The Eldonian Village Project, Vauxhall, Liverpool The Eldonian Village Project in Liverpool is a world famous example of how local people worked in partnership to ensure that the inner city area of Vauxhall was regenerated with them in mind and so that the original local residents could continue to live in an established community.
The Eldonian Village is located at the end of the Leeds-Liverpool canal in the Vauxhall ward, off a main arterial route out of Liverpool City Centre, and close to the northern docks of the city. It is an inner-city area just on the northern edge of the city centre, that has seen massive economic and social change over the course of the 20th century, with entire industries rising and declining, and very extensive new housing developments. These changes have had huge impacts on the local population.
The 1840s saw a influx of Irish immigrants who settled in Vauxhall. They lived and worked by the dock complex north of the city centre, housed in poor quality high volume housing where disease and social deprivation was rife. The workforce was largely low paid and involved in semi-skilled work.
The 1930s saw the demolition of the slum areas of Vauxhall, and their replacement by council-owned walk up tenement blocks. While a huge improvement on the overcrowded and unhygienic court housing that had existed before, these blocks would soon create their own social problems. Much of these blocks were removed by heavy bombing in the Second Word War.
As a result of the closeness of the area to the dock complex in the north of the city and the inaccuracy of many of the bombing raids this meant that large residential parts of the Vauxhall area were left in complete ruins. The destruction of the war required an enormous rebuilding effort that continued through the 1950s and 1960s, years which also saw a boom in the dock trade central to the city's economy.
Why did the area decline and what were the consequences? By the late 1970s, the dock complex began to decline because changes to the global economy. This meant there was less employment opportunities. There were factory closures resulting in high levels of unemployment, with whole families thrown out of work by the loss of a single large-scale employer. So the area started to de-populate, as people sought work elsewhere. The social consequences were poor housing conditions, a poor urban environment and a lack of local facilities. The Vauxhall area had long suffered from the effects of long-term neglect; run-down housing, a declining environment, depopulation, high unemployment and poor local facilities.
The local residents attempted to reverse social and economic decline with the creation of the Portland Gardens Co-operative in 1978. They had no income, and they worked with the free advice services of a committed group of workers from local housing associations and from a local private firm of architects.
They wanted to redevelop five sites around Portland Gardens to build 130 new homes, and a 36-unit refurbished sheltered housing complex.
The Co-operative was a response to plans drawn up by Liverpool City Council to clear the old decayed tenements and to disperse the population living in them throughout Merseyside. However the Vauxhall community wanted to stay together and was a key driving force behind the development.
The First Regeneration Scheme (2) The Co-operative was a response to plans drawn up by Liverpool City Council to clear the old decayed tenements and to disperse the population living in them throughout Merseyside. However the Vauxhall community wanted to stay together and was a key driving force behind the development.
THE 1980s: A TIME FOR CHANGE However, the election of a new city council in 1983 saw the Portland Gardens project taken over by the council threatening to break the community of Vauxhall to estates all over Merseyside. Also the Tate and Lyle sugar refinery on Vauxhall Road closed in 1981, and the British American Tobacco plant on Commercial Road also closed. Over 3,000 local jobs were lost as a result, and the future of the Vauxhall area seemed to disappear. The Tate and Lyle site was also heavily contaminated and polluted, and its closure left a huge derelict area in the middle of the Vauxhall ward. The Eldonians were determined to respond and create a better future for all, to work to keep the community together and to provide quality, affordable housing. The community's need for new affordable housing, and the huge derelict site left vacant by Tate and Lyle started the Eldonians on the road to totally re-developing the area. In 1986 they secured an offer of 6.6m of grants and loans to develop the original housing.
Today All the housing projects and the great majority of the wider developments are self financing without resource to ongoing grant assistance. They aim to provide good quality, affordable housing. It currently rents out 310 properties to those in housing need, and also manages 147 other properties on three adjacent sites. The Association employs fourteen staff, has over 300 members, and 75% of the Board of Management are tenants, reflecting the community-based nature of the association. Today the organisation directly employs 90 staff but has created jobs for over 250 people. it has a total asset base of £50 million and an annual turnover in the region of £2 million .
Today (2) The Eldonians is a Community Based Housing Association which is an officially recognised social landlord and has a distinctive approach towards housing, which seeks to involve everyone in the design and layout of each estate, which tries to ensure that each property looks different, that houses overlook one another, that integrates the needs of the disabled, the elderly and those with special needs within the wider community and the planning and construction process. This is to encourage a genuine sense of ownership within the local community, which underpins all the work the CBHA does. This attitude is also reflected in the recent purchase of Eldonian House Residential Home by the CBHA, and in the visit by European Union social housing network CECODHAS to the Village in February 2003.
Helped develop 400 quality homes for rent Improved the quality of life in the Vauxhall area
Helped improve 43 acres of land Won local and national recognition for our work and ethos
Helped encourage the building of 300 homes for sale Won six major awards, including BURA
The use of Leeds-Liverpool Canal as an urban feature : this has provided desirable and affordable waterside accommodation for local residents. Designing out crime : The lay-out of the village has been achieved in such a way as to ensure that traffic crime and anti-social behaviour are minimised with measures that include houses being over-looked by others and speed-bumps.
Local needs other than housing taken into account such as:
A Community Trust with over 600 members;
New homes and housing management services for over 2000 people;
Elderly car facilities
A total transformation of the physical environment;
A Village Hall;
A Children's Nursery;
A Sports Centre;
A development advice service for other communities;
A Neighborhood Warden Service;
Over 50m in assets and,
Partnership Projects bringing in 100m private sector investment.
Threats The waiting list for housing runs to hundreds, with applications from the US and Germany, but nobody wants to leave. Three-bedroom houses are most popular and the last family to get one had waited seven years.
Development of the Community Wardens scheme patrolling the local area and contracting commercially to form a sustainable business.
Re-development of the Garden Centre site, as a base for community businesses, offering horticultural training, new jobs, retail facilities, a “farmers market”, health food shop, café, a base for landscaping and grounds maintenance services and linkages to wider community projects.
Development of managed workspace, creating new enterprise and employment.
Further development of Eldonian Enterprises Limited, a company providing consultancy advice, structured tours and conferences.
Promoting the regeneration of Stanley Dock & the wider waterfront area.