Thursday, 9 September 2010

Love Me Do...

Post updated 17th September: Secretary of State Eric Pickles joins the campaign!

As for Mary Huxham, I'd suggest that if you don't want to live there don't, but others do.

Mary Huxham - Liverpool Welsh Streets from ciara leeming on Vimeo.

If you remove the gloss paint from the walls, and ensure the building can breathe in other ways, eg lime mortar (see SPAB for how to make that work) you might find the claimed damp disappears.

As for the claim of £150,000 to renovate? I doubt that very much! It's so much hogwash.

Post updated 2pm 9th Sept Latest SAVE News, with details of this, the wider Pathfinder and other SAVE campaigns:




National preservation charity SAVE Britain’s Heritage has joined forces with the Merseyside Civic Society (MCS) to apply for the listing of 9 Madryn Street, Liverpool, the birthplace and childhood home of the Beatles drummer Ringo Starr, together with five other buildings in Liverpool with intimate connections to the Beatles. The appeal comes in response to the City council’s bid to demolish Ringo’s birthplace in the Welsh Streets area of the city. Currently, none of the former Beatles homes in the city are listed, although two houses are owned and operated by the National Trust.

9 Madryn Street, where Ringo was born and lived until he was four, is earmarked for clearance as part of the government’s controversial Housing Market Renewal (Pathfinder) Initiative, described by the Urban Task Force as a 'crude, insensitive and wasteful' return to mass housing clearance, and criticised as ‘high risk’ by the National Audit Office. The programme has already resulted in the demolition of large swathes of northern towns and cities, leaving communities decimated and whole neighbourhoods destroyed.

Nowhere has this insensitivity and waste been more apparent than on Merseyside where entire districts of the well planned Victorian and Edwardian inner suburbs of Liverpool, a UNESCO World Heritage city, have been laid waste by blight imposed at immense public expense. Edge Hill, Toxteth, Kensington and Anfield have been subject to long term land banking, with communities, businesses and urban fabric forced to make way for acre after acre of vacant lots.

SAVE and the local Civic Society are calling for the immediate listing of Madryn Street, together with 10 Admiral Grove, Ringo’s subsequent childhood home; 12 Arnold Grove, the birthplace of George Harrison; Mendips, Menlove Avenue, where John Lennon lived from 1945 to 1963; 20 Forthlin Road, childhood home of Paul McCartney, and the ornate iron gates and stone piers of Strawberry Field, all that remains of the house and gardens which inspired one of the Beatles’ most famous songs.

William Palin, Secretary of SAVE says ‘This is a bid for national recognition and statutory protection for a group of buildings which are intimately associated with the four men who, together, became the greatest cultural phenomenon of the 20th century.

‘In 1973, Liverpool’s celebrated Cavern Club, birthplace of the Beatles, was demolished because of a council compulsory purchase order, to make room for a ventilation shaft that was never built. The destruction of Madryn Street would represent another tragic loss and a further assault on the heart and spirit of the city.’

‘It is astonishing and distressing that Liverpool City Council retains such a callous disregard for its cultural heritage, and sad that it should fall to organisations such as SAVE and the MCS to protect and promote buildings within the city that have such huge historic and socio-economic importance.’

Marcus Binney, President of SAVE says ‘From the very start of listing in 1945 the Act provided for listing buildings for their special historic interest as well as their architectural quality. The earliest guidelines for listing specifically mention buildings which are associated in the public mind with famous people. The Liverpool sites associated with the Beatles including their childhood homes are clearly of the strongest interest to the British public as witnessed by the thousands of visitors to the Beatles homes owned by the National Trust’.

Merseyside Civic Society planner Jonathan Brown says: ‘20th-century Liverpool and its port helped shape the Beatles phenomenon; in the 21st century their global stardom illuminates Liverpool’s place on the world stage.’

‘The international public have an almighty appetite for sites and buildings associated with the band’s early story, a blessing city authorities have been slow to acknowledge.’

‘If allowed, demolition of their homes and birthplaces will eclipse loss of the Cavern Club as an act of crass cultural vandalism. In fact, it would be far less forgivable, because of what we now know about the importance of music and tourism to economic revival. We appeal to the Secretary of State to stop the bulldozers unleashed by Mr Prescott’.

‘Of course, the listing application is about much more than the birthplaces of four individuals; it is also about protecting the inner city communities of Liverpool from being sold out to narrow developer interests by public officials. The Pathfinder clearances have wiped out swathes of entire historic districts like Edge Hill, Anfield, Bootle and Toxteth; demolition of Beatles’ heritage is just a symptom of the scheme’s indifference to social values beyond land assembly.’


