THE need for the demolition of thousands of Victorian homes in Merseyside will again be called into question this week - after one home tripled in value following a renovation.
A TV production company decided to scrutinise the plans to bulldoze 20,000 homes as part of the Newheartlands housing renewal project.
In a bid to prove restoration is better than demolition, the team took one house in Liverpool earmarked for demolition and refurbished it for £18,000.
That is roughly the price of tearing it down and less than a third of the price of constructing a new one.
The house is in the Dingle where 450 houses, including one of Ringo Starr's childhood homes, look set to be wiped off the map.
The Government Pathfinder programme plans to level rows of terraced houses in towns and cities across northern England in a rolling programme reminiscent of the 1960s slum clearances.
Urban renewal is Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott's vision for improving blighted communities but will cost the public purse billions.
Grant Cunningham, a spokesman for the documentary makers from the Tonight with Trevor McDonald show, said the programme investigated whether it would be cheaper and more environmentally friendly to restore them instead.
Crews were filming at the property on Powis Street, which lies off High Park Street in the area known as the Welsh Streets, last weekend.
The house was opened up for viewings by first-time buyers.
There were no signs of the prolific damp problem, crumbling windows and a collapsed wall which dogged the building just a few weeks earlier.
The owner of the property highlighted in the programme, Avelina Radway, 61, from Halewood, said: "There's a lot of memories for me in this house. To see it looking like this feels as though I'm in a dream.
It's like a phoenix rising from the ashes."
Mrs Radway was born in the front room of the house in 1943 but hasn't lived there since she was a young woman.
As part of the show, James Kersh, from Sutton Kersh Estate Agents, valued the property.
He said: "When it was a shell, the house would have been worth only about £15,000-£20,000 but now I think you'll probably get £60,000-£65,000 for it.
"If the rest of the street followed suit, we're talking £80,000-£85,000 upwards."
Plans for the demolitions and the 18,000 new homes which will be built in their place, are still in the consultation stage and a final decision on details is expected in the summer.
Peter Flynn, spokesman for the Newheartlands Project, said: "We cannot comment on the programme itself because we have not seen it.
"But it is not a question of choosing between restoration or demolition. As part of the neighbourhood renewal project we are carrying out a mixture of renovations and demolitions. We are using all the solutions open to us."
THE programme will be shown tonight on ITV at 8pm.