The ODPM has appointed a new planning director amid mounting concerns that it has lost focus.

The appointee is Colin Byrne, a career civil servant who has been responsible for planning, housing and sustainable communities at the Government Office for the South-east. He will replace Brian Hackland as the ODPM’s director of planning.

Hackland has become director of the Government Office for the East of England.

Byrne’s appointment emerged in the same week that a MORI poll leaked to The Sunday Times showed that senior officials across Whitehall believed there was a lack of leadership at the ODPM.

A former member of the ODPM said having two cabinet ministers at the ODPM, David Miliband and John Prescott, “could not be sustained”.