SAVE and the MCS have written to English Heritage to request the listing of the following buildings at Grade II:

9 Madryn Street, Liverpool, L8

The birthplace of drummer Richard Starkey (b. 7.7.1940), best known by his stage name, Ringo Starr (coined when he joined the Beatles in 1962). He lived here until the age of four.

The building is a two-bay, two-up two-down ‘back of pavement’ terraced house in the ‘Welsh Streets’ area of Toxteth, Liverpool developed in the late 19th-century to house migrant Welsh workers, most of whom were employed in the building trades.

The house and the area have been often recalled by Ringo during his career. ‘I was born at Number 9 Madryn Street, Liverpool 8’ are the highlighted first words in his section of the Beatles Anthology, the band's authorised autobiography. And his valedictory solo album Liverpool 8 features the single Liverpool I Love You and the lyric ‘Said goodbye to Madryn Street’. The house is visited daily by coach tours on the city’s Beatles trail, and plans for its demolition have attracted international press attention.

Photo: Marc Loudoun

10 Admiral Grove, Liverpool, L8

Ringo’s single Liverpool I Left You also referred to this house where he lived after moving from Madryn Street: ‘Liverpool I left you, said goodbye to Admiral Grove’. Two-bay, two-up two-down ‘back of pavement’ terraced house.

12 Arnold Grove, Liverpool, L15

The birthplace of Beatles guitarist George Harrison (b. 25.2.1943 d. 29.11.2001). He lived here for the first six years of his life. A two-bay, two-up two-down ‘back of pavement’ terraced house close to the iconic Penny Lane.

Photo: Mark Getty

Mendips, 251 Menlove Avenue, Liverpool, L25

This semi-detached house, built in 1933, was the childhood home of John Lennon (b. 1940) from 1945-1963. It is recorded with a blue EH plaque. Lennon lived at Mendips with his Aunt Mimi after the separation of his parents. He was here during the formative Beatles years, and a number of early songs were composed at Mendips with Paul McCartney. It is now owned by the National Trust and, like Forthlin Road, is a successful tourist attraction.

Photo: Mark Getty

20 Forthlin Road, Liverpool, L24

This semi-detatched post-war council house in Allerton was the childhood home of Paul McCartney (b. 1942) from 1955. It is owned by the National Trust and is a successful tourist attraction. John Lennon and Paul McCartney are known to have composed and practiced here.

Photo: Mark Getty

Strawberry Field, Beaconsfield Road, Liverpool, L25

Ornate iron gates and stone piers of 19th-century Gothic villa and gardens demolished c.1970, immortalised by Strawberry Fields Forever, one of the Beatle’s most famous songs, written by John Lennon in 1966.

Photo: Mark Getty

SAVE Britain’s Heritage has been campaigning for historic buildings since its formation in 1975 by a group of architects, journalists and planners. It is a strong, independent voice in conservation, free to respond rapidly to emergencies and to speak out loud for the historic built environment.

SAVE has been one of the strongest critics of the demolitions proposed as part of the government’s Housing Market Renewal (Pathfinder) Initiative. SAVE’s hard-hitting report on Pathfinder, published in 2006, highlighted the devastating effects of these clearances on both the communities and the architectural cohesion of towns and cities. SAVE has also drawn attention to wastefulness of demolition. SAVE’s position has been vindicated by a report by the Commons Committee of Public Accounts published in June 2008. The report warns of ‘…a risk that demolition sites, rather than newly built houses, will be the Programme’s legacy’ and concludes that ‘the needs of those who wish to remain in an area should not be overlooked in developing more mixed and sustainable communities.’

SAVE continues to support communities threatened by Pathfinder clearances and highlight the social, and environmental cost of demolitions. Its latest report, Reviving Britain’s Terraces: Life after Pathfinder, SAVE has teamed up with architect Mark Hines to look at how housing earmarked for demolition can be adapted, upgraded and remodelled to a high standard of energy efficiency, creating a range of accommodation and forming exemplar 'eco-communities' of the future. For more information and to purchase the report, visit the SAVE website

For more information contact:

William Palin (Secretary), SAVE Britain’s Heritage, 70 Cowcross Street, London, EC1M 6EJ. Tel: 020 7253 3500. Email:

Merseyside Civic Society was established in 1938 out of a concern for the built environment of the Liverpool City region. As a registered charity, the Society is dedicated both to preserving and celebrating our rich built heritage, and to campaigning for new schemes to be of the very highest standard. Membership of the Society is open to anyone sharing these ideals.

