The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has stepped into the row over the government's controversial Pathfinder housing renewal schemes.
The organisation claims Britain's heritage is being 'rapidly lost' by botched renovation and unnecessary demolition - in particular the bulldozing of Victorian terraced housing across the north west of England.
RICS chiefs are among a growing number of voices calling for the 'accurate restoration' of many properties as an alternative to the proposed widespread destruction of some of the country's run-down housing stock.
A statement from the institute said: 'The misconception that it is cheaper to build a new house rather than refurbish an old one ignores the often huge differences in the quality of the structures, as many Victorian houses tend to be built to a higher specification than many modern houses.'
Stephen Boniface, the vice chairman of the RICS' building surveying faculty, is also worried about an 'increasing shortfall' in the specialist skills needed to carry out the kind of work. He said: 'One in five UK buildings are pre World War I and must be repaired and restored properly if their value is be retained.
'However, this is becoming increasingly difficult because of the growing gap in the number of specialist skilled craftspeople, which has widened dramatically with the decline of the traditional British apprenticeship.'by Richard Waite