Prime minister moves architecture into housing and planning department ‘with immediate effect’

The prime minister has confirmed architecture’s move from the ministry of culture to the communities department, as exclusively revealed by Building’s sister title BD earlier this month.

It means architecture will now sit alongside the planning and housing portfolios in Eric Pickles’ office rather than with heritage.

The move prompted Cabe chief Clare Devine to urge the incoming government to elevate the next planning and housing minister to cabinet. The post is currently held by Brandon Lewis.

“This is a practical step which we wholeheartedly welcome,” said Devine, director of architecture and the built environment at the Design Council.

“Given that the department already looks after the means to deliver good quality places – the planning system, local government finance and the community rights programmes – it is a positive move to bring these together.

“We hope this move will mean the delivery of high-quality places moves up the agenda across government. We urge any incoming government to ensure the minister for planning and housing, with this new brief, has a seat in cabinet.”

Cany Ash, of Ash Sakula, said: “Ministries are separated fiefdoms. What I’d like to see would be architecture infiltrating every ministry, just as the built environment is the inescapable context for all aspects of our lives.

“That said, it’s great that architecture is even being thought about in Whitehall, but this is only going to be useful if specific local opportunities and creative solutions are put before generalised policy approaches.”

Making the announcement in a written statement to the Commons, prime minister David Cameron said: “Responsibility for promoting high-quality design in the built environment will transfer from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport to the Department for Communities and Local Government. This change will be effective immediately.”