Under the Labour Government, John Prescott brought in the Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder programme. It set target for demolition. But the coalition has changed the policy to promote refurbishment.
In a statement to Parliament, the Housing Minister Grant Shapps says:
There was widespread public controversy over an obsession with demolition over refurbishment, the lack of transparency of the Pathfinder quangos, large profits by developers, the demolition of our nation’s Victorian heritage and perverse incentives being given to run down neighbourhoods.
Save Britain's Heritage has given their view of Prescott's policy:
"From the start, Pathfinder showed an appetite for destruction….The classic English terraced house was demonised as ‘obsolete’. Whole neighbourhoods were declared surplus at the keystroke of a consultant’s lap-top. Bureaucratic arrogance reduced communities to inmates of a ‘ZOO’ – Zone Of Opportunity – for house-builders. Statisticians assumed compulsory purchase and eviction for demolition were acceptable measures for householders in a property-owning democracy. Quite predictably, the cure turned out worse than the disease."
The targets have been scrapped as part of the Government's localist approach. Instead their are incentives for refurbishment and there has been extra money for the "ghost streets" worst hit by the Pathfinder programme.
The payment of this transition funding and unwinding of remaining Housing Market Renewal commitments therefore draws a line under the last Government’s flawed programme.
However, it is important that we continue to support housing and regeneration in places which have previously experienced severe housing market challenges. My Department and the Homes and Community Agency will continue to work closely with all former Housing Market Renewal areas, whether or not eligible to bid for the transition fund.