MP attacks housing pathfinder policies

Policies to help Merseyside's housing market renewal (HMR) pathfinder programme are preventing homes from being built in Southport, a local MP has claimed.

John Pugh argued that planning limits imposed on house building in the area to help the New Heartlands pathfinder programme are actually creating affordable housing problems.

The pathfinder covers the south of the borough of Sefton while Southport is in the north. Pugh told Planning: "We need houses and have the infrastructure to build them but we are not being allowed to do so."

He was speaking after a Commons public accounts committee meeting to consider a National Audit Office report on the performance of the HMR programme, published earlier this month (Planning, 9 November, p1).

Pugh said: "We need to look at how we measure the effects of pathfinders and at what they have done for housing right across local areas as well as in neighbouring authorities."

New Heartlands director Alan Lunt replied: "We are reviewing the planning policy that limits development outside the HMR and central Southport area unless there is a proven regeneration benefit that includes provision of affordable housing."

Committee members asked how removing 10,000 homes and building just 1,100 could be a success. DCLG housing and planning director-general Richard McCarthy said in some cases it is best to demolish properties and replace them with better designed homes.

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