BBC News

Thousands apply to buy Liverpool homes for just £1

By Mairead Smyth & Helen Carter
BBC News

image captionThe boarded-up houses in Garrick Street, Liverpool, will sell for £1

Thousands of people have applied to buy more than 120 unloved and boarded-up Victorian homes for £1 in Liverpool.

While apparently a bargain, buyers must be committed to the city and have deep pockets to refurbish the homes.

In total, 2,750 people have expressed an interest in buying empty terraced properties in the Picton area.

The scheme, started by Mayor Joe Anderson in 2013, aims to regenerate deprived parts of the city and help the economy.

To be eligible for the £1 homes, applicants must have lived or worked in Liverpool, be employed and be first-time buyers. Liverpool City Council said between 120 and 150 homes will be sold in the latest wave.

Those with children and a good credit history also have priority and must "demonstrate they have the resources to undertake the cost of the refurbishment work".

In the successful first tranche, 20 homes were sold around Granby Four Streets and Arnside Road.

Liverpool connections

Ronnie Hughes, who has lived in Granby for many years, worries that the £1 homes "are being used as a solution to all of the problems, but you need to have a lot of money to sort things out with the properties", he said.

"You need to have at least £60,000 to get these homes back into use which is a lot of money and quite a stretch for many people."

Tony Mousdale, empty homes manager of Liverpool City Council, told the BBC: "All the plumbing and the electrics and fixtures and fittings have been ripped out - so it is pretty much a shell.

"It's a blank canvas and people can put their own stamp on it."

image captionProperties in Garrick Street are in a sorry state

Garrick Street, off Smithdown Road, one of the key routes into the city centre from the M62, is one of nine roads in Picton to be released for sale.

The area is dominated by "tinned-up" Victorian terraces with the doors and windows boarded up with metal sheeting.

Mr Hughes said he believes the failure of the previous Labour government's Pathfinder scheme to demolish and rebuild rundown Victorian terraces partly led to this issue.

Liverpool City Council's decision to board-up the properties has also been cited among other reasons for the area's decline as a result of the complex mixture of local and national politics.

A total of 250 applicants who were not successful in the last project were contacted by the local authority before the scheme was reopened to the general public.

The applicants will be contacted by the end of the month to let them know about the next stage in the process.

Last year, the keys to the first £1 home were handed over to Jayalal Madde by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson.

image captionLiverpool mayor Joe Anderson handed the keys to Jayalal Madde in exchange for £1 last December

Mr Mousdale said some homes were "worse than others" with old wallpaper and tiles around the fireplaces and no kitchens or bathrooms.

Analysis: Bronwyn Jones, BBC News online

I've seen the changes the area has gone through, having lived off Smithdown Road all my life.

It's home to a diverse community, changing all the time. The terraces were full of families with kids playing noisily in the street when I was growing up.

Recently, an influx of students led to takeaways and bars booming - people come from across the city for jerk chicken at Raggas.

Pockets struggle while dealing with dereliction, forced moves, and demolitions and a patch between Smithdown Road and Earle Road, where the £1 homes scheme is extended, sat idle for years.

Passing tinned-up houses on Tunstall Road on the 86 bus towards suburbia off Allerton Road only served to highlight the city's inequality.

But this area is on the up. Archbishop Blanch High School opened last month and Cullen Green community garden is flourishing.

There's a real sense of hope that this housing renewal will reinvigorate the community here for years to come.

He acknowledged it was "very much" a challenge for owners but insisted that was part of the appeal.

Some of the properties have been empty for at least 10 to 15 years.

'Turner Prize nominated'

In nearby Granby Four Streets in Toxteth, there has been a different model of regeneration after it fell into a similar "managed decline" as a result of decisions by housing associations and the council in the 1980s and 1990s following the Toxteth riots.

A Community Land Trust was formed and teamed up with artists' collective Assemble to create sustainable development for the area. A monthly Granby Street market which has been likened to a street party and jumble sale hybrid has been running for six years.

image copyrightAssemble/Tate Britain
image captionGranby Four Streets was among the nominees for the Turner Prize earlier this year

In May, Granby Four Streets was among the nominees for the Turner Prize as a result of the work carried out by Assemble. The announcement was welcomed in the area with bewilderment.

Ronnie Hughes added: "The Turner Prize nomination was surreal and it was like being in a semi-final of a big match - after that nothing really mattered."

Related Topics

  • Liverpool City Council
  • Liverpool

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