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Major steps were announced today to put the heart and soul back into ...
Major steps were announced today to put the heart and soul back into

rundown housing areas by local government secretary Stephen Byers.

Nine areas, where streets of boarded up and abandoned homes have led

to a spiral of decline and misery for thousands of local residents,

will get the opportunity to work with government to establish

pathfinder projects. Their aim will be to provide lasting solutions

for communities blighted by derelict homes through investment and

innovation. The size of the areas to be covered will be significant

ranging from 40,000 to 120,000 properties. The lessons learnt can

then be applied to other areas.

Mr Byers said:

'Derelict homes don't just scar the landscape. They make life

intolerable for those still living there. Those who can, leave, those

left are often trapped in negative equity. Legitimate landlords

struggle whilst rogue landlords flourish. Crime is endemic. Hard

working people find that their investment in a home of their own is

suddenly worth a fraction of its true value.

'The knock on effect is immense, it permeates our towns and cities.

Declining areas destroy the fabric of our society.'

Pathfinders will be formed in Greater Manchester, Merseyside, East

Lancashire, Oldham and Rochdale, South Yorkshire, Humberside (Hull),

Tyneside, North Staffordshire (Stoke), and Birmingham and Sandwell.

Mr Byers added:

'It is not sufficient to tackle the housing problem alone. Local

authorities must work closely together with their partners - the

police, the health authority, the regional development agency,

housing corporation and private sector - to rejuvenate our towns and


'The pathfinder projects will have to make some radical decisions in

order to regenerate these areas. Low demand and abandoned housing is

a major problem. But it also provides a unique opportunity to

restructure and rebuild our cities for the twenty first century. We

must now seize that opportunity. The government will work with local

people to deliver the change necessary and bring hope to those


Many have made the case for substantial additional capital investment

to address the problems of low demand. This will be considered as

part of the government's spending review. But capital spend if it is

to achieve good value requires careful preparation. That preparation

must start now and strategic action plans developed.


1. A poor local environment and problems such as crime and

anti-social behaviour can have a negative impact on demand in a

particular neighbourhood. DTLR estimates that 880,000 homes are in

areas of low demand, of which 520,000 are private and 360,000

social housing.

2. Low demand housing is defined as:

i. In the case of private sector housing, neighbourhoods of at

least 50 dwellings where private sector housing is predominant and

one or more of the following symptoms apply:

- private property value particularly low and/or falling in absolute


- high private sector void rate

-high turnover of population

- significant incidence of long-term private sector voids or

abandoned properties

- visibly high incidence of properties for sale or let

ii. In the case of social housing, housing in blocks or management

patches of at least 50 dwellings where one or more of the following

symptoms is exhibited:

- a small or non-existent waiting list

- tenancy offers frequently refused

- high rates of voids available for letting

- high rates of tenancy turnover

iii. or where marketing intiatives or exceptional allocations

polices have been implemented to counter low demand/unpopularity.

3. Pathfinder project areas have been selected by analysis of the

prevalence of low demand for housing, and study of different

housing markets.

4. Pathfinder areas have been selected by analysis of the

prevalence of low demand for housing, and study of different

housing markets. The details of the pathfinders are:

- Manchester: north and east Manchester/central Salford

- Merseyside: inner Liverpool, south Sefton and parts of Wirral

- East Lancashire: Blackburn, Hyndburn, Burnley, Pendle


- South Yorkshire: north Sheffield, north Rotherham, south Barnsley

and west Doncaster

- Humberside: Hull and adjacent areas of the East Riding of Yorkshire

- Tyneside: Newcastle, Gateshead

- North Staffordshire: Stoke on Trent and east Newcastle under Lyme

- Birmingham/Sandwell: north west Birmingham and east Sandwell

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