North East Derbyshire MP has track record of opposing planning applications in his constituency

North East Derbyshire MP Lee Rowley has been named the new housing and planning minister, after the announcement was delayed due to the mourning period for Queen Elizabeth.

Lee Rowley moves to the role after having spent a year as construction minister, prior to resigning in July in the wake of the handling of the Chris Pincher harassment scandal, which ultimately led to the downfall of former prime minister Boris Johnson.

Lee Rowley

New housing and planning minister Lee Rowley

While there has been no official announcement of the appointment, Rowley said on Twitter that he was “delighted” to be joining the new secretary of state for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Simon Clarke as “housing & planning minister”.

Rowley’s appointment appears to mark a downgrading of the status of the housing minister role, with Rowley a junior minister – technically described as a parliamentary under secretary of state – where all his predecessors, including the flurry of office-holders this year, Marcus Jones, Stuart Andrew and Chris Pincher, instead held the rank of minister of state.

Rowley tweeted that he had “a big job ahead to further help raise standards & service across the sector, to improve how planning works for local communities and, vitally, to empower more people achieve their dream of home ownership”.

Rowley was named a junior minister in the department in the days immediately after Liz Truss was appointed prime minister, however the allocation of the roles was held up due to the period of mourning which came into force after the news broke of Queen Elizabeth’s death, and it was not clear who in the department would take on the job of housing minister.

Levelling up secretary Simon Clarke said on Twitter that he was “finally” able to make the announcement which had been “delayed in deference to the mourning period”, that the “excellent” Lee Rowley was the new housing minister. Clarke added: “Lee is a huge intellect, a great friend and is keenly committed to building the homes we need.”

Rowley’s appointment makes him the fourth housing minister this year alone, following the departure of Pincher earlier in the year, and then the resignation of his replacement, Stuart Andrew in the furore surrounding the departure of Johnson, with Marcus Jones occupying the role in the interim.

Prior to his appointment, Rowley was a junior minister in the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy between September 2021 and July this year, during which period he covered the construction brief. At this time he was also a Lord commissioner at the Treasury, and prior to this had spent time as deputy chairman of the Conservative Party.

Rowley, 41, is a milkman’s son originally from Chesterfield, and former management consultant, and was the first member of his family to attend university. Openly gay, he was a councillor in Westminster between 2006 and 2014, before winning the North East Derbyshire seat from Labour in 2017. As an MP he has been a vocal opponent of fracking in his local area, and has also devoted an area of his web page to “fighting inappropriate planning applications”.

On this page Rowley says that he has “stood up against inappropriate planning applications across North East Derbyshire - and will continue to do so until planning is in a better place”, claiming he successfully resisted plans for 300 homes in Old Tupton.”

Mark Reynolds, chairman and chief executive of construction giant Mace and the Co-Chair of the Construction Leadership Council, welcomed his appointment, saying Rowley had shown a “keen interest in the challenges and opportunities facing the industry” while construction minister, “and was dedicated to working with us to help support businesses of all sizes across the sector.”

He said: “I’m confident he’ll bring the same energy and commitment to his new brief and we look forward to continuing working with him and his team through the CLC, delivering on our shared commitment to build more efficient and safer homes.”

A spokesperson for the Home Builders Federation said: ‘If we are to deliver the homes the country needs, there a number of key policy areas that need to be addressed. We look forward to engaging with the new minister to find solutions so the industry can deliver more, high quality, energy efficient new homes and the associated social and economic benefits.”