If you’ve been following our progress on our “Build Your Own High Street” journey, you’ll know that we’ve started the official design meetings with our chosen architects now.
We had our first meeting last month, and on Tuesday 29th June, we had this one.
It began with Architectural Emporium introducing the meeting. Present were Toby and Luke.
Luke explained to us how, even though this is a long-term project, we must start making decisions soon.
“We need to be as real as possible,” he explained, “with realistic options, such as gathering numbers together and looking at our housing mix. This is so we can create a solid business plan.”
You may remember, but the business plan is vital as that is what we have to present to the council before we can get their agreement to us physically going ahead with our plans and ideas.
After the introduction, we came to the night’s activity.
Britt had asked us to bring with us a photograph (or drawing) or two, which illustrated our interpretation of the idea of ‘community’ in our area.
To make it a bit more interesting, we paired up and told our partners our story, then presented these ideas to the group.
However, we presented our partners’ ideas (and vice-versa).
I teamed up with Sam.
She had brought along a drawing she made of a green space nearby where she lives. It’s an ‘accidental’ community space, as she put it, where people can meet outside of commercial spaces (such as cafes, shops) which are more obvious communal spaces. They can sit under the trees for shade, talk, meet other people and so on.
She also told me about how she grew up on a housing estate, where often all the neighbourhood children would play together, under the watch of possibly just one parent. I remember a similar thing happening when I was a kid.
I didn’t actually bring any photo or drawing; not out of laziness, but because my sense of community is very much in the here & now, with Homebaked.
I remember there being a community when I was a child, and going to Stanley Park and Vernon Sangster sports centre, but when I got a bit older, that all seemed to disappear overnight with the start of the regeneration. I feel I’ve told this story a lot already within my posts here, but I suppose it’s a story that needs to be told, because it’s one that’s affected a lot of people, not just me.
Before coming to Homebaked, I had no real connection to Anfield other than just living here. I didn’t really know anyone, all my friends were elsewhere, and anywhere I went to socialise was out in the city centre or beyond.
Now, I feel a much bigger sense of community and pride about Anfield, because I’ve met many people through Homebaked, and, through them, I’ve discovered other things, such as our volunteer Grace’s events at Trinity Church and so on.
Here’s what else was said:
Peter & Bill – Peter’s photo was of the Mere Park development, an urban village project. This is an illustration of one potential design we might go for ourselves – living quarters on top, retail on the bottom.
He liked this because it’s something we’ve looked at as a group, and he could see himself making use of a space such as that one.
He also brought a Pollock painting, characteristically of multicoloured paint splatters, to convey the idea of ‘positive chaos’ that is this project to begin with. Eventually organised chaos, we hope!
Bill discussed how he likes the thought of bringing “life into dereliction”, and giving a sense of space and ownership. Bill has been involved with the regeneration project, much as my own family, so he is well aware of the process and the idea of building ourselves back up again.
Cal & Pat – For Pat, similar to myself, Homebaked makes the community.
It’s “not just a cafe”, but a place where lots can (and does) happen. It’s a ‘multiple use space’. She also mentioned how her community was ‘elsewhere’, and rather than do things in Anfield, she would drive through to go into town.
“Community was elsewhere, and I had to look for it, but now it’s on my doorstep.”
Cal spoke about the park by Falkener Street.
“It doesn’t really create community,” she mentioned, “but it’s there. So, why do people come together?”
She mentioned social barriers, and how people don’t just chat with strangers generally, unless there is a talking point (mutual interests, such as taking their children to the park or walking dogs, for example).
“Space is important, but how it’s used is more.”
Luke & Ray – Luke spoke about a ‘buffer zone’ between the pavement ant the high street.
This provides a meeting space, similar to the one Cal mentioned above, where people can talk when walking their dogs or out with their children, and there’s a sense of ‘safety’ about the buffer zone too.
He also said there’s “no reason why theory of space can’t be made where we are now.”
Ray encouraged us to consider the parking strategy, and how we’ll deal with cars and control them. Essentially, where will people park?
Given that most families have a car these days, it’s an important one to think about, as they obviously take up space and it’s important to think about where exactly they’ll go – on the street, next to their houses, in garages?
And, if we do make our high street a commercial one, will we have to think about commercial parking?
Britt, Toby and Jake – Toby’s picture was of The Dispensary, a pub on Smithdown Road. He made a point of assuring us that he is not an alcoholic, but that pubs are a good place to meet people, especially one like that one. He mentioned how he is friends with the owner, so it’s a place of familiarity to him, and gives him somewhere to socialise.
Britt also mentioned Homebaked. She said it’s not somewhere she might have usually gone, and it’s somewhere she can “meet a different sort of person”.
She feels Homebaked represents the community of Anfield, and is a great place to meet different people with interesting backgrounds and stories.
Britt and Toby also spoke for Jake, who is our resident cameraman documenting the project’s process. His photo was a band poster for an event at The Albert, a pub on Lark Lane.
Again, we had to clarify that Jake wasn’t an alcoholic as well(!), but he explained how it’s also a place where you can mingle with people of different backgrounds.
He mentioned how there are academics, laborers, artists and even prisoners who go to The Albert, and events such as gigs gather everyone together.
“Isn’t it nice that we’re all here.”
