The construction industry is waiting with bated breath to see if Stuart Andrew – the eleventh new housing minister in 12 years – will embrace SMEs as a vital tool for building more homes.
Deputy chief whip Stuart Andrew, who grew up on a North Wales council estate, assumed the role yesterday in the prime minister’s mini-reshuffle as part of the clear out of the whip’s office.
The National Federation of Builders chief executive Richard Beresford said: “He has a tough job on his hands, as we desperately need an engaged housing minister who understands the planning systems impact on levelling up, SME builders and the broader housing crisis.”
Mr Andrew and levelling up and housing secretary, Michael Gove, face the challenge of reworking controversial plans to shake-up the planning system to enable 300,000 new homes to be built a year.
Mr Gove has said he would ditch proposals for a zonal system denying residents the right to object to new buildings in areas marked for development.
New minister backs the green belt
Housing delivery targets released in January showed nearly a third of local councils had failed to build enough homes with many of these authorities in areas with large swathes of green belt.
However, Mr Andrew who is MP for Pudsey, Horsforth and Aireborough in East Yorkshire has campaigned to save the greenbelt opposing plans for major housing developments and roads in his area.
The Federation of Master Builders chief executive Brian Berry said Mr Andrew’s appointment came at a crucial time for the industry.
“I look forward to working constructively with the new minister to deliver a much-needed boost for small, local housebuilders.
“This will not only help plug the gap in housing stock but will also play a vital role in levelling up the country, as who better to enable this than small, community-centric builders.”
The Royal Institute of British Architects said it was important Mr Andrew got to grips quickly with the housing crisis.
“With the government highlighting the importance of improved housing in its levelling-up agenda, it must now work to secure consistent and effective leadership in this area,” said president Simon Allford.
Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said commercial development finance lenders were hoping the new minister would help make planning more efficient and easier for SME developers.