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Mark Hines and SAVE propose alternative to Pathfinder

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London-based Mark Hines Architects and SAVE Britain’s Heritage have drawn up rival proposals for an area in east Manchester earmarked for wide-scale demolition under the controversial Pathfinder programme.

Under the current plans drawn up by PRP Architects for the Toxteth Street neighbourhood in Openshaw more than 400 houses, including Victorian terraces, will be flattened.

A public inquiry in September will decided whether the compulsory purchase of the homes – a key part of the Housing Market Renewal Initiative (HMRI) in the area – will be allowed.

However SAVE claims its rival designs have the support of local residents and offer a viable alternative to demolition as well as ‘a fresh approach to rehabilitating terraced housing’.

William Palin, secretary of SAVE, said its proposals ‘expose the insanity of the demolition plans'.

He added: ‘Judged on community benefits, environmental impact and cost, rehabilitation and refurbishment is clearly the way forward.

'It is less destructive, helps preserve the existing community, saves money and offers revitalisation without losing the enduring qualities of these characterful and much-loved terraced streets.’

The move comes only days after CABE launched its own Pathfinder action plan in a bid to refocus efforts on increasing design quality.

Describing the new HMRI guidance, a CABE spokesman said: ‘[This document] proposes a shift in the agenda away from housing, and towards a broad-based, design-led regeneration programme, with placemaking at its heart.'

He added: ‘The market downturn means that design quality now matters more than ever. Housing needs to be innovative if it is going to sell in places where demand is low.

'Innovation does not mean green gadgetry, but quality of place, and finding the best ways to preserve heritage.’

Neither PRP Architects or the urban regeneration company New East Manchester were available for comment.

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