Compulsory purchase considered over Anfield regeneration

Councillors in Liverpool are to be asked to approve the potential use of compulsory purchase orders (CPOs) so up to 30 properties in Anfield can be acquired to enable regeneration projects to take place.

The council says it wants ‘in principle’ approval for CPOs so they can be used as a last resort if it is unable to reach a sale agreement with property owners or, in some cases, is unable to trace the owners of derelict properties.

The council believes, however, that the vast majority of the 30 properties, which are derelict or sub-standard, will be acquired through negotiation and without having to resort to CPOs.

The acquisition of the properties is required to deliver all aspects of a potential £260m regeneration plan which will breathe new life into north Liverpool and has been backed by more than 80% of residents.

A consortium led by Liverpool City Council unveiled in June a vision to transform the Anfield area of the city close to and around Walton Breck Road.

A report seeking in principle consent to use CPO powers will be considered by the city council’s cabinet on Friday October 25.

But Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson says the council will not allow a handful of property owners to stand in the way of proposals which will deliver once-in-a-generation improvements for the local community.

Mayor Anderson said: “We have had overwhelming support from local residents and businesses for our plans and there is unarguable public interest in driving these proposals forward. The people of Anfield have been let down too often in the past. We will not let them down again.

“We remain confident that we will be able to acquire properties without having to resort to CPOs but want to get agreement for them should they be required. The legal justification for CPOs, should they be needed, is unequivocal.”

In total, there are or were some 699 properties in designated clearance zones in the Anfield and Everton areas. Out of those, 279 have already been demolished or are in the process of being demolished. Of the remaining 420 properties, 346 have already been purchased or agreement to purchase them has been reached. Negotiations are progressing well on others.

Liverpool City Council estimates that the very worst case scenario is that it might have to pursue CPOs for 30 properties. It is confident, however, that further agreements can be reached without having to resort to legal powers.

The council has taken an innovative approach to seeking housing solutions for those people relocating, including offering council-backed equity loans so home-owners can buy new homes without being overly burdened by mortgage repayments.

Properties are needed first and foremost for new housing, shopping facilities, public space, office buildings, a hotel and the creation of a public square. Other public spaces would include a new pedestrian-friendly boulevard which could be called 96th Avenue in memory of those who lost their lives or were injured in the Hillsborough disaster.

As part of the improvements, Liverpool Football Club has stated its preference is to expand its stadium subject to detailed feasibility studies and the community and home owners’ support.

There is also a proposal to complete the restoration of Stanley Park and to build a food hub at its centre which would offer food retail units, production and training facilities.

Altogether, the proposals could amount to some £260m investment and create 700 long-term jobs in one of the most deprived areas of the city.

They follow improvements which have already been made. These include over £40m of new housing, the restoration of Stanley Park including the Isla Gladstone conservatory, and the construction of the new Four Oaks Primary School and Mere Lane Health Centre.

The vision is designed to accelerate the improvements in place and to create the right environment for economic development, employment growth and personal wellbeing.

Residents and others have already provided very positive feedback on the plans. After taking into account those views, the vision and ideas will be drawn together into a detailed proposal for the area which would be officially endorsed by the city council. All stakeholders will be given the chance to have their say on the proposals before any such endorsement.

Robert Porter, Your Housing Group Director of Community Regeneration & Support, said: “Your Housing Group has already delivered more than 200 new and refurbished homes in the Anfield area in an investment programme worth more than £24m and we expect to invest a similar sum over the coming years to deliver a transformation in the quality and variety of homes – both for rent and for sale – which are available for local people.

“But to do that and to deliver some of the associated regeneration ideas such as the training hotel, we have to acquire land in a manner which is fair to property owners and which enables the schemes to progress. We have consulted at length with residents and businesses and are confident we have the support of the community to deliver these improvements.”

For more information visit www.anfieldproject.co.uk

REGENERATION PROPOSALS AT A GLANCE:
• Refurbishment of more than 550 homes in the Anfield/Rockfield areas
• Creation of a major, pedestrian-friendly new avenue to link Walton Breck Road High Street with Priory Road, running through Stanley Park
• The creation of a 10,000 sq ft Food Hub in Stanley Park
• Improvements to Walton Breck Road and Oakfield Road
• Creation of a public ‘Village’ square at the junction of the proposed new avenue and Walton Breck Road
• The clearance of derelict and sub-standard properties
• Continued development of new energy-efficient homes by Keepmoat west of Walton Breck Road – about 250 new homes in phases four and five of The Parks development, set in an attractive, greener safer environment
• The completion of the restoration of Stanley Park, including its car park, with a range of possible new features and uses
• Improvements in design to integrate the Park with neighbouring residential areas and make it easier to access
• The building of a 100-bed hotel, possibly in the Village Square, which would train young people in hospitality
• The creation of new office buildings – a ‘business hub’ – and new and improved retail premises in the Village Square and on Walton Breck Road/Oakfield Road