People living in the Granby triangle claim they are being squeezed out of the area by the Liverpool Council and a private developer, regardless of whether their houses are earmarked for demolition or simply “remodelling”.
Under council plans, Ducie, Jermyn, Cairns and Beaconsfield Streets are all up for renewal. A £27m project, still in its early stages, would see some terraces knocked down and replaced and others refurbished to create a development of 235 homes.
Building company Lovell has been appointed to carry out the scheme and an update report will be presented to the council executive over the coming months.
But locals, many of whom are members of the Granby Residents’ Association, claim they were warned that all properties must be owned by the developer before work goes ahead.
If true, any compulsory buy-up of houses would be based on the market value. Residents fear that with more than half the properties standing empty, and many falling into poor repair, prices would be low.
Property values following regeneration would increase massively, putting the new homes out of reach of most current residents.
Liverpool Council says discussions are still underway over “viability issues” and that no decision has yet been made.
But angry residents have vowed to fight any attempt to take their houses and blame the council for letting the area descend into a state of neglect.
Eleanor Lee, a Cairns Street for more than 30 years, said: “It’s is nothing short of legalised theft. If my house was down for refurbishment I’d be happy to fit in with their plans for its exterior. But that’s not enough.
“They want all properties vacant and in their possession. We will be forced to sell up and if we still want to live here – and can afford it – afterwards we’ll have to buy back at the going rate, which most of us can’t afford.”
Over recent years, more and more properties on the streets have become vacant as housing associations move their tenants away.
On Cairns Street less than 10 out of 60 homes are now occupied, and many of the empty buildings are in bad condition.
While campaigners admit some demolition is inevitable, they want more involvement in the plans.
They claim many terraces could be made structurally sound and fitted with central heating, double glazing and solar panels for about £30,000 each – far lower than the cost of replacement.
A spokesman for Liverpool Council said: “A Liverpool City Council spokesman said: “The total value of money that is proposed to be spent in the four Granby streets is £27m to build or refurbish 235 homes.
“But we are aware that a number of people are concerned about the affordability of some properties so we are exploring the possibility of alternative methods which could enable owners to retain ownership through equity gap finding or an arrangement, such as Artloan or Homebuy, based on the increase in the value of the property.
"This would save legal costs and guarantees the resident their existing home being returned back to them in a completely refurbished state.”
Paul Hulme, Lovell’s regional director, added: “This scheme is still at very early stages. We are currently in negotiations with the council with the aim of reaching a positive solution for people living in the area.”