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Housing minister loses seat to put policies in doubt

Housing minister loses seat to put policy in doubt
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Housing minister Gavin Barwell has lost his Croydon Central seat amid a disappointing night for the Conservative Party.

Barwell was defeated by Labour candidate Sarah Jones, who overturned a slim Tory majority of just 165.

Jones won 29,873 votes to Mr Barwell’s 24,221, a margin of 9.9 per cent on a 3.6 per cent swing from the Tories to Labour.

It is the first time Croydon Central has been controlled by Labour since 2005, reports the AJ’s sister title Construction News.

The result means anyone appointed to the role as part of the new government will be the sixth person to hold the post of housing minister in just seven years.

The uncertain result throws into doubt the government’s plans to implement its February housing white paper, which pledged more support for SME housebuilders and promised to give local authorities more powers to make quicker use of planning consents.

It also included plans to speed up housebuilding through planning changes and increasing the number of build-to-rent houses being built.

Greg Hill, deputy chief executive at housebuilder Hill Residential, said: ’No business likes uncertainty and housebuilders like it least of all.

’This hung parliament and the horse-trading that will take place over housing policy to get a coalition in place means that many housebuilders will hit the pause button on their investment decisions.

’The country needs new homes desperately. We hope that the negotiations [over a hung parliament] are concluded rapidly so that the new government is in place and ready to work with the sector to go out and get building.’

Housing ministers

There have been five housing ministers since 2011, all from the Conservative Party, with a sixth set to take office now that Gavin Barwell is no longer an MP:

  • July 2016 – June 2017: Gavin Barwell
  • July 2014 – July 16: Brandon Lewis
  • October 2013 – July 2014: Kris Hopkins
  • September 2012 – October 2013: Mark Prisk
  • May 2010 – September 2012: Grant Shapps
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