For more information contact:

Jonathan Brown

The Save Madryn Street Facebook Campaign:

PRESS RELEASE ISSUED BY SAVE Britain’s Heritage, 70 Cowcross Street, London EC1M 6EJ. Registered Charity 269129

See also the blog and website of EMPTY HOMES  @emptyhomes :

the national charity which campaigns for the re-use of empty homes; it too has been campaigning to stop the demolition of the Welsh Streets and other wasteful demolitions. In a country where there is a desperate shortage of housing, and a housing market which has collapsed, it makes no sense to demolish houses which are capable of re-occupation with a small amount of cash and effort.

For every two families that need a home there is one property standing empty. This isn't just inefficient it's unjust

Nina Edge - Liverpool Welsh Streets from ciara leeming on Vimeo.

Nina Edge is fighting to save her beautiful Victorian villa on Kelvin Grove, in Liverpool’s Toxteth neighbourhood, from the bulldozers. The house, along with all the other properties on her side of the street, is down for clearance under L8′s controversial Welsh Streets regeneration scheme, a Housing Market Renewal-funded project which aims to tackle what the authorities say is a failing housing market. The grand houses on Edge’s street have been lumped into a demolition scheme which mainly deals with small two-up, two-down terraces, and which will create a tempting plot of land for future redevelopment. Edge is convinced there would be demand for the houses on her street if the market was allowed to operate normally, and believes the other homes could also be saved and refurbished to a decent standard using modern techniques. More than five years after demolition was agreed in principle by Liverpool council, there has been no CPO and little substantial progress.

Another view:

Past post on Pathfinder and Liverpool:

More from Elizabeth Pascoe:

To take people's homes, for no good reason, is despicable... Elizabeth Pascoe


Thursday, 2 September 2010

Duanyising Britain

A view of the future?

The Expo I have more to write about; for today, a slight diversion, and it's linked.  I point in the direction of two thought-provoking articles in Scottish Review on Andres Duany, DPZ, and his  work for the Scottish Government.

The articles focus particularly on the Design Charette at Lochgelly, which was attended by the writer, Andrew Gray. Here's a video on the STV website and a report from last March

'Lochgelly? perhaps a kind of Scottish Truman Show'  quote from Duany

'Truman show' town planner turns sights on Lochgelly

VIDEO: Andres Duany, who designed the idyllic Florida film set, is aiming to transform a former Fife mining town.

As it states in Scottish Review:  In March this year the Scottish Government supported an American urban design firm Duany Plater-Zyberk to promote its brand of ‘New Urbanism’ in Scotland – as part of the government’s aspiration for the re-invention in Scotland of ‘traditional qualities of place’ and ‘traditional architecture’. Following Duany Plater-Zyberk to one of its three destinations in Scotland, the Fife town of Lochgelly, Andrew Guest asks what was learnt from this expensive exercise, why it was necessary for Americans to teach us how we should be developing our towns, and what are the implications of government support for ‘traditional architecture’ in 21st century Scotland.

Part 1:

Re-inventing Scotland

Part 2:

Welcome to the past

Concluding paragraphs:

Most places already own a wealth of cultural, social and creative skills which could contribute to this process – especially if supported by local and national authority. We don't need a team of outside experts to do this for us. We already have our own immense knowledge of historical and traditional architectural traditions if we want to draw on these to inform new design solutions for new communities – we don't need to rely on an outsider's sentimental view of what Scottish architecture was or could be. Past experience and tradition is important but so is interpreting this with new ideas and new experience today, and Scotland has a substantial reservoir of its own design talents and plenty recent design experience with which to do this. If it is invidious for the Scottish Government to back this expertise to lead a programme to promote better design, then perhaps that was not the right programme, or the government should not be taking this particular lead.

But above all a superficial nostalgia for a past ideal of community should not prevent us from facing up to the multi-sided challenges of urbanisation and sustainability in Scotland in the 21st century and from engaging creatively and openly in a process that asks 'What kind of places do we want?' and 'Who will they be for?' One of the accusations against modernism is that it relied on aesthetic solutions to deal with the social problems it encountered – one result of which was that everywhere ending up looking the same, and mostly pretty dull. Scotland is in danger of planning the next 50 years pursuing another false aesthetic ideal – an un-debated ideal of the traditional – the result of which will be another form of destructive monotony.

