Rows and rows of terraced housing in the north of England that is currently earmarked for demolition under the previous Government’s Housing Market Renewal (Pathfinder) Initiative, should and can be saved, says a new report.

The report, commissioned by SAVE Britain’s Heritage, presents a bold new vision for healing and reviving the communities across the north of England left shattered by house clearances. To date the government’s Pathfinder programme has cost over £2.2 billion and has resulted in the demolition of at least 16,000 houses – four times as many as have been built as replacements, believes SAVE.

Architectural practice Mark Hines Architects has looked at how terraced housing, earmarked for demolition, can be adapted, upgraded and remodelled to a high standard of energy efficiency, creating a range of accommodation and forming exemplar ‘eco-communities’ of the future. SAVE’s collaboration with Mark Hines began in 2008 during a campaign to prevent the demolition of 500 Victorian houses in east Manchester. This work forms the core of this report, but the study also looks at how existing terraces can be linked together on communal heat and power networks supplied by green energy to form genuinely sustainable ‘eco-communities’ of the future.

Marcus Binney, SAVE’s President, says: ‘This report is dedicated to one of the most distressing, indeed shocking, sights you will see in English cities today. It is the sight of street after street of simple terraced houses boarded up and awaiting demolition. Many of these houses were people’s lifelong homes, others were bought up by enterprising young people as their first step on the housing ladder.

‘Pathfinder programmes are among the most destructive and disgraceful official policies of recent years, callously pursued by both central and local government. They have caused appalling anxiety and actual misery to the people evicted from their homes. And this is the more galling when people see the sites of their homes left vacant.’

William Palin, SAVE’s Secretary, adds: ‘Pathfinder demolitions have ripped the heart out of communities and resulted in the shameful waste of good housing stock. Now there is an opportunity to heal some of wounds by abandoning clearances in favour of refurbishment. As Pathfinder dies a slow death, this report shows the way forward.’

Mark Hines, author of the report, says ‘The recycling of houses is environmentally friendly and allows us to provide homes quickly and economically. To prove this, we have produced a number of houses types that would appeal to modern lifestyles – from one bed double height live work units, to 4 bed family houses. We found that the houses could be upgraded to meet code for sustainable homes level 4 or 5, and could potentially reduce carbon emissions by over 70%.’