Sunday, 8 November 2020

John McCall Obituary

John McCall believed in improving community housing instead of bulldozing it

By Neville Kirk
4th November 2020
The Guardian

My friend John McCall, who has died aged 75 from cancer, was a leading architect who was committed to the green environment, social housing and civic provision. John designed pioneering low-energy and sustainable homes in north-west England.

He was also involved in a successful campaign to prevent slum clearance in Longsight, Manchester, and to save the homes instead. In Hayfield, High Peak, Derbyshire, he was centrally involved in refurbishing the Memorial Square, reviving a neglected central part of the village.

John was born in Glasgow, the only child of George McCall, a decorator, and Edith (nee Davis), a factory worker. The family moved to Hyde, Edith’s home town, while John was a baby. John attended Stockport school, a state grammar. He studied architecture at Liverpool University, gaining a first-class honours degree in 1969. He retained teaching and examining connections with the university up to his retirement.

John met Susan Hotchkiss, a student at Liverpool Art College, and they married in January 1971. Sue became an established artist. From 1973 to 1991 John was a key figure in Michael Hyde and Associates in Manchester. Between 1991 and his retirement in 2010 he was head of John McCall Architects, based in Liverpool and Hayfield.

In the 1970s John was involved in a campaign that prevented the demolition of many homes and communities in Longsight, as part of Manchester City Council’s slum clearance programme. As a key member of the Manchester and Salford Housing Action group, formed by radical architects and other professionals, he pioneered more democratic ways of working with residents.

They carried out surveys of targeted properties, costed the options and concluded that it would be preferable to save and improve the existing houses and preserve the strong sense of local community and identity than bulldoze the properties. They produced information for residents, including material in Urdu. They made their case to the slum clearance hearings and were successful. Seven out of the nine proposed slum-clearance areas in Manchester were saved and became general improvement areas.

In 1977 John and his colleagues, working under the auspices of the Help the Aged Housing Association, won a Civic Trust award for their provision of the first sheltered housing scheme in Norman’s Place, Altrincham.

In Hayfield, High Peak, he was centrally involved in environmental and civic projects, including the Sustainable Hayfield Energy Group, which secured funding to help villagers improve the energy efficiency of homes. The creation of an eco-friendly environment, including social housing and strong communities, underpinned John’s philosophy and practice.

John was a generous, caring and optimistic person with a passion for fairness and social justice. He was sociable, enjoyed the pub and music and had great joie de vivre. John played cricket, the drums in his own band and, unusually, supported both Liverpool and Manchester City. He actively promoted local fell-running and believed in wider access to the hills. He designed his boat, Muddy Waters, on which and he and Sue spent happy holidays.

John is survived by Sue, his children, Katy and Jim, and grandchildren, Arthur, Anna, Johnny, Etta and Rose.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Green Homes Grant - for you?

Hayfield residents amongst you should all have had in the ;last few days a little leaflet delivered to you from the Parish Council and Sustainable Hayfield drawing your attention to the government's Green Homes Grant. We are very grateful to the Parish Council, as part of its wider work on climate change, for generously funding production of this leaflet.

The Green Homes Grant is amazing in three respects:

  • it's huge. It offers up to £1.5 billion to homeowners and residential landlords to help fund energy efficiency improvements and cut their carbon footprints, up to £5,000 per household for those not relying on benefits, and up to £10,000 for those on means-tested benefits, and/or Attendance Allowance. Those on benefits need make no contribution to costs, those not on benefits are expected to pay one third the cost of energy improvements commissioned.
  • it's got a really short timescale for applications, and for having work done, which will be authorised by vouchers. All works are, currently, due to be completed by March 31st 2021 although it will be interesting to see whether a renewed 'lockdown' will cause a change of heart there.
  • it's all to be progressed online via the website identified on the leaflet we distributed. i.e. There is no government-sponsored hard copy information about the scheme. But, for those who might need some help applying for the grant, we have given our energy group's email address ( and a telephone number of one of the group's members (07769 508302) if you want to make contact.

So, if you are serious about securing greater energy efficiency in your home, do have a look at what's possible by this scheme. There are eligibility criteria to be met. We wish you well.

Wednesday, 21 October 2020

Hayfield Community Orchard 2020 – Apple Juice

This year’s apple crop has been very good and as we were unable to hold the Annual Apple Day at the Primary School, where we normally juice the apples to give away, this year we decided to try something different.

The apples that were collected by the village volunteers were taken to High Peak Cider Press in Birch Vale to be cleaned, pressed and turned into pasteurised juice. 87 litres of juice has been produced from this year’s crop. The 1 litre bottles can now be distributed to those in the village who would like one.

We will be setting up outside the Packhorse on Saturday 24th October at 9 am, with the bottles of juice to give away.

The processing and bottling of the juice has resulted in a cost to the Community Orchard of £1.60 a litre. The Parish Council and Sustainable Hayfield have offered to offset this cost this year but donations would be welcome to pay back both for their generosity and support.

Next year we are hoping to put the Community Orchard on to a more commercial basis for the benefit of the community. If you are interested in becoming involved in the Community Orchard Project please contact Councilor Cath Hughes or Derek Clarke.

If you missed the videos that we made to provide you with some of the other elements of Apple day, click here, sit back and enjoy!

Saturday, 10 October 2020

Welcome to Apple Day 2020

For obvious reasons, we've not been able to hold our normal Apple Day this year. So we thought we'd bring you a virtual version, sharing with you some short videos from local people, displaying sustainable talents from bee keeping to preserving, and updating on how we've made best use of our community orchard apples this year. Despite disruption to our lives, the apple harvest has been as good in 2020 as any other year, and our intrepid pickers have been busy picking, sorting, bagging and boxing them...

Some of 2020's apples have gone to Glossop and New Mills Food Banks, and the rest will go to High Peak Cider Press, for juicing/bottling. We hope to share an anticipated 40 litres with the Hayfield community soon. Watch our notices and updates for more information! So, click here, sit back and enjoy! And, if you've a sustainable skill you'd like to share, get in contact with us at and we'll talk videoing you at work!

Thanks for all your support and interest.

Thursday, 8 October 2020

New Mills Fashion Week

People's invention knows no bounds!

Please find below a poster for a series of 5 free online ‘zoom’ events, Mon 12th to Fri 16th October, celebrating New Mills Fashion Week, which brings an alternative look at clothes and fashion, designed to be informative, thought provoking & fun!

It's a delight that such a series of such events should be organised so close to home. It's bound to be stimulating! Hopefully, you can join in whichever of the events appeals to you.

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Powering Our Homes with Renewable Energy - Survey Form

We advised some weeks ago our success in getting funding to explore the feasibility of developing a solar farm in the parish, to help supply clean energy to the locality. As part of that work, we’ve now produced a survey form to local households to get your views on renewable energy supply to Hayfield, with some focus on the possibility of a solar farm. You can complete the survey online here.

We’ll also be delivering this door to door.

If you live in Hayfield parish, we hope you’ll want to complete it. This will inform our continuing work. As you’ll see, you can return it hard copy or, preferably, electronically, by September 7th to since electronic return makes analysis of responses somewhat easier. A good return rate from Sustainable Hayfield supporters will help our work considerably.

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Summer Newsletter

Our summer newsletter is ready for download. We hope you find it of interest. Given 'lockdown', it's encouraging to see how much has been happening.

We'd draw your attention to local interest there is in having some regular 'litter picks' around the village (see page 5). If you'd be interested in joining in what might be, say, monthly activity, do email me at