may remember that this involved us being in small groups and coming up ideas from an imaginary person who would be involved with the new block, be they a resident, a visitor or somebody coming to work in the area, and what they might like to see from it. Repeating this gave newcomers a chance to see our work and combined findings and ideas.

She and Sam then discussed the fact that there is still a lot of research that needs to be done with a project of this size and importance, and we really need to work out exactly what people want before it is all finalised. “People in the area being interested,” is what Sam said is vital to the project, “Local people being committed and being involved.”

“It has to be community controlled,” added Marianne, “and the community is in charge of the ideas.”

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Sam also talked about how everything has to feel right for the community who are actually going to be living here. We have to adapt retail models to suit our needs, but nothing has to be set in stone. For now, these are ideas and our brainstorming to come up with a final solution.

There was also a reminder that we may possibly get permission to build on the rec at the back of Homebaked, and this will also involve gathering up ideas from the community.

Ronnie Hughes, [https://asenseofplaceblog.wordpress.com/2015/04/17/of-the-people-by-the-people-the-community-land-trusts/”‘ target=’_blank’>title=”a sense of place link] a familiar local bloggerwe’ve worked with before, was also there and had a few good points to make on the ideas from the community: “People keep saying they want the new building to reflect Anfield at the front, with traditional ideas of bay windows and so on, then a ‘green revolution’ with gardens and sitting areas round the back. Within this you can do what you can imagine by being open to each other’sideas. Right now, we’re all sitting in a dream made real – Homebaked, and the Community Land Trust project is another dream. Something for everyone to come to with fresh eyes.”

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We then broke into small groups to work on this week’s activity: a community timeline for designing and constructing the new building.

The idea was to create a timeline from 2010 to 2020. We’re in the middle now, in 2015, and we had to look at what was happening to get us here, what’s happening right now, and what we would like to happen in the future.

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I didn’t personally take part in this activity, as I was keeping an eye on the pies, but I did go around to listen to each group’s views as they noted down their ideas on cards to stick up on the timeline afterwards.

There were a lot of common themes, such as the notion of using the skills of local people and keeping the land sustainable without having to rely too much on larger corporations, and everybody really worked hard to put their own spin and bring their own memories of Anfield into the timeline.

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We had a short break (consisting of the delicious pies and sausage rolls!) before each group presented their ideas.

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Group One:
The first group talked about working with the council to discuss our proposal. They also touched upon the divide between, not only the North and South of Liverpool, but the Anfield and Everton areas in general (they also suggested combining the two names into either ‘Anton’ or ‘Everfield’ – not sure how well that would go down!).
Two of this group’s contributors were parents, and stressed the importance of family-orientated places to go. A sports centre (such as the long lost Vernon Sangster, which has now, like many old buildings, gone), a running group and youth clubs, to name a few. They also mentioned how a child-friendly restaurant would be nice.
Theyalso mentioned the possibility of some sort of community library in the new building.

I agreed with many of their views, particularly the idea of the library and restaurant.

I remember going to Great Homer Street library as a child and miss it since it was closed down. It was a beautiful building and it’s such a shame to see it gone.
The restaurant suggestion is one that I think many would agree with – it’s a shame that, in order to go out for a nice evening, many (especially families) have to go into town to find somewhere suitable. There are quite a few pubs in the area, but it would be nice to have some extre choice.

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Group Two:
The second group began by talking about the early days of the regeneration, and how, in 2009, there were a lot of ideas from the council that sounded promising, but ultimately many of the early ideas came to nothing. Their idea for the future was to look at the heart of the community, with projects such as ourselves at Homebaked, and adapting homes better for families. This group were lucky enough to be joined by a pair of trainee architects, who brought their expertise to practice by explaining to us about feasibility studies and the land agreement (we all have to agree on how to use the land, as a group). They also discussed how looking at case studies, and the notion that, unfortunately, “What has been knocked down, is what we need.” One of the architecture students also mentioned about communicating with our stakeholders, and how we have to make sure our money matches what we want.

This also discussed the quite modern idea that may be familiar to those who are aware of projects such as Kickstarter or GoFundMe – working out what a project is exactly, finding out how to fund it and gathering interest, then doing it, rather than getting the money and going in blindly. Finally, they discussed modular design and the importance of getting planning approval.

From an outsider’s point of view, I thought it was very interesting to have these technical ideas discussed. I won’t lie, I still don’t know a great deal about architecture (though these workshops are helping me to learn!), and some of these vital points (like conveying ideas to stakeholders) simply hadn’t crossed my mind before.

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Group Three:
The third group consisted mainly of local residents who were all familiar with the regeneration. They mentioned how 2010 almost brought about the area’s demise, with lots of empty properties and derelict buildings. The idea of the residents being empowered and sharing their views was important to this group, and they discussed how important it will be for us to consult with our architects to ensure we, as a community, are getting the results we want. Shared ownership of houses and community building was also mentioned, touching upon last workshop’s ideas and the purpose of the Community Land Trust. There was mention again of the idea of a community garden in the future for residents to meet and socialise in. They also suggested traineeships in the area, to help boost local people, hammering to home that point about ‘residential empowerment’.

Again, I have to say I agree, as the sense of community is something that’s very important to me as well. I like the idea of local people being helped to achieve all they can, and through projects such as Homebaked, the CLT and any that come about in the future, it’s definitely something that can be done.

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Marianne then reminded us that what we want to do will take time, but it will be worth it. Looking at the bigger picture, we have shortlisted three architects already and are soon to choose which practice we will work with. We have a timescale of 15 months to produce a ‘scheme of significant merit’ – basically, we have to produce a proposal that is ready for the council to review. We will then be working with our architects on the designs and coming up with a project plan that works.

She then invited people to join the CLT, as there are different ways to be involved. (If you are curious, Homebaked’s CLT is on Twitter: @homebakedCLT – if you want to give us a tweet.)

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Finally, Jake interviewed some of the people who were at the event for his documentary, and he is interested in speaking to more of us next time.

So, what happens from here?

We actually have a road trip to Leeds and Liverpool this Saturday (9th May) where we will be seeing the work of our shortlisted architects to get an idea of what is plausible for our project. The seats on the mini bus are filling up fast, but if you are interested, please do email Britt for more info: [mailto:britt.jurge[email protected]’ target=’_blank’>link] [email protected] next workshop is on the 19th of May, and we’ll be talking about the team to take everything forward and what roles everybody will take. Hope to see you there!

All photos here by [https://asenseofplaceblog.wordpress.com”‘ target=’_blank’>title=”Ronnie Hughes link] Ronnie Hughes

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