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By Mark Smulian ...
By Mark Smulian

A massive council-led programme to turn round blighted areas of Manchester and Salford has won £125m of government backing after getting the green light from the Audit Commission.

The scheme is the first of nine housing market renewal pathfinders to pass its appraisal, and unlock funding for three years.

Chief housing inspector Roy Irwin said: 'Although we can't predict with absolute certainty that the proposals set out in the prospectus will succeed, it's clear they are well thought-out and researched.'

The two city councils plan to remove crumbling houses from areas surrounding the city centre, some of which lie in Salford.

They hope to build up to 12,000 new homes for shared ownership and improve the surrounding areas to try to create sustainable communities. The project has run into fears that swathes of characteristic terraced homes will go.

Eamonn Boylan, Manchester's deputy chief executive, said: 'It is being talked about as the end of terraced housing, but it is very far from that.

'We need a wider choice of homes to attract people to the inner urban area.'

A project to develop jobs in the knowledge economy will run in parallel, he said.

The pathfinders were designated to try to rescue areas where housing prices have plummeted and social housing does not attract tenants.

The other pathfinders are: Newcastle and Gateshead; Hull and East Riding of Yorkshire; South Yorkshire; Birmingham and Sandwell; Stoke-on-Trent and

Newcastle under Lyme; Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral; Oldham and Rochdale; East Lancashire.

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