HMRI bodies pledge to plough on

Michael Hunt

Organisations responsible for delivering the controversial Housing Market Renewal Initiative Pathfinder projects in the region say they will continue to deliver new housing and seek alternative sources of finance despite the Government refusing to extend funding past March 2011.

The Coalition Government said it will complete all committed HMRI schemes before it rolls the programme funding into its Regional Growth Fund, which has a budget of £1.4bn between 2011 and 2014.

However, the Oldham and Rochdale HMRI pathfinder told Place it is still uncertain which committed schemes in the areas it covers will receive funding and central Government is still to explain how funding will be allocated once the HMRI programme is scrapped.

Oldham and Rochdale has a budget of £23.6m for the 2010/2011 financial year and said its main new build projects include:

  • Development with Bellway Homes – 148 properties in Derker – planning permission granted, start on site to be confirmed
  • Development with Keepmoat Homes – 64 properties in north Werneth – planning permission granted this year
  • Development with Countryside Properties – up to 300 at Borough Mill Triangle site, Hathershaw, clearance of site progressing, with planning permission granted

The pathfinder said HMRI funding has also supported the demolition of redundant properties at Primrose Bank ahead of a development by Inspiral consortium.

New Heartlands, the Housing Market Renewal Initiative for Merseyside, said delivery teams in Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral are continuing to engage with registered social landlords and the private sector to ensure that the progress to renew neighbourhoods which had experienced long term decline continues over the four year spending review period.

Brendan Nevin, interim managing director of NewHeartlands, said: "NewHeartlands, residents and the three local authorities all remain committed to finish the Housing Market Renewal programme. We will seek to increase the resources coming into the area through dialogue with central government, and developing innovative approaches to funding new development. The audit commission recently noted that the pathfinder was "performing strongly" the highest category of performance. We are, therefore well placed to secure resources through competition.

"We will be bidding on several different funding sources and making our first bid to central government in January next year and then another bid in spring 2011.

"There are four or five funding sources we're going to be looking at including the Regional Growth Fund, a resource for affordable homes, funding for empty homes and we'll also look at European funding to deliver the same schemes if we were using a bespoke source of funding.

"The programme isn't being stopped; it's just going to be more difficult to pull all the finance together to continue the work."

The Manchester and Salford pathfinder is also taking a positive stance following the recent announcement.

A spokesperson for the MSP, said: "MSP and Manchester and Salford City Councils are considering how we take forward our plans following the publication of the Local Growth White Paper and launch of the Regional Growth Fund. We remain committed to the long-term restructuring of the housing market in inner urban areas in both cities."

Regenerate Pennine Lancashire, the pathfinder for east Lancashire, said it is confident future funding opportunities will become available despite the uncertainty.

The ten HMRI pathfinders across England were set up under Labour from 2003 with an aim at stimulating the housing market in low demand areas.

The programme was expected to run for up to 15 years.

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