Regeneration and Renewal

First for regeneration

Evaluation Lessons - Local success; regional challenges

Friday, 23 March 2007


Project: Housing Market Renewal (HMR) Pathfinder Programme

Period of evaluation: 2001-2005

Evaluating organisations: A consortium of academic institutions led by Ecotec Ltd.

Evaluation commissioned by: The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

Aims and outline of project: The HMR Pathfinder Programme commenced in 2002 when 25 local authorities in nine areas were invited by the DCLG to produce strategies to renew their stagnant housing markets, drawing on a new £25 million HMR start-up fund. The pathfinders were established as independent bodies to implement the strategies. Funding for the programme was boosted in 2003 by a further £500 million for the period to March 2006.


Adam Fineberg writes: From the outset, a key feature of the HMR Programme was the high degree of responsibility devolved to the pathfinders for the development of their strategies and implementation of their programmes.

This approach reflects the differing circumstances and needs of each area, and represents a recognition that people with local knowledge should determine solutions.

Overall local assessments of housing markets, and of related indicators such as population change, paint the most positive picture of the pathfinder areas in years. There are signs of a reduction in rates of population change and, in some areas, indicators of modest inward migration. Economic indicators are also increasingly positive. House prices have risen, vacancies have fallen, and the demand for social housing has increased.

However, it is not possible at this early stage to attribute these developments directly to the HMR programme.

A key challenge that the authors have identified has been how to ensure the active involvement of key stakeholders. This is especially true in the case of other agencies responsible for preparing and implementing other key regional or sub-regional strategies, such as Regional Housing, Spatial and Economic Strategies. While the report mentions that the pathfinders have developed close relationships with the constituent local authorities, it also says that they would benefit from a greater recognition of the synergies between the Pathfinder Programme and wider regeneration and infrastructure activities.

- Adam Fineberg is an independent policy and regeneration consultant and an associate consultant to the Improvement and Development Agency.

- National Evaluation of the Housing Market Renewal (HMR) Pathfinder Programme is available via

- Contact us. Do you know of an evaluation report with important lessons for other regeneration professionals? If so, contact Adam Branson on

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