Friday, 1 November 2013

Uncle Eric stays put

As I mentioned in a post a few weeks ago, there’s rather a lot of catching up to do after a very eventful month in the planning world. The government reshuffle on 7 October left Eric Pickles in place for the foreseeable future as De-CLoG’s Secretary of State. Planning minister Nick Boles also remains in post, and so the two key figures on the planning front are still in charge.

Most of the other changes among the ministerial team at De-CLoG don’t impact directly on planning, but among new junior ministers who also have some involvement in town planning in its wider sense there are (in no particular order) Kris Hopkins, who is the housing minister and has also been given specific responsibility for planning policy and casework relating to wind farms, Stephen Williams, who will cover (among other things) localism, decentralisation and community rights, building regulations and standards, empty homes, climate change and sustainable development, and Brandon Lewis, whose remit includes high streets, town centres and markets, travellers and community assets (such as pubs).

Although no further primary legislation on planning seems to be in the pipeline, De-CLoG still has an ambitious programme of ‘deregulation’, the nature and effect of which may prove to be a bit patchy. Some of the changes that have recently been introduced (in a slough of statutory instruments that came into force on 1 October) or are in the offing will be welcome, but others may cause difficulties for users of the planning system that might best have been avoided. I really must find time to get my head round these changes and get properly to grips with them, not least the recent changes to appeal procedures. I’ll blog on all these topics when I get the chance.


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