Wednesday, 16 July 2014
The new planning minister
I am grateful to Charles Mynors (see comments appended to yesterday’s post) for alerting me to the fact that Brandon Lewis has taken over as planning minister in place of Nick Boles, also adding housing to his brief. He has been promoted within De-CLoG from Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to Minister of State. His previous role within De-CLoG (since October last year) was as minister responsible for local government, fire and resilience, high streets, town centres and markets, travellers, and community pubs, having originally joined De-CLoG in September 2012. He is MP for Great Yarmouth, and has been in the Commons since 2010.
Lewis is a barrister, and served as a councillor on Brentwood Borough Council for more than 10 years, including 5 years as Leader, so he ought (one hopes) to have some idea of how the planning system works. He and Pickles go back some years together as local politicians in Essex, so this should help them to build a good working relationship.
I have been unable to ascertain any details of Brandon Lewis’s career at the bar, and am not clear whether he actively practised at the bar (and, if so, in what specialisation, if any) before his ministerial appointment in 2012.
Whether Pickles and Lewis (“the Eric & Brandon Show”) will continue the programme of ‘liberalisation’ through further extensions of permitted development remains to be seen, but further PD rights have been promised, so we should perhaps expect some further changes. One gets the impression, however, that the government generally is now changing over to pre-election mode, and that apart from tying up a few loose ends, they are not expecting to embark on any bold new initiatives.
Meanwhile, Penny Mordaunt, the latest recruit to De-CLoG, has been put in charge of the teaspoons (oh, and also coastal communities).
© MARTIN H GOODALL