A GROUNDBREAKING £100m housing renewal initiative, which has transformed Tranmere and Rock Ferry, could soon be switching to Birkenhead and Wallasey.

Since 2003 a combination of demolition of run-down properties, extensive new building, refurbishment, environmental improvements and community-based projects has given residents new pride in their neighbourhood.

Barbara Keenan, who now lives in a new three-bedroomed house on the renamed Sevenoaks estate in Rock Ferry, said: "Sometimes it was hard to see light at the end of the tunnel. But now here we are in our lovely new houses in what is now a fantastic new neighbourhood for us with great prospects for the future. It all seems worthwhile."

Around a thousand run-down properties have been cleared to make way for modern housing. They include 400 new properties with a further 400 in the pipeline.

Cllr George Davies, a board member of the Merseyside NewHeartlands scheme, said: "It sets the benchmark for what we hope to achieve as we move our focus to Birkenhead and Wallasey.

"Now we need sustained and continued public and private sector investment to enable us to continue to make this vision a reality.

Cllr Davies went on: "To achieve what we have achieved in Rock Ferry and Tranmere, especially during a recession, is stagggering.

"Investment in these areas over the last 10 years has created a much more sustainable community that has helped local schools, health providers and businesses."

Wirral's Housing Renewal Initiative manager, Chris Bowen, said: "In the late 1990s Wirral Council took a bold decision to prioritise housing investment in Tranmere and Rock Ferry. It takes a long time to change neighbourhoods - but in those areas we are now starting to see some very exciting results.

"There are 20 new housing schemes in Rock Ferry and Tranmere alone. The whole place is starting to see the rewards, not only in terms of housing, but in the way the community looks and feels.

"There have been huge benefits to the local economy and housing investment has been made in tandem with retail and commercial development.

"Projects such as neighbourhood wardens, handymen and informative sessions over the design and progress of developemnt, help to minimise the negative impact of clearance and building works on people's lives."

Rachel Leckey, who lives in a new bungalow, said: "When I think of the way it was before the changes - with poor-qualtiy housing in an unsafe environment - the contrast is fantastic.

"The community that has stayed is now proud of what we have achieved and we are determined to ensure the neighbourhood conrtinues to improve as new residents join us."

Mike Turner, from private house builder Lovell that has worked on projects in the area, said the company was confident they would continue to invest there.

Chris Bowen added: "We have started to tackle some of the more serious problems in Birkenhead and Wallasey and, with continued investment, we hope to transform those areas for the better in the same way as we have seen in Rock Ferry and Tranmere."