Liverpool shows how to properly use sports to revitalize a neighborhood

Two years on from when the builders and bulldozers moved in, there is a feeling that real, long-term regeneration is happening in the Anfield neighbourhood of Liverpool, England.

Resident Linda Shea believes that better times beckon for an area in which she has raised a family and lived for more than 30 years: ‘All this work being done is a sign that things are improving and the area will pick up again and it will be lovely when it’s finished. We’ve waited a long time.’

In 2013, a new partnership of Liverpool Council, Your Housing Group (YHG) and [professional football club] Liverpool FC came together to unveil a £260 million vision to transform the area – the Anfield Regeneration Project.

The football club committed to carrying out various studies to ascertain whether a stadium expansion was feasible and with a positive consultation Liverpool FC was able to confirm their project would go ahead from late 2014.

As fans from across the UK and beyond return to the neighbourhood to watch the Reds compete in the 2015/16 Premier League, the most visible sign of progress is the huge steel structure of LFC’s new main stand, rising into the sky. Behind the stadium, too, major progress has also been made to build and refurbish new homes for local people.

In the last two years alone, some 188 sub-standard and derelict properties have been demolished, many of them to make way for the proposed development of a new hotel and business centre, an avenue, public realm and retail premises.

Liverpool’s deputy mayor, Cllr Ann O’Byrne, adds that the change of approach is bringing benefits: “The difference is now this is not about “doing to” the community but working with the community to ensure they are involved step-by-step. Residents are a key partner in everything we do and I think the community needs to take a massive pat on the back for sticking with us and working through and not losing faith or heart.

The partners have all worked hard to deliver change In Anfield, there is also an understanding now that this is neither football nor housing led regeneration, but about creating a destination in the city, with football at its heart.

O’Byrne believes this regeneration project in the home of the Reds is a blueprint for the future: “We think this is the way to deliver regeneration, and we have started to roll it out in other areas. Despite different areas having different partners and challenges, the approach is to put the community at the heart of what we do.

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