Jack Dromey also reveals Labour would restore regional planning

Labour’s new shadow housing minister has said the party would restore regional planning if put in power at the next election.

Jack Dromey, who was confirmed as shadow to housing minister Grant Shapps on Monday, told Building that he had been asked by Labour leader Ed Miliband to put “housing centre stage” as Labour looks to rebuild support.

Dromey, a former union official who is married to Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, also said that Labour would put a new era of council house building at the centre of his policies.

Dromey said: “The government was absolutely crazy to abolish Regional Spatial Strategies (RSSs) and Regional Development Agencies. We are now the only country in western Europe without effective regional and sub-regional planning. We need to address that.”

Dromey said it was impossible to say at this stage that any future Labour would specifically re-instate the RSSs that were abolished. However, he said: “Quite what you put in place isn’t clear, we’re working on that. But all of the European experience tells us we need effective strategic planning and we need that effective infrastructure.”

Dromey said he was cynical about prime minister David Cameron’s ability to deliver the 200,000 new homes pledged at the Conservative conference, saying Labour had committed to spend the proceeds of a second bankers bonus tax on building 25,000 houses. “We need a new era of council housebuilding. Centre stage for Labour will be a new generation of council homes,” he said.

Dromey replaced Alison Seabeck in the role after a reshuffle of the shadow cabinet by Miliband on Friday. Former environment secretary Hilary Benn has now taken the role of shadow communities secretary.