Planning and Housing reunited in Government reshuffle
This week’s government reshuffle has seen Brandon Lewis, previously undersecretary of state in the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), promoted to Housing and Planning Minister. The move follows Nick Boles’ promotion to minister for Department for Education and Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
This is the first time in five years, and the first time since the formation of the coalition government, that the housing and planning portfolios have been covered by the same minister. The decision perhaps reflects an acknowledgment of the importance of addressing the acute housing need currently being experienced across the country with a more consolidated approach. The slow rate of house building is often blamed on the planning process, but this change provides an opportunity for better, more effective policies through the consideration of housing and planning policies in tandem.
As well as a promotion for Lewis being celebrated, we can also celebrate a promotion for the housing portfolio. This has been moved to the same level as planning, recognising the importance of this brief to the future of our society and its links to the planning brief also.
Penny Mordaunt, MP for Portsmouth North and former contestant on TV diving programme Splash!, has also been promoted in the reshuffle to under-secretary of state within the DCLG. Her role will be as a junior minister for planning under Lewis.
Although Nick Boles’ efforts to face down the “hysterical, scaremongering, latter-day Luddites” will be sadly missed, another NJL favourite, Eric Pickles, retains his role as Secretary of State within DCLG.
Whether the changes actually bring about a more responsive approach to planning and housing and result in the introduction of planning policies which will assist in increasing the rate of house building remains to be seen, but surely, at this stage, we can only be hopeful and full of optimism for the new Planning and Housing Minister.
Do you think the changes will make a positive difference? Or will the loss of Nick Boles see more pandering to the anti-development lobby? Leave your comments below.
Image courtesy of Todd Klassy on Flickr.