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MINISTER WELCOMES NEW REPORT HIGHLIGHTING PATHFINDER PROGRESS

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A report highlighting the progress already being made by the government's housing market renewal pathfinders has be...
A report highlighting the progress already being made by the government's housing market renewal pathfinders has been welcomed by regeneration minister Jeff Rooker.

The minister joined the chairs of each of the nine pathfinders at the Delivering Sustainable Communities Summit in Manchester, and received the report on behalf of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister.

The report has been written by the pathfinder chairs to outline progress that has been made so far in creating attractive, sustainable communities where low demand is being replace with good quality housing, public spaces, community facilities and job opportunities.

Mr Rooker said:

'I am extremely pleased that the pathfinder's chair's have produced this positive, useful report.

'Although the housing market renewal programme is not yet two years old, I am encouraged to see so many examples of the positive work that is already being done to transform neighbourhoods that have been struggling with the problems created by low housing demand.

'This is a positive start to what is a long-term programme, and much more remains to be done. I want the pathfinders to take forward these early successes and continue to work in partnership to deliver change.

'Our five year plan for housing, Homes for All, announced new allocation of£65m to tackle low demand in areas of the north outside the nine existing Pathfinders.

'I hope that this report will be of practical help to these new areas, as well as those already working to revitalise housing markets.'

The report outlines how the pathfinders are working closely with partners in the public and private sectors, and engaging with local communities by consulting widely.

Speaking on behalf of all the chairs, Michael Gahagan, chair of Transform South Yorkshire, the South Yorkshire Pathfinder, said:

'We have produced this report because we believe that the housing market renewal programme is an important on, and that we should make clear the work that is already being done to tackle the issues of housing market weakness in our areas.

'We believe that we are making excellent progress, working with a variety of partners from the public and private sectors.

'However we recognise and are ready for the challenges that lie ahead of us; we are at the start of a ten to fifteen year process and with this report we are acknowledging that we must sustain this level of commitment and effort if we are to achieve our aim of totally transforming weak housing markets in our areas.'

The chairs' report will be available on LGCnet.

Notes

1. Deputy prime minister John Prescott announced a£500m market renewal fund for investment in the market renewal pathfinders in February 2003 as part of his plan Sustainable Communities: Building for the Future. The pathfinders cover sub-regional areas in the North and Midlands where the problems of low-demand housing and abandonment are most acute.

2. The spending review 2004 announced a significant increasein the market renewal fund for the next three years. In 2007/08, the fund will be worth more than£450m.

3. As part of its five year strategy on housing, Homes for All, the ODPM announced£65m to tackle low demand in areas of the north outside the nine existing Pathfinder areas. This is a new allocation of funding for housing market renewal provided through the Spending Review 2004. For further information on Homes for All, log on to the ODPM website at www.odpm.gov.uk

4. The nine Housing Market Renewal Pathfinders are Birmingham Sandwell, Hull and East Riding, South Yorkshire, East Lancashire, Manchester and Salford, Merseyside, Newcastle and Gateshead, North Staffordshire, Oldham and Rochdale.

5. The bulk of the£500m-market renewal fund has been allocated in negotiation with each pathfinder on the basis of outputs and outcomes included in their strategic schemes, and is intended to fund work until 2006. The schemes will entail, over a 10-15 year timeframe, radical and sustained action to replace obsolete housing with modern sustainable accommodation, through demolition, refurbishment and new building. They will also ensure that other essential requirements of sustainable communities are addressed - such as good quality customer-focused services, good design, and delivering clean, safe, healthy and attractive environments in which people can take pride.

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