The first PFI housing regeneration projects are set to get under way after months of delay.
Teams led by contractors Gleeson, Carillion, Bramall and Mowlem submitted bids this week for £90m of refurbishment and new build at two estates in Manchester.

The scheme, for 1200 houses at Plymouth Grove and Stockport Road, is likely to be the first of the eight DTLR-sponsored Pathfinder projects. Work will not begin on site until next April at the earliest, a year after the original start date.

The delays have led to fierce criticism, including accusations of a lack of resourcing from the former DETR.

But Paul Bradshaw, who is handling a £20m Pathfinder for North-east Derbyshire council, said a cautious approach had been necessary.

He added: "The delays occurred because we were embarking on something that had never been done before – it has slowly evolved.

"There was no protocol, no guidelines for applying PFI to council housing.

"Now that everything is in place, the next two rounds of Pathfinder projects are going to be a waltz."

Now everything is in place, the next two rounds will be a waltz

Paul Bradshaw, North-east Derbyshire council

Bradshaw warned, however, that more lessons would have to be learned in negotiations with bidders.

The London Borough of Islington and North-east Derbyshire councils have invited tenders for their Pathfinder schemes, with submission deadlines next month and in October.

Newham's £40m housing scheme in Canning Town, east London, is still struggling with delays.

Billy Lopez, a Newham official, said a preferred bidder would not be named until December, with work on site starting next August.

The Newham shortlist is made up of consortiums led by Hyde Housing Association, Paddington Housing Association and social housing specialist Laing Partnership Housing. They are working up comments on the council's proposed invitation to negotiate. The DTLR is also in the process of passing over its comments to Newham. The completed documentation is expected to be issued next month.