In what was a turbulent last week, Rishi Sunak carried out a cabinet reshuffle, sacking Home Secretary, Suella Braverman, and boldly returning David Cameron to frontline politics.
Less high-profile changes were made alongside as Rachel Maclean MP was asked to resign as Minister for Housing and Lee Rowley MP was appointed in her place, making him both the 16th and 13th MP to hold that position since 2010, having held the position for just over a month last year.
There has been surprise at Maclean’s resignation as many saw her as competent and uncontroversial. It is believed though that she was seen by Sunak as too right wing for his new more ‘centre right’ government and, while she had been competent, nothing substantial had been achieved by her.
Her replacement has been MP for North East Derbyshire since 2017. Seen as an up-and-comer in the party, Lee is regarded as having better media presence than Rachel which will be important when planning and housing becomes the election battleground it is expected to be.
In Lee’s previous position in the Department, he approved housing on the Green Belt where he believed there was persistent under-delivery. He is an opponent of centralised housing targets, having proposed regional housing targets, opposed Green Belt developments in his constituency, and has criticised the quantity of Green Belt sites allocated for development across the country.
Lee will now have the tricky job of bringing forward the proposed tracked changes to the NPPF while also readying to defend the Government’s housebuilding record. In the past, he has characterised planning as a ‘difficult and challenging area of policy at the best of times’ and, in the coming year, that statement will be sure to still ring true.