Prince calls for restoration, not demolition across the north of England.

Prince Charles has called for plans to demolish 400,000 homes in the Midlands and the north of England, proposed by deputy prime minister John Prescott, to be abandoned in favour of large-scale restoration work.

The Prince of Wales told the Institute of Chartered Accountants last night that: "old, historic, characterful buildings are knocked down, even though in the longer term it would cost far less in financial, social and environmental terms to refurbish and convert them."

Prescott’s scheme involves the demolition of 400,000 mainly terraced houses to make way for thousands of new homes. Although Clarence House has stressed that the Prince is simply reiterating his long-held beliefs about architecture, some newspapers were quick to call his speech an attack on the government. The Sun described it as “his sharpest [attack] since criticism of the treatment of farmers in 2002”, while The Times said it amounted to the biggest criticism of the government in several years.