Thursday, 14 July 2016

Changing the guard at De-CLoG

Greg Clark, who has been Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government since May 2015 has moved to be the new Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

His replacement at De-CLoG is Sajid Javid, who was previously Business Secretary. So this is a straight jobs-swap between Clark and Javid.

We shan’t learn until tomorrow or Monday whether Brandon Lewis will stay as Housing and Planning Minister or whether he will also be moving to pastures new.

Theresa May has repeated twice in the past week that building more housing is a priority for her government, and so this will be the major policy objective on which De-CLoG will be expected to deliver. It remains to be seen whether there will be any dramatic new housing initiatives, or whether De-CLoG will simply redouble its previous efforts to promote housing in a variety of ways.

Clearly the residential conversion of offices, which has been facilitated by the permitted development rights included in the GPDO since 2013, will have a part to play in this, and it can be expected that De-CLoG will press on with their previously announced intention of extending Class O to enable the demolition and replacement of office buildings as permitted development (subject to an appropriately beefed-up prior approval process, for which the necessary statutory power was incorporated in the Housing and Planning Act).

Expect some bland announcement soon on all the wonderful things De-CLoG will be doing, but look out for further indications from Downing Street as to what our new PM expects the planning system to deliver.



  1. Bob Kindred MBE18 July 2016 at 09:31

    ...but at least with the departure of George Osbourne we might expect planning matters to return to DeCloG were they are supposed to know something about it and not be the prerogative of the Chancellor?

  2. I would like to think that Bob Kindred is right about this, but the tendency of the Treasury to poke their nose into the planning system is of long standing, and goes back well before George Osborne’s arrival as Chancellor. It was equally evident during the term of the previous Labour government.

    It would need a brave Secretary of State at De-CLoG to stand up to pressure from Downing Street (both No.10 and No.11). Theresa May is clearly intent on increasing house-building, and so we may well see further ‘initiatives’ by Cabinet Office and/or the Treasury which it will be the job of De-CLoG as, in effect, a ‘subservient’ department (which has never been held in particularly high regard in Whitehall) to put into practice.

  3. It's about time the government let people build individual houses in the countryside.
    House prices in the countryside will stay high and far out of reach from the working class salary.
    My local council waverley is so corrupt they have to ask members of the cpre weather they can approve an application.
    The countryside needs more houses that is the only way houses prices will come down.
    The only problem is that no goverment has the ball to stand up to campaigning groups.

  4. It is not just a question of the government not standing up to campaigning groups. It is long-standing government policy (which is fully supported by local planning authorities in their development plans) to resist development in the open countryside. The reasons for this are too obvious to require restatement here. There could perhaps be greater flexibility to allow affordable local needs housing, but this would require very strict safeguards to ensure that any such housing is only available, and remains available, to local people working in rural or community-based employment who need to live within reasonable reach of their place of work.

    If I have a quarrel with current policy, it is in relation to the excessive rigidity of policies governing development in the Green Belt, but even here I am only arguing for a slightly more flexible approach (similar to the approach that was taken to development in the Green Belt up to the early 1980s), and certainly not anything that would allow a free-for-all.

    'Standalone' is doomed to disappointment if he was hoping that the changes in the De-CLoG ministerial team might promise any change of direction.