WHEN Labour was elected in 1997, East Lancashire MPs launched a campaign for a major programme of renewal for rundown housing stock .

In 2003, Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott announced a 15-year ‘Pathfinder’ scheme to upgrade hundreds of thousands of homes across the North of England with government cash.

East Lancashire was promised more than £500million to tackle tens of thousands of empty and rundown properties, including 21,000 homes deemed unfit for human habitation by official standards.

At its height in 2008, Blackburn with Darwen got £12.6million, Burnley £14.4million, Hyndburn £8.6million, Pendle £10.6million, and Rossendale £2.6million, to refurbish homes, clear poor housing, and build new properties.

Even then, community and heritage groups were complaining about demolishing viable Victorian terraces. The credit crunch and house price crash left Elevate knocking down more homes than it built. In 2010, the coalition government axed Elevate years early after spending £317million, leaving some schemes half-built, and many scrapped before they started.

Hyndburn and Pendle were hardest hit, and the sums available for new build and refurbishment plummeted, with their allocations dropping to £5,320 and £179,420 respectively in 2012.