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Four Streets project wins Turner Prize

CELEBRATION: The Granby Four Streets area will be celebrated on film by local poets

A REGENERATION scheme for derelict houses in Toxteth in Liverpool has won Britain's leading contemporary art award, the Turner Prize.

The £25,000 prize went to 15-strong London-based architecture and design collective Assemble, which has overhauled 10 houses in the area.

Judge Alistair Hudson said they were “part of a long tradition of art working in society".

Assemble worked with the Granby Community Land Trust (CLT), set up by local residents, to refurbish a number of properties on Cairns Street and create a community ‘hub’.

The Four Streets were due to be demolished under the Government’s Housing Market Renewal Initiative, but the plan was abolished by the Coalition in 2010.

In 2012, the council started discussions with the local community about how they could be involved in a new approach to regenerating the area by breaking the area up into a number of different projects.

The CLT scheme is part of a £14 million regeneration of the area agreed in 2014.

Mayor Joe Anderson said: “It is fantastic news to hear that the Granby Four Streets have won the Turner Prize in recognition of the efforts of the local community, partners and Liverpool City Council to create a fresh start for the area.

Like so much else in Liverpool the Granby Four Streets represents our sense of community, determination and joint working to find new ways of doing things that will protect what makes our city so great.”

Deputy mayor, Councillor Ann O’Byrne, said: “What an amazing feat from Assemble and the residents of Granby! This incredible achievement is a testament to the residents of the Four Streets and the creative spirit of the people of Liverpool. We have known it in this city for a long time – but it’s wonderful to see it recognised in such a prestigious way – that something doesn’t need to be hanging in a gallery to inspire, surprise and delight or to be worthy of being called art.”

Councillor O’Byrne also highlighted the project’s impact on the local area.

“Anyone who has been down to the Four Streets recently knows that it is a hive of construction activity with a huge amount of work going on, and the area is literally being reborn. The turnaround in the area in a short space of time has been little short of remarkable, and huge thanks must go to the local community and our partners for working with us positively to come up with a new plan after many years of false dawns.

“Granby Four Streets is just one area of the city where we are making a difference. In Anfield, hundreds of homes have been refurbished as part of a wider £260 million regeneration scheme in partnership with Liverpool FC and Your Housing Group; while in Norris Green 428 properties have or are being constructed.”

Earlier this year, nine Toxteth-based writers performed specially written poems paying homage to Granby Four Streets for a series of short films about the area called L8 Unspoken.

Among the artists involved, all born or once resident in Toxteth, were Nikki Blaze, Sara Yekutiel, Levi Tafari, and Abdul Malik Al Nasir who wrote about various aspects of life at Granby Four Streets.

Marc Boothe, creative director of B3 Media which organised the project, said the poems could be seen as “a love letter to Toxteth”, exploring race, identity and a sense of place.

He said they were also about “retelling the Four Streets story through local voices”.

Boothe said: “We wanted to celebrate the community through local voices, and its positive work to reclaim houses and the area through things like the Ducie Street market. The Turner Prize raised a question of cultural appropriation - things borrowed by another group on their terms can make it exotic, and risk losing the deeper meaning of the original culture.”

Money for the CLT regeneration schemes has come from Government initiatives including the Empty Homes Fund and Registered Housing Providers (housing associations).

In addition, the CLT and Co-op have secured private finance and Nationwide Foundation funding for the delivery of their schemes.

Since 2012, Liverpool has brought back into use a total of 4,000 empty homes and the number of long-term empty homes has dropped by a third over the last three years to around 6,000.

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