Greg Clark tells departments to ‘loosen their grip’

Not resting on his laurels, newly appointed Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Greg Clark has alreay made his first announcement.

Promoted from a ministerial role at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, Greg Clark will head the department responsible for creating ‘great places to live and work, The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), which has also recently assumed responsibility for architecture policy.

Speaking ahead of the first meeting of a dedicated ministerial Housing Taskforce, he urged departments to ‘loosen their grip’ on sites that are standing idle so they can be released for new housebuilding. This is linked with the target to release enough land for 150,000 homes by 2020.

He has also called on England’s 326 councils to follow the government’s lead and look at the land assets they hold, saying:

“The chance to own your own home should be available to everyone who works hard and aspires to. That is what a government for working people is about – making sure people have the security they need to build a brighter future for them and their families.

“The scale of our ambition is clear – to release enough surplus and redundant public sector land for 150,000 homes over the next five years. I want to see departments going further and faster than before, starting right away, to loosen their grip on sites that are standing idle and to turn them over for housebuilding.

“Councils are significant landowners and town halls should be looking at their estate, particularly brownfield sites, and thinking about how they could make better use of their holdings by releasing land for new homes for their communities.”

Previously, Greg Clark held the posts of minister for decentralisation at DCLG, and minister for cities at the Cabinet Office, and his appointment is being seen as strengthening the regional and cities devolution agenda.

Industry bodies reacted positively to his appointment with Federation of Master Builders CEO, Brian Ferry saying:

“Greg Clark played a crucial role in putting in place the National Planning Policy Framework and we welcome his appointment as state secretary for communities and local government.”

By David Mote, Editor