Brandon Lewis has been given the ‘architecture policy’ brief in the new Conservative government but will not have responsibility for listing historic buildings, AJ has learned
Lewis, a barrister by profession, served as housing and planning minister in the final year of the Coalition government, retaining the role in prime minister David Cameron’s post-election reshuffle.
Ministerial oversight for architecture passed to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DSMS) in March. However DCMS confirmed it had kept hold of the listing of historic buildings.
Worryingly ‘architecture’ is not listed among Lewis’ core responsibilities on the DCLG website, dampening expectations of a more powerful voice for the built environment following its ‘promotion’ within government.
Instead the description of his role highlights: ‘housing (including Ebbsfleet)’; ‘planning policy’; ‘neighbourhood planning’; ‘lead minister on the Housing Bill’; and ‘planning casework’.
Even so Max Farrell, project leader for last year’s Farrell Review of Architecture and the Built Environment, said placing architecture with housing and planning responsibilities was a step in the right direction.
‘The Farrell Review called for a better integration between planning, design and placemaking and this announcement will do much to ensure that design is aligned more closely with the development of housing and planning policy,’ he said.
‘We look forward to working with the new minister to ensure the government adopts a truly joined-up approach to the role architecture can play in creating great places to live, work and play in.’
Farrell also paid tribute to culture minister Ed Vaizey, who held the architecture brief at DCMS in the Coalition government.
‘Ed Vaizey has done an enormous amount to promote the importance of architecture over the past five years and we are grateful for all his efforts.’
RIBA president Stephen Hodder
I would like to congratulate Brandon Lewis on retaining his role with the Department for Communities & Local Government as Minister of State for Housing and Planning.
The RIBA welcomes the decision taken in the last parliament to transfer the architecture brief from the DCMS to the DCLG and the integration that it brings to Brandon’s portfolio. This unified approach gives us an opportunity to ensure that high quality design and long term planning are at the heart of policymaking for the built environment. The proposed Housing and Devolution Bill, set to feature in the Queen’s Speech next week, is the perfect opportunity for the government to demonstrate this.
We look forward to continue working with Brandon and the department to promote the value of architecture.