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Television show to smash demolition myth

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A television documentary to be aired next week will blow the lid on plans to demolish swathes of housing across northern England, the AJ can reveal.

An investigation by ITV's Tonight Special programme has proved it is just as cheap to completely renovate homes earmarked for demolition as it is to knock them down.

The findings fly in the face of controversial government proposals to flatten more than 200,000 'uninhabitable' Victorian terraces as part of the multi-billion pound Pathfinder housing strategy.

Hosted by Trevor MacDonald, the show sets out to see whether an abandoned house in Liverpool - targeted for demolition along with 20,000 homes in the city - could be made inhabitable again for £18,000.

According to their research, the cost of the project would be roughly the same as pulling it down, and less than a third of the cost of building a new one.

And, although renovation work will continue until Sunday, it is understood the ITV team believes it has been successful in its challenge.

A spokesman said: 'We have demonstrated a house can be refurbished to an acceptable standard for an amount resembling the price of demolishing it.

'The programme reflects a growing concern about the wisdom of the proposals for cities in the North of England.'

The government's House Market Renewal Initiative has courted controversy ever since its introduction in 2003 by deputy prime minister John Prescott. Recent plans to level most of Nelson in Lancashire caused one of the biggest public uproars of recent years.

Adam Wilkinson from SAVE Britain's Heritage, who was interviewed for the show, believes the current proposals pose a massive threat to the historic environment. 'Whole neighbourhoods are going. These are well-built buildings, some of which are being condemned just on a brief, visual inspection,' he said.

'Some communities are not particularly good at articulating their opposition and we are keen to help. These poor communities are just going to be thrown out.'

The two-part programme will be shown on Monday 16 May and Friday 20 May.

by Richard Waite

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