Lobby reveals threat to isolated housing effort

The government's flagship housing regeneration programme is in danger of operating in isolation from wider planning and economic strategies, campaigners have warned.

A Town and Country Planning Association (TCPA) policy statement to be published later this month claims that the housing market renewal initiative has not yet been considered in a broader planning and economic context both locally and regionally.

Nine pathfinders are pioneering the initiative in an attempt to breathe life into areas of housing market collapse in the north and the Midlands.

Although broadly endorsing the initiative, the TCPA statement claims that the pathfinders will fail to achieve their aims of ensuring the long-term sustainability of declining communities unless they establish a firm economic bedrock in renewal areas.

To do so, the TCPA said that the pathfinders must forge closer links between their own plans and those of bodies such as the regional development agencies. Director Gideon Amos added: "We are concerned that there is not enough linkage between economic and employment growth and housing policy, particularly in renewal areas."

Mark Glynn, strategy and programme manager at the Oldham and Rochdale pathfinder, contested the TCPA's claims. "We are already working within regional and economic plans," he said.

"We are developing an approach that is responsive to the future economic needs of the two towns by creating a housing offer that will encourage people entering the job market to stay in Oldham and Rochdale."

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