What do we know about Gavin Barwell MP, our new housing and planning minister (and minister for London)? This is his official biography.
His own website is interesting, featuring a youtube video where he is objecting to a local Croydon housing proposal on green belt land.
I also carried out a quick search on the They Work For You website of his recent speeches in the Commons on planning issues. Some snippets:
“In the 1980s, the previous Conservative Government made a mistake on out-of-town planning policy. In Croydon, there have been major developments along the Purley Way, which drew people away from the town centre.
The scheme will create thousands of jobs. One thing I hope the council will do as part of the planning permission is try to ensure that as many construction and subsequent retail jobs as possible go to local people. I hope that Westfield and Hammerson take control of parking provision so that we can have sensible parking prices. I am a great believer in public transport, and I want improved public transport access so that those who can come by public transport do. However, the reality is that when some people go shopping—particularly if they buy a lot—they want to take their car. If our parking policy penalises them for doing that, we will be shooting ourselves in the foot.”
I also want to make a point about mixed use. The development scheme is not just a retail transformation; it will provide hundreds of new homes and leisure opportunities. We want Croydon’s major town centre to be an active destination not just during shopping hours but pretty much around the clock.
The scheme will not just be good on its own terms, but catalyse other development around the town centre. A number of schemes have been consented, but they are not being developed, because of the current economic climate. The new scheme will clearly bring them closer to fruition.”
2 September 2012:
“I warmly welcome what the Secretary of State said about the green belt, town centres and the temporary waiver of unrealistic section 106 agreements. However, if we have done everything we can to remove developers’ excuses for not developing, why does it make sense to allow them to extend the duration of existing planning permissions?”
15 February 2011:
“Let me take the right hon. Gentleman back a couple of minutes. He made a point that I hope all members of the Committee recognise as important, about the tension between need and local wishes that the planning system has to manage. Studies on human behaviour show that if we want to convince people to do something, trying to compel them is not the most effective way to do it. Does he recognise that? Incentivising people is much more effective in getting people to move in the required direction. Does he not see that there is a fundamental flaw in our planning system, in that it tends to work through compulsion rather than incentives?”
20 January 2011:
“I want to pick up a comment made by Mr Whitaker on regional spatial strategies and the current planning system. He said that he does not accept that it is top-down and centrist. I find those remarks very difficult to square with the experience of the community that I represent.
I shall give the example of a place in my constituency, Shirley. Over the past 10 years, it has seen a whole series of back-land developments on the main road—townhouses and blocks of flats completely out of character with the properties that were there beforehand. For a number of years, the council approved those applications. The council was then changed, and it started to turn down such applications. It has found that the applications can be referred to the Planning Inspectorate in Bristol. Officials who do not know the area and never bother to come to look at it have overturned decisions made by the local council.
How do you justify that statement? If you are right that it is a bottom-up system at the moment, what have my constituents been doing wrong that they have ended up with a whole series of developments that they hate?”
18 November 2010:
“Most people are concerned not about race or skin colour, but about population growth, jobs and the pressure on local public services. Many of those issues have been addressed today so I shall keep my comments brief. On population growth, the latest projections from 2008, which are based on the assumption of net migration to this country of 180,000 people a year, predict that the population will increase to 71.6 million by 2033, an increase of 10.2 million people. Of those 10.2 million people, about 7 million will be accounted for by net migration.
My right hon. Friend referred to housing projections in Hertfordshire, and I am sure that every Member can tell a similar story. My local authority is a growth area under the London plan, but the plans for significant housing growth cause real concern. Bizarrely, very few people live in our town centre, so there is an opportunity to build significantly more housing there, but large parts of my constituency have suffered in recent years from overdevelopment, which has changed the character of residential areas. There has been lot of backbone development, with detached or semi-detached houses replaced by blocks of flats, and that has caused real concerns for constituents. Indeed, the pattern of net migration has driven much of that change.”
I am sure we all wish Mr Barwell well in such a vital role – and look forward to engaging on the issues.
Simon Ricketts 17.7.16
Personal views, et cetera