SAVE Joins Chorus of Condemnation over Liverpool Demolitions
SAVE is extremely concerned by the developing situation in Cairns Street, Liverpool - where we have been supporting residents in their efforts to prevent the piecemeal demolition of the historic streets in the neighbourhood.
Cairns Street is a street of attractive and substantial Victorian houses in the Toxteth area of the city - not far from the Welsh Streets. Earlier this year - after a bitter fight (see articles here and here) - the council gave permission to demolish two houses in the street. Now, it transpires that during the demolition of one of these houses the contractor has so damaged an adjacent property that it has said it is structurally unsound and must also be demolished.
Local residents have told us that the contractor did not follow the approved method of demolition of this adjacent property outlined in the prior approval application.
The local residents group has produced the following press release. For more information, and to support the campaign, contact the Granby Residents Association here.
PRESS RELEASE from Cairns Street Residents 'Four Streets Environmental Project'
Granby developer’s ‘blatant breach of trust and contractual obligations’
Granby residents have called on Liverpool City Council to urgently address what they say is ‘a blatant breach of trust’ by contractors working on the regeneration of historic Toxteth terraces. Failure to carry out proper procedures for demolition and the deliberate bulldozing of part of a house scheduled to be refurbished - has so weakened that property, it is currently threatened with demolition.
They say builders Lovell’s had been granted permission by Liverpool City Council to demolish 2 homes in Cairns Street (permission that was bitterly fought by residents). However, they and the Council had assured residents that the remainder of the terrace would be left intact and not structurally weakened; Lovell’s had provided a Structural Engineer’s report outlining the methods of demolition they would follow ensure this.
In fact these methods had, at the time they were produced in May, been deemed inadequate by residents – who were not allowed to get a second expert opinion and refused access to the properties.
It now turns out that Lovell’s contractor has not followed their own procedures in demolishing these properties – they never even bothered to go into the adjoining house to check on its condition prior to starting demolition.
Not only that – they also took it into their own hands to demolish its outrigger – to make more room for the huge equipment they are using as part of the planned refurbishment of Beaconsfield Street. Local resident Eleanor Lee said, ‘Did they have any planning permission for this? Was the City Council asked prior to demolition or informed after the event? Can a developer simply knock down part of a house that it doesn’t own, if it seems to be getting in the way of its machinery?’
It was this unscheduled demolition – with no prior authority, which was carried out with no prior examination to ascertain any possible threat to the rest of the building, that has caused the entire building to be deemed a dangerous structure and which the Council now say, can be demolished.
Local resident Carole Foulder, who lives on the same side of the street as the threatened house, said, ‘Lovell’s have shown gross negligence and incompetence – and need to be made accountable by the City Council. After all, the Council has responsibility for ensuring their contractors abide by the agreements. At this point in time it looks as if they are going to do absolutely nothing to protect their own interests and those of local home-owners. They appear to be gutless apologists for Lovell’s’
Residents hit the headlines two months ago when they organised a blockade to prevent clearance of two homes on the end of Cairns Street in Liverpool 8. At the time they agreed to lift the picket after meeting with the Councillors and developers and being assured that other homes in the terrace would be left intact, ready for future refurbishment and that the refurbishment of Beaconsfield Street depended on these houses being demolished.
Cairns Street resident Eleanor Lee said ‘Until we can get legal assistance, only the council can protect us from such a clear breach of trust. It beggars belief that a major house-builder like Lovell’s can be allowed to ignore its own agreed methods for demolition – and on top of this deliberately demolish part of an unscheduled property because it was getting in its way!’
These are the same builders – who along with Plus Dane are currently refurbishing Beaconsfield Street. Residents have noticed with growing alarm, that nearly 50% of these properties are deemed dangerous. Residents have no trust in what the developers say anymore – and accuse the Council of turning a blind eye to demolition by stealth.
Resident Maria Bassey said, ‘We have asked – and still do, for access to these houses so that we can get a structural engineer to carry out an independent survey. It borders on sinister that they won’t let us bring our own surveyor in to report on the site for ourselves.’
Local residents have long expressed frustration at the slow progress of regeneration in Toxteth, criticising an apparent lack of appetite for any method other than clearance of Victorian homes.
Merseyside Civic Society council member Jonathan Brown said ‘Inner Liverpool’s neighbourhoods have been subject to a war of attrition imposed over decades by our own public authorities. Attractive streets have been bought up and boarded up with money meant for their regeneration. Residents in Granby have just set up a land trust to bring empty homes back into use - but this cannot work if the developers have already bulldozed them. The council needs to act to honour agreements made with local people.’
Cairns Street Residents 'Four Streets Environmental Project'