Local BBC Sites

Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Wednesday, 9 March 2011
Funding cut for unfinished regeneration project, Renew
Derelict factory
Many areas of land earmarked for re-development face stagnation

Funding for north Staffordshire's main regeneration project is to be substantially reduced, even though it has yet to achieve four-fifths of its original plans.

Funding from the government's 'Pathfinder' scheme is being cut.

Renew North Staffordshire was set up in 2003 to overhaul some of the region's more run-down neighbourhoods.

A former mayor of Stoke-on-Trent, Mike Wolfe, dubbed Renew "one of the city's biggest ever disappointments".

A spokesman for Renew responded that its work had led to thousands of properties being built, with thousands more refurbished.

Renew

Renew North Staffordshire was set up after the then Labour government had designated North Staffordshire as one of nine 'housing market renewal pathfinders'. Its purpose is to make inner-city land available to housing developers.

Renew areas

North SoT: Middleport, Burslem, Coalville, Galley's Bank, Fegg Hayes

Mid SoT: Hanley, Northwood

Moorlands: Biddulph

Newcastle Boro: Knutton, Cross Heath/Milehouse

In its original prospectus, Renew, which is administered by Stoke-on-Trent City Council, claimed that before 2022 it hoped to see the demolition of 14,500 properties, the building of 12,500 new homes, and refurbishment of 36,0000.

The BBC has discovered that, so far, Renew's involvement has led to 1,700 properties pulled down; 4,000-plus new homes built; and 7,000 refurbished.

Renew also had hoped originally to raise £2.3bn from both public and private investors - but one-third of the way into the project, it has found only 8% of that figure.

Renew has pointed out that its figures were premised on a schedule lasting twenty years. It has also had to down-size the figures in recent years, especially since as the recession took hold.

Disappointment

A former Stoke-on-Trent politician, Mike Wolfe, who is now a consultant in regeneration, said he thought, even without the government funding cut, the results were a huge disappointment.

Though he backed it when he was the city's leader, he said that Renew had not lived up to its promises.

He blamed the people running Renew: "They simply had no sense of urgency, no sense of the commercial realities of life".

Mike Herbert, Regional Director of the property developer Saint Modwen, agreed, adding that that there had been too much demolition in the area - putting off developers like him.

Future

Commenting on the figures, Stoke-on-Trent City Council said that Renew is still very likely to receive government money that has already been committed to the scheme.

It admitted that, where homes have been emptied but not demolished, or where the land has not yet been prepared, extra public money would be required to finish developments.

It says the priority, even with reduced funding, is to finish the projects already started, as in City Waterside in Hanley, Fegg Hayes and Meir.

Other programmes already started, where the ground has not been prepared, as in Middleport and Lower Milehouse in Newcastle, will happen more slowly because of the present round of spending cuts.

Pathfinder

The Department for Communities & Local Government said, explaining its decision to end the Pathfinder scheme, that, in certain parts of the country, schemes like Renew had "proved highly unpopular as Whitehall imposed top-down targets on the demolition of homes". It said that new incentive schemes, such as New Homes Bonus, will be installed in its stead.




OTHER RELATED BBC LINKS


BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific