MPs' accounts committee says it is unclear what benefits government's housing regeneration initiative has brought

MPs have criticised the government's pathfinder housing regeneration initiative for demolishing more homes than it builds.

The initiative was set up in 2002 to tackle locally concentrated dilapidation in depressed areas of England. Local pathfinder schemes have since invested more than £2bn in either renovation or demolition followed by rebuilding.

However, a report from the Public Accounts Committee of the House of Commons objects that while 40,000 properties have been refurbished through the schemes, only 1,000 new homes have been built to replace the 10,000 demolished.

Demolition under way
Demolition has been one of pathfinders' strengths

The report also claims that the initiative threatens the historical character of some local areas, with houses sometimes being demolished against the wishes of local people, and that waiting lists for affordable homes have doubled in some areas.

The committee said that it is difficult to determine whether improvements in housing demand in pathfinder areas are attributable to the initiative itself or simply to the normal operation of the market.

However, the government insists the scheme has been helpful and points to the high level of renovations achieved.

Areas in which pathfinder projects were set up include Birmingham, Manchester, Merseyside, Newcastle and Gateshead, and Oldham and Rochdale.