Grace & Ronnie – Ronnie brought a photo of the outdoor tables on Cairn Street, as he’s part of the Granby Four Streets CLT. Ronnie is unsure where these tables came from, but says that they are definitely a focal point for the community. He mentioned how some residents do ‘guerilla gardening’, and others can just meet at the tables, sit and chat. Meetings have been gathered around those tables too, regarding the Granby Four Streets project.
Grace’s photograph was of Stanley Park, to show “the importance of somewhere green to breathe in, and escape to.” For Grace, the park’s definite structure gives her a good place to be by herself and relax, as well as meeting up with friends. She also said it’s important that the park is close to where she lives, and gives her fond memories of childhood.
As pointed out by Ronnie, the park was also subject to dereliction with the regeneration, but has picked up a lot since the Isla Gladstone was rebuilt and opened.
After we all shared our photos, Britt shared some that were sent in by Lynn, who couldn’t make the meeting.
Hers were of the Giants, from the arts events that have been throughout Liverpool, and a photo of herself beekeeping, to show how there’s a lot in Liverpool for us all to do as a community and be involved in.
Upon listening to everyone’s views, Luke remarked that, as usual, there are some definite common themes.
Diverse, dynamic space where people can come together and meet each other, a community hub, a park/green space, somewhere to go that’s free of charge, space to just relax or loiter, good parking, ‘accidental’ spaces, places with good activities and places of interest such as eateries, bars and so on.
“Spaces that make you want to stay.”
The next point on the agenda was to discuss the idea for a civic square.
We have heard rumours that there may be the possibility of something like this happening in the area anyway, with the inclusion of a ‘dog walk’, but as a group, we were more interested in thinking about utilising such a space to benefit the community as a whole.
Britt brought up the point of match day trade, something that we at Homebaked are well aware of. The match days bring a lot of passing trade to Anfield, and it would be brilliant if we could create a space where local trade could boom on those days. For example, a local market.
“Then the money spent by fans can stay in Anfield, and support more local businesses.”
This idea is currently quite up in the air, but we’ll share more about it as it develops.
We then looked at our proposed documents for the area.
Architectural Emporium had brought in a 3D model of the area, which could be modified according to each design option, to give us more of a sense of what it would look like when finished.
The idea is to get 20 housing units, with as much of a mix as possible.
This involves putting the “mass” in one part of the area, essentially next to the Homebaked building. This would involve a taller element, to include residential on top and retail on the bottom.
Though this would create a nice contrast between the old design and new, it would also potentially overshadow Homebaked.
This would put the mass at the other end of the site, marking the start of the high street.
There would be a low rise next to Homebaked.
However, this could be imposing as there is a definite ‘start’ to the high street and divides up the older buildings to the one ones. This would also affect local residents who are still living in the older builds.
This option would have a facade which ties into the scale of the neighbouring buildings. The idea of “normal at the front, a revolution at the back”.
The behind would be freed up for different volumes and could be used for a manner of different projects. This would give freedom to spread out the volume and mass, rather than having large structures dwarfing either Homebaked or the opposite end of the street.
Toby explained that we are trying to create bigger living spaces than generally get built these days with this project. They will need to be 20% more than the London standard (a reminder: this is the only standard that is in place), to make way for dual aspects, large windows, good lighting and so on. This is what Anfield needs as an area and for the community.
Options 1 and 2 are similar, but are inverted. Option 3 is more dynamic, and seems to be the one that we are leaning towards as a group.
From a personal point of view, I didn’t really understand the options until I saw them ‘in person’ with the 3D model with movveable options built in that our architects had made. It helped me really visualise how it’s going to look when finished, at least as far as masses of buildings go.
The first two options sounded good in theory, particularly option 2, as I liked the idea of a definite start to the high street, but looking at them, I could see how they might be perceived as ‘imposing’ for those coming to the city, and even more so for those living here.
Option 3 spread the mass out substancially, thus creating a friendlier atmosphere and the desire to explore the area rather than ‘sticking to what we know’.
The bottom line is, financial constraint dictates that the project needs to be dense, but we have to decide where the mass should be. These decisions are vital, because we will need to present them to the council soon.
As Ronnie pointed out, “we need to present good, positive, concrete ideas to the council to make it easier for us all to work together”.
After we looked together at the options and discussed what we liked (or not) about them, and placed them (in the form of polaroid photos) on our ‘Favourites Wall’, in order of preference.
You can see these if you come to the bakery, along with the other images on the wall.
Generally, people didn’t like the idea of option 1 as this dwarfs Homebaked (I didn’t myself). We liked the idea of ‘sublety vs boldness’, to add a contrast.
For our next meeting, we will be bringing along some ‘homework’ (as Britt put it!) in the form of ‘mapping our area’.
This involves us literally adding to maps of Anfield, showing existing businesses and social places, what has gone, places outside of public interest, ‘inbetween spaces’ and hidden spaces of value.
This gives us all a chance, as a group, to go away and reflect upon the project and bring together a more solid idea of what Anfield needs.
This will help us feed back to the council our master plan.
The next meeting is on 4th August from 6 to 8pm, to which you are welcome to come along!
We might also be holding smaller workshops between now and then to gain more experience and interest from local people in the know.
With thanks to Ronnie Hughes for the photography.