Iain Wright visiting East Lancashire

Minister announces £500m HMRI funding for North West

The five Housing Market Renewal Initiative areas of the North West have been allocated £538m of public funding to continue their controversial demolition, rebuilding and refurbishment programmes.

The breakdown of funds, spread over the next three years, is as follows:

  • Merseyside New Heartlands: £152m
  • East Lancashire Elevate: £150m
  • Manchester Salford: £140m
  • Oldham Rochdale Partners in Action: £90m
  • West Cumbria: £6m

Iain Wright, housing minister, said: "The Housing Market Renewal Programme has been vital for restoring confidence in some of the most disadvantaged areas of the country. This substantial funding, together with increasing investment from the private sector and support from local authorities and others, will help the market renewal areas take forward their ambitious programmes to bring real change to places which only five years ago were facing decline and abandonment.

"This is a long-term programme, and there is still much work to do. The Pathfinder scheme has already made great progress in these areas, and this money will help bridge the gaps that still remain."

The Housing Market Renewal programme was established in 2002 to tackle problems of housing market failure, where prices were said to have collapsed and areas were facing widespread abandonment.

So far nationally the programme has enabled refurbishment of more than 40,000 houses, the demolition of around 10,000 properties, and the construction of 1,100 new homes.

However, the protocol of signing up a select few housebuilders to deliver the programme in each area has angered many in the property industry who see it as anti-competitive.

Also, demand along with house prices across the pathfinders have often soared since the scheme was devised and many critics say it is no longer necessary or advisable to demolish so many houses as the markets are more healthy than first thought.

A recent study by the National Audit Office found that all pathfinders have succeeded in closing the gaps in prices within their regions, and housing markets in local authorities chosen for the programme have, on the whole, performed better than housing markets in local authorities with the most similar problems of low demand not included.

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