The department argued that the presence of pathfinder areas will be taken into account during the bidding process for new growth points and both processes will work in tandem.
A National Audit Office report on market renewal issued last week says migration from pathfinder areas could take place if large volumes of homes are built there (Planning, 2 November, p1). It adds that pathfinders' contribution to resolving the problem of low housing demand remains unclear.
Following the report's publication the Conservative Party's local government and regeneration spokesman Alistair Burt called for the programme to be scrapped and a recent £1 billion award to pathfinders to be recalled. Burt told Planning: "The evidence is that for a large amount of money this is a blunt instrument that may not be achieving its aims."
But Merseyside pathfinder NewHeartlands said the report recognises that thousands of homes have already been refurbished or built and most residents that it affects support the scheme.
National Housing Federation chief executive David Orr said: "To try to judge success four years into a 15-year programme is wrong-headed." The DCLG has committed £2.2 billion to the pathfinders until 2011.
Housing Market Renewal is available at PlanningResource.co.uk/doc.