Andrew Guest lives in Edinburgh and writes on culture and the environment.
And hooray.

Urban Realm comments are interesting here:

and another video.

Link to the official charette site:

I gather Urban Realm has invited Duany to speak at a debate in October in Glasgow.  I expect that there will several architects with passionate views on 'Prince Charles urbanism' or 'shortbread tin Scotland'  willing to tackle him on the subject of 'traditional Scottish architecture' and its place in a 21st century Scotland.
My view is that Duany's views on urban planning may be the greatest thing to hit Scotland since Irn Bru; I cannot comment on that.  His views on architecture, however,  may not. My view is that possibly they are not.

Lochgelly, a proposal, from the Duany charette.

It's not only Scotland of course. For example, Duany and his brand of 'New Urbanism' is being imported to Norfolk:

Thorpe residents slammed for lack of vision




An American planner has set out his vision for a new village on the outskirts of Norwich - and it incorporates ideas from north Norfolk, Norwich city centre and even colonial America.

Architect and urban planner Andres Duany, of urban planning firm DPZ, is best-known for creating the feted Sea-side town in Florida, which featured as the backdrop to the film The Truman Show.

His plans to build 631 new homes at a woodland site off Plumstead Road, Pound Lane and near Salhouse Road in Thorpe St Andrew are equally revolutionary.

His vision is to keep many of the trees on the site with more than 50pc open spaces, but also to add urban living based on Burnham Market's Green, The Crescent, off Chapel Field Road, and housing developments in South Carolina.

Last night's public meeting in central Norwich was part of the innovative design process called a 'charrette' or sometimes enquiry by design, which is aimed at involving the community in the planning process from the start.

It was the final presentation after an intensive eight days of consultation in the area, which included a stormy meeting at Thorpe Village Hall where residents gave a resounding 'NO' to the plans...

and I note a group of  residents is fighting back:

The website also features Lochgelly. Interesting read.  I also note Duany spoke for one and  half hours, but didn't take questions.

Throughout the Charrette, Duany and his team said they were interested in the views of the people who live in Thorpe, and those who neighbour the woods. However earlier this year, in front of an audience of journalists at the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in Cambridge Massachusetts, Duany put forward the case that the planning process needed to be reformed as it has been usurped by the public, and especially by those people who neighbour the site of the proposed development. He argued consultation should not be with the public in general and especially the locals, instead it should consist of a controlled consultation with a selected group of local citizens, he stated that if this isn’t done the process is taken over by "a bunch of little mobs, invited in by idiot public planners."

Duany has been criticised by members of his own profession.

The April edition of the Architects Journal published an article entitled “Scottish architects fry new urbanist Duany” it stated that “American new urbanist Andres Duany has sparked protests from Scottish architects after alleging the country had not built any housing to be proud of since 1945”.

In the article Duany’s position is criticised by fellow architects as being “ill informed”, Peter Wilson, director of Edinburgh Napier University’s Wood Studio, said Duany’s ‘twee way of viewing Scotland’ was to blame. ‘He does all these charrettes at a great expense and then expects everything to look like small Scottish town Dunkeld’ In Thorpe’s case for Dunkeld read Burnham Market.

The above shows that the Charrette process is being cynically used by developers as a means to convince local people that opposing a development would be futile, that the proposal is a ‘done deal’ and that if the local people don’t work with the developer they may end up with something far worse...

Our local councillors have opposed these plans and our local MP Chloe Smith has written to Broadland District Council’s planning department to draw their attention to the strong local opposition to these proposals.

...The destruction of these woods is not a done deal, the local people of Thorpe, who Andres Duany may view as a ‘little mob’, can stop this development and save the woods and its rich wildlife for today and for future generations...

And here is part of my worry; that Duany and his 'design team' is now being hired by developers to give the gloss (and perhaps glitz) of respectability and 'consultation' to schemes which otherwise could prove contentious.

Is this the 'urban planning' version of hiring an 'internationally known  architect' (or his/her practice) to build an 'iconic building', a sure way to override all manner of planning policies and objections?

Is he the Messiah, or simply someone hired to do a job, and making a tidy sum out of it?

Linked past post:

Glancey in the Guardian, Dec 2008

Thou shalt not follow Duany's architectural gospel

British postwar architects have nothing to repent - it is Andres Duany's bland new urbanism that we must be saved from...



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