Today I travelled to my favourite city, Liverpool and along the way visited the infamous ghost village that consists of row upon row of around 450 empty houses where Ringo Starr once lived as a child. They have been part of a ruthless campaign to halt their demolition after the local government condemned the entire area as part of the city's regeneration. The area is full of grieving poems plastered on walls, signatures and art installations but the only noises heard around here are the birds.This particular street has been used to film the tv drama 'Peaky Blinders'.
The threat to Ringo Starr's birthplace announced in 2003 prompted uproar in parts of the neighbourhood and among fans all over the world. A proposal was made in September 2005 to take down the house brick by brick and rebuild it as a centrepiece for the Museum of Liverpool Life. This was a reversal of Liverpool council's earlier claim the house had no historic value. However, as of 2012, number 9 Madryn Street and several hundred other houses still stands, although most have been emptied of residents. Starr said it was not worth taking the house down simply to rebuild it elsewhere, as it would not then be his birthplace. Many suggested demolition of the area surrounding Starr's home was unsatisfactory, claiming "People liked the city's character, not packaged replicas". Council survey data published in 2005 showed the Welsh Streets were broadly popular with residents and in better than average condition, but were condemned for demolition because of a perceived 'over-supply' of 'obsolete' terraced houses in Liverpool. The land was offered to private developer Gleeson's and social landlord Plus Dane and proposals published for lower density houses. Some residents were happy to be offered new homes, while others were determined to stay.
The proposals have divided the local community. Clearance has proved highly contentious, with some taking the view that the houses are beyond rescue, while others believe they are fundamentally sound. Campaigning charities led by Merseyside Civic Society and SAVE Britain's Heritage have asserted that renovation would be preferable and cheaper. By 2009 over 100 residents had been rehoused together into a neighbourhood nearby which they had helped to design. Others had left the area altogether.
In 2011 the Secretary of State quashed planning permission for demolition and required an Environmental Impact Assessment. In summer 2012 new proposals for demolition of 250 houses were endorsed by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson and Housing Minister Grant Shapps, who visited the area to announce retention of 9 Madryn Street and 15 adjacent homes. Local residents in the Welsh Streets Home Group have consulted on alternative renovation proposals that retain the majority of the houses, remodelled as environmentally friendly eco-homes.