by Mark Johnston
The housing market renewal or pathfinder scheme, as it was also known, was launched in 2001 by the government. It was a 15 year scheme that was intended to reverse housing market failure in deprived parts of the Midlands and Northern England.
The idea behind the pathfinder scheme was simple; it involved getting rid of cramped flats or smaller terraced houses, especially those with doors that opened directly on the street as many councils believed that people did not want to live in these houses. They then intended to replace them with a house with a front garden.
This scheme resulted in billions of pounds being spent on emptying and demolishing houses. From 2003 to 2011 the government spent a total of £2.3 billion on demolishing 30,000 houses, however due to the recession only around 15,000 new homes were built.
It seems that from the start the pathfinder scheme showed an appetite for destruction, whole neighbourhoods were declared surplus. Local communities in these deprived areas were told they would see transformations in their areas, however in reality this amounted to bulldozing buildings and pitting neighbour against neighbour.
Many critics of the scheme suggested that this was merely ‘an exercise in social cleansing’ and added that it had actually resulted in thousands of perfectly good homes being demolished and very often not replaced. Many of these homes could have in fact been easily renovated instead.
Housing minister, Grant Shapps decided last year to ‘pull the plug’ on this particular scheme and called the entire programme a ‘shambles’.
However as the funding was pulled halfway through the programme it destroyed many communities hopes for a better future.
The communities and local government committee said that due to the cuts to regeneration projects many people have now being left ‘stranded in appalling conditions’ and they added that many more were therefore ‘trapped’ in half demolished streets where the homes that have not been demolished but are empty are boarded up and some have even been set ablaze.
Labour chairman, Clive Betts said “people living next door to boarded up houses are unable to move because there is not the money to compensate them and there are also no new houses for them to move to”.
Grant Shapps, the housing minister has however said that ‘help is coming soon’ for the worst affected areas and he has offered a £30 million ‘lifeline’ to 5 pathfinder areas where the progress has been the slowest.
Some government ministers have suggested that the £1.4 b
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