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Farewell Flower Streets?

The future landscape of Kirkdale could soon dramatically change after the release of Canalside Project, that looks to regenerate CanalSide Park, The Ralla and The Flower Streets.

The first stage of consultation was held in May at The Gordon on Stanley Road. Cllr Joe Hanson says, “the general concepts and ideas got a positive reaction.”

“We’re looking at carrying out some feasibility studies in January, which will then lead to a second consultation with residents.”

Scottie Press spoke to Cllr Hanson about the logistics of residents in the Flower St and Orwelll Road, whose homes could be demolished as part of scheme. He explains that it would “not be dissimilar from what happened in Everton and Anfield” – a project Cllr Hanson worked on that pulled down houses to make way for Anfield’s stadium expansion.

“Some got compulsory purchased ordered, some sold, some knocked into two,” he explains and informs us that homeowners who are part of the Canalside Project could potentially “go into rental accommodation” in the transition period during the construction phase.

The Kirkdale Cllr admits it’s not a simple task. “One of the real issues is the people who want to sell and don’t get market value for their homes. It’s extremely complex – there are social issues, that’s why it’s essential to have the support of Foundation Homes.’

For many Flower Streets residents, the promise of regeneration isn’t new. Back in 2003 many of the houses were owned by Core Residential and set to be resold to a social housing provider. The homes ended up being flogged off three times that year to private landlords, without the knowledge of sitting tenants.

“One of the real issues is the people who want to sell and don’t get market value for their homes. It’s extremely complex – there are social issues, that’s why it’s essential to have the support of Foundation Homes."

“In the past, when the homes were supposed to be sold and turned into social housing and it didn’t go through, it led to dirty money coming into the area. It meant dysfunctional landlords ended up buying up all the houses, they didn’t care who they let the properties to,” Cllr Hanson adds.

The Flower Streets have since seen a steady decline over the last two decades, alongside the further deterioration of Stanley Road and the surrounding neighbourhoods.

Scottie Press went to speak to some local residents to find out what they think about the latest proposals.

Mrs McShane, a resident of Painsy St for 39 years says, “I think something needs to be done in the area, it’s going into a real decline. We are the forgotten ones, the Flower Streets have been forgotten for years and years. As far as I’m concerned, they’ve done nothing at all for us, all they’ve done is let private landlords take over and the houses have gone to ruins since they’ve done it!

“I’ve got my house up to scratch,” she adds, but says the upkeep of the rest of street is poor. “The rubbish in the entry is disgusting.”

Rubbish in alleyway

We asked Mrs McShane about moving house as part of the project. “I like my house, I love my house,” she says. “I’ve worked all my life to have it they way I want it. So long as we get a good deal on it, I’ve not a problem but I wouldn’t be moving to be paying rent anywhere else – I’d want a house for a house. I’ve worked all my life and my husband is retired now, I’m not going to start paying rent at my age now. I think that’s what they should do for the people who have worked hard to buy these houses and keep them up to standards for themselves and for the area.”

Mrs McShane also comments on Canalside Park: “The only thing it’s getting used for is drug use down there. It’s not getting used for anything else bar crime, they’re setting tents up down there, you can see the drug cars dropping off – it’s absolutely ridiculous now!

“It just can’t carry on the way it is.”

It’s also leading to “decent people leaving the houses,” she says.

Susan Grugile of Daisy St, is keen on the plans. “In honesty they could do with being knocked down, they’re awful, they’re falling to bits,” she says.

Regarding being rehoused on Canalside Park, Susan says, ”personally, I’m made up it’s being regenerated but I wouldn’t move over there.

“Me and my husband said the only time we would move out the area is in a box, but not any more with the way the area has become. Not unless they put decent people in them, that’s the only way I go into the new houses.

“You used to have to get a letter off god to get one of these houses. These streets used to be bustling with kids and everybody knew everybody, but people moved out because of upkeep of these houses is awful.

“I was never fearful of walking down my street in the dark, I am now,” she adds.

Fly tipping

Mr Walsh of Daisy Street, says: “The sooner the better!” And tells Scottie Press that the houses’ “steep stairs” and “high ceiling” aren’t practical, but says “leave the park” out of the development plans.

Dog walker Tony tells us he wasn’t aware of the plans. Once we informed him about about Canalside Park being built on, he says, “what about the rabbits?” but agreed the area did need regenerating.

Another resident of the Flower Streets says “The park is a lovely piece of grass, but no-one can use it. The children can’t even use the play area, it’s full of drugs and dog poo.”

The project’s plans to build on The Ralla, (the eight-acre stretch of woodland below Melrose Road) directly conflict with The Ralla Ecological Garden Project (TREGP). The community group wants to open up and preserve the green space for Kirkdale, while using the train arches as a cafe and a community hub.

TREGP member Fred says, “We’re waiting to hear the progress of the Canalside Project – we’ve been in the dark, like most people.

“It’s really difficult to see where we stand because the council’s plans don’t seem to be moving anywhere.”

He tells us how the community group has been “unable to access the land” but would be “interested in an interim use of land, even if the council does have broader plan which may or may not happen.

“There doesn’t seem to be any good reason why the community couldn’t be using the land,” he adds.

“It’s hard to keep a sense of momentum when you have such big barriers in front of you.”