Jack Dromey attacks the ‘grotesquely mishandled’ planning policy reform
Planning first target for new housing minister
The new shadow housing minister has slammed the government’s handling of planning reform in his first week in the job.
Jack Dromey, who was appointed shadow housing minister on Monday as part of Labour leader Ed Miliband’s cabinet reshuffle, told Inside Housing ministers had ‘grotesquely mishandled the debate’ around the national planning policy framework, by not being clearer on the reforms and their environmental impact.
He said the government had ‘derided its critics’ over the document, which has provoked criticism from environmental groups.
‘We need a planning system fit for purpose which promotes growth and development while ensuring a real say for local people and the protection of our natural environment,’ he said.
‘The government must now get it right it because otherwise we face two to three years of chaos in the planning system.’
He also said that work on Labour’s housing policy review, which was started by Caroline Flint, would continue from next month into next year.
Mr Dromey is the eighth Labour MP to take on the housing brief opposite Grant Shapps.
The sector broadly welcomed his appointment given his housing background.
Hilary Benn, the newly appointed shadow communities secretary, also hit out at the government’s localism agenda, saying it only devolved responsibility for cuts, and not power.
Mr Benn replaced Ms Flint who has been made shadow energy and climate secretary taking over from Meg Hillier.
In his first attack on his opponent, Eric Pickles, Mr Benn said councils were bearing the brunt of decisions made by ‘a government which talks a lot about localism but in reality is only keen on devolving responsibility for cuts’. ‘We need strong councils’, he said.
‘But under this Tory-led government councils are facing big challenges. While councils are working hard to help to create jobs, provide more homes and support vulnerable people they are having to dealing with a government which has slashed their budgets.’
The Communities and Local Government team will also include Chris Williamson, Helen Jones and Roberta Blackman-Woods, plus, for the first time, a minister for care and older people, Liz Kendall.
Previous shadow housing minister Alison Seabeck left her post for a brief in the Ministry of Defence.
Former Labour housing minister John Healey resigned from the shadow cabinet ahead of the reshuffle
Jack Dromey’s appointment: what the sector thinks
“We look forward to working with Mr Dromey - and the government - to find solutions to the housing crisis and increase supply of desperately needed new homes.”
Gavin Smart, assistant director, National Housing Federation
“Jack Dromey’s involvement in welfare and housing issues has been very visible and he clearly has an appetite for tackling these issues.”
Abigail Davies, assistant director of policy and practice, the Chartered Institute of Housing
“We hope that the shadow minister for housing will bring forward measures to promote increased flexibility and innovation.”
Mark Henderson, chief executive, Home Group