Pathfinders secure government funds

Housing market renewal (HMR) pathfinders have welcomed a government commitment to invest around £1 billion in the programme over the next three years.

The announcement was made by junior regeneration minister Iain Wright at an HMR conference in Sheffield, days after chancellor Alistair Darling delivered his comprehensive spending review.

"This shows a real commitment from the government to an ongoing HMR programme. The pathfinders will continue to play their part in housing policy," Wright maintained.

Pathfinders had urged the government to continue funding amid fears that the programme was under threat (Planning, 5 October, p1).

Bridging NewcastleGateshead director Anne Mulroy welcomed the announcement as "great news" for both the HMR programme and her own area.

Each of the 12 pathfinders will submit business plans for 2008-11 to the government next month. On the strength of these, individual funding allocations will be decided and made known early next year.

A Renew North Staffordshire spokesman said: "The test for us lies in how much each pathfinder receives. We are hoping for in excess of £100 million."

NewHeartlands, based in Liverpool, Sefton and Wirral, is asking for £175 million. Gateway, Hull's pathfinder, is requesting £90 million.

Gateway managing director Pauline Davis said: "We will work with partners and local residents to ensure that we build on our success."

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