Lee Rowley, MP, p Commons library

Lee Rowley spoke to Place North West at MIPIM. Credit: Department for Levelling Up, Housing, and Communities, via CC BY 3.0, bit.ly/43GCfAZ

MIPIM | Rowley: ‘It does not matter what number minister I am’

MIPIM coverage sponsored by TogetherLee Rowley is the 15th different housing minister since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, a fact he says is irrelevant when it comes to the UK’s record on delivery.

Speaking to Place North West at MIPIM, Rowley said the message from the Tories on housing has been consistent over the last decade and a half, despite the revolving door of ministers.

“It doesn’t matter what number [housing minister] I am,” he said. “It matters that we’re here [at MIPIM] making the case that the UK is an attractive place to come to progress.

“I think we should focus less on who does it and more on what people are saying. Throughout the last 14 years, there has been a consistent message, which is that the UK wants inward investment that UK needs to build more.”

Property professionals have bemoaned a lack of stability in recent years having seen a large number of housing ministers come and go. This is Rowley’s second stint – he held the post for a little under two months between September and October 2022 during Liz Truss’s ill-fated tenure.

Rowley said being at MIPIM has reaffirmed his belief that the world sees the UK as a viable investment proposition.

“It has been super interesting to have the opportunity to talk about what the UK has to offer, and the opportunities that we have in the years to come,” he said.

He said there is “brilliant work” being done across the North West and other regions that could pave the way for international investment.

“The way that we transform our cities and our communities over the long term is by getting people who want to invest in us to do that in the right places.

“Then we can see the transformation and regeneration that comes from it. And we’ve seen that in the North West in Manchester and Liverpool. We want more of that.”

It is a truth almost universally acknowledged that the UK, like many other nations, is in the midst of a housing crisis. Government has been criticised for a lack of action in addressing this and more recently has been accused of siding with NIMBYs over issues like the Green Belt.

Rowley defended his party’s track record on homes, saying that support is there to boost delivery.

“We have the best part of £11bn already going into housing through the Affordable Housing Programme, and we have got significant additional regeneration programmes like the brownfield infrastructure planning programme,” he said.

“The government is doing an awful lot to try and support. We always recognise there is more that we can do and we’re trying to do that.”

If polls are to be believed, Rowley could be out of a job once the general election comes around. Time is almost up for the Conservatives to make a meaningful dent in the housing crisis and soon the issue will be someone else’s.

Change will be welcomed by many. However, the housing industry has learned over the last 14 years that fresh faces do not always result in different outcomes.

Place North West MIPIM 2024 coverage is sponsored by Together. Visit Place North’s MIPIM hub to find the latest news from Cannes.

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He’s not a number, no. He’s two numbers (13 and 16) and of course it matters. This government has massively failed on housing, partly because with its revolving door approach, it clearly treats the housing ministry as a joke. Gavin Barwell had started to get to grips with it – he was moved on after less than 11 months. It matters not though – this government is in a mess on this topic as it is on so many others: it cannot decide how to balance the acknowledged need for housing with the NIMBY element it needs to prevent political obliteration at local and national elections. As such, its policy is a mess and will remain so. They need to go. The new government then needs to be grown up about things to seek the right balance between protection and delivery. Tinkering around the edges with stupid Prior Approvals and PD that deliver rubbish housing without delivering any reasonable management through the planning process is storing up trouble this government won’t be around to address.

By I am not a number...

These ministers always bandy words, about how much they have invested in this and that, yet for a G7 nation, our infrastructure is an embarrassment. The bottom line, is they have made a pig’s ear of managing the economy and the areas of Britain they have deprived of investment for decades, continue to suffer because of their neglect.

By Elephant

Sort the planning system out if they want more development, too many local Cllr’s sticking their fingers in despite no education in planning. Calling everything in and refusing anything they can. We need to get rid of planning boards, waste of time and resources, even worse when you consider the appeal costs caused by them.

By Anonymous

@I am not a number – he made such an impression I didn’t know he was either the 13th or the 16th Housing Minister! His words and this Government are now an irrelevance. They will soon be gone, We must hope Labour bring some consistent housing policy back, a return of some form of regional guidance and a way to end local politicians of all colours forever holding up housing delivery.
Ah well. Its the hope that kills you!

By Who?

It doesn’t what what number he has chalked upon his office door. He will achieve nothing as the Govt is wedded to concept that home ownership is only model they will promote and support. How can he explain the definition of ‘affordable housing ‘ to the 10,000+ applicants on the Cheshire Homechoice waiting list and keep a straight face?

By Realist

He has less than 12 months to get so much done.

By Anonymous

Another absolute drip given a fancy title, and I can assure you it does matter what number you are. Anybody taking bets on how long he’ll be sticking around for? Definitely worthy of his recent pay increase, he can buy himself another shiny suit now.

By Anonymous

Lee Rowley needs to recognise that saying hasn’t translated into doing over the past decade and a half. The UK is not an attractive place to come an progress for inward investment on housing with the exception of city centre BtR and now that. They don’t have a positive track record on wider housing delivery and policy and widening political divisions have only exacerbated the situation with his own party siding with the nimby’s.. It’s inconsequential what is said now, the election is coming

By Paddy McGoohan

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