Pathfinder housing scheme to be wound up

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Madryn Street
Image caption,
Housing Market Renewal has led to many streets earmarked for demolition

The government is to end a controversial housing regeneration programme in England four years earlier than planned.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps is finishing the £1bn Pathfinder Housing Market Renewal scheme.

It was targeted at parts of the North West, the Midlands, the North East and Yorkshire.

But some councils are seeking urgent clarification from the government over the funding for some projects.

"I have visited Pathfinder schemes on many occasions, and some were very good and some had some problems," said Mr Shapps.

"We will complete all the committed [Housing Market Renewal] schemes, and we will then roll the funding up into the regional development fund."

However a spokesman for Oldham/Rochdale Housing Market Renewal, one of nine areas which was targetted by the Pathfinder programme, said, "We're still trying to get clarification over what happens at the end of this financial year."

A Department for Communities and Local Government spokesman said all projects which had funding until the end of the financial year would be completed.

The end of Pathfinder was welcomed by Will Palin of campaign group Save Britain's Heritage who said it had been "an expensive failure."

"Perfectly good houses have been demolished when they could have been refurbished or renovated," claimed Mr Palin.

"We estimate that 16,000 homes have been demolished and only 3,000 new ones have been built."

He described it as an "exercise in social cleansing".

When the scheme was introduced nine areas were said to need specific housing market renewal support: Birmingham/Sandwell, East Lancashire, Hull and East Riding, Manchester/Salford, Merseyside, Newcastle/Gateshead, North Staffordshire, Oldham/Rochdale and South Yorkshire.

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