John Prescott?s plans to demolish up to 400,000 homes in the Midlands and North East were strongly criticised last night by Prince Charles.

In a speech to the Institute of Chartered Accountants which was largely about sustainability and the environment, he was critical of policies which gave very little long term reward.

Prince Charles specifically mentioned the demolition of old buildings of merit, saying: ?Old, historic, characterful buildings are knocked down, even though in the longer term it would cost far less in financial, social and environmental terms to refurbish and convert them to other uses, such as residential and mixed use.?

Although Clarence House has sought to make clear there was no intention to criticise John Prescott?s plans to demolish a large amount of Victorian houses in the midlands and north east of England, many commentators have taken it as just that.

Councillors in the area have had the same concerns, and have asked Mr Prescott to reconsider the number of houses marked for demolition, but the yesterday Deputy Prime Minister remained bullish.

In an interview with ITV he responded to questions about ex-Beatle Ringo Starr?s concern for the home where he was born in Liverpool, saying ?I notice he?s not living in the house, and he?s not living in Liverpool. We have to meet the needs of Liverpool?s people today, not people living in London.?