£71m set aside to rebuild half empty streets

Grant Shapps, the Housing Minister, announced this week that £71m worth of funds would be allocated to help families that live on abandoned streets or half-empty streets as a result of the 2002 regeneration scheme.  The fund is aimed at helping to revamp the ‘ghost streets’ that are now spread out across the Midlands and in Northern England that is the result of the failed Housing Market Renewal Pathfinder programme that left behind many in neighbourhoods that were once heavily populated and now are only home to a few remaining citizens that were unable to move on.

Shapps announced that there will be 13 projects that will be focused on specifically considered to be the worst affected by the programme in the areas North Staffordshire, Merseyside, Hull, Teesside, and East Lancashire.  These areas will receive a direct cash contribution to help improve the remaining communities left behind.

Originally the hard hit areas were allowed to place a bid for a portion of the £30m fund that they were supposed to match, however, the minister announced that the Housing Ministry would contribute an additional £5.5 to each area to help make sure that every street with vacant properties would be improved.

For the moment central targets picked out by the ministers have been placed aside and the decision about how to actually stimulate regeneration is being left up to the local communities to decide for themselves.

The money will be offered to the included communities on a pound per pound matching agreement outside of the extra £5.5m that is being added to the total awarded to each community that is part of the new scheme.  As a result, Stock on Trent areas will receive a total of £7.2m, Liverpool areas will receive a total of £18.6m, Hull areas will receive £6.6m, Middlesbrough areas will receive £4m, and Hyndburn areas will receive £4.6m.

Outside of deciding not to demolish homes on their own, Coalition ministers will also be working with the communities to get empty houses occupied and put back to good use.  Shapps stated that the previous scheme sought to transform areas by simply destroying them and destroying neighbourhoods that would pit many families and neighbours against each other in a fight to save their own residences.  He continued to call this programme a lesson and a failure as it did more harm than good.

However, the families that now live in ghost towns and on ghost streets should not be punished for their misfortunate and the failed scheme according to Shapps which is why the government has decided to boost the amount they will contribute to help get these areas back on their feet.  He added that with the £71m that will be contributed the Housing Ministry hopes that residents and councils will be able to move past what has happened over the last few years and start to rebuild their areas to reach a higher potential with great benefits to all who live within them.