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Architecture minister John Penrose steps down

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Architecture minister John Penrose has stepped down from his role at the Department for Culture, Media & Sports after two years in the role

The Conservative MP for Weston-super-Mare, whose remit included heritage and tourism, is understood to have left the job because of a proposed reduction in the size of the department.

Among the favourites to replace the outgoing minister is Ed Vaizey who briefly held the position for four days in May 2010 before Penrose took over. The architecture role could be part of a larger portfolio - as it was when Sport Minister Tony Banks held it in the late 1990s.

He told ITN: ‘I’m very proud of the work I did as part the DCMS team, boosting the tourism industry, cutting red tape and helping with a highly successful Olympic Games as well.

‘The good news is, now I’ll be able to fight even harder for our area. I’m looking forward to it hugely.’

Earlier this summer Penrose controversially rejected a bid to list the Archigram-designed 1968 Southbank Arts Complex in London and also ruled out statutory protection for phase I of Benson and Forsyth’s 1970s Maiden Lane housing estate in Camden.

However in 2010 he did agree to list the Milton Keynes shopping centre and upheld the listing of two other contrentious post-war buildings - 1957 local authority-designed Coventry Market and the Castle House Co-Operative department store in Sheffield, built in 1964.

The Milton Keynes decision, which followed eight years of wrangles about whether the half a mile-long mall should be listed, was hailed as a marked departure from his predecessors’ stance on late Twentieth Century design (see AJ 16.07.2010).

Previous incumbent Margaret Hodge refused to list post-war buildings on at least four separate occasions, including going against English Heritage’s (EH) advice by refusing statutory protection for BDP’s Preston bus station and John Madin’s Birmingham library. .

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