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General Election 2017: Alok Sharma appointed as planning minister

Words: The Planner
Alok Sharma / Foreign and Commonwealth Office

The government has announced that Alok Sharma, the MP for Reading West, as the new housing and planning minister.

Communities secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the appointment on Twitter: "Congratulations to my friend @AlokSharma_RDG, our new Housing & Planning Minister @CommunitiesUK. Great to have him on board."

Sharma replaces Gavin Barwell, who lost his Croydon Central seat in the General Election. He tweeted: "Honoured to be appointed Minister of State for Housing & Planning to work on building the homes #Britain needs @CommunitiesUK."

Stephen Wilkinson, president of the RTPI, welcomed Sharma.

"The RTPI has a long history of working closely with previous ministers and looks forward to working with the new one. The delivery of affordable housing, built in the right places with the appropriate infrastructure and services, will be a key priority for the new minister. We look forward to working with him to ensure planners continue to play a central role in delivery."

The RTPI will be writing to Sharma to seek a meeting with him, as soon as possible, to discuss planning’s role in delivery and the implementation of the measures contained within the housing white paper, which was published in February this year.

Sharma is an Indian-born politician who has represented the reading West contituency since 2010. He retained the seat in this election with a majority reduced from 6,550 to 2,876.

A chartered accountant by profession, Sharma worked in corporate finance for Nikko Securities and then Skandinaviska Enskilda Banken before entering politics.

He has recently served as Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and been a member of the Science and Technology Select Committee and the Treasury Select Committee.

He is a vocal supporter of Heathrow Airport expansion and has campaigned to reduce overcrowding on trains from Reading to London by removing first class carriages.

According to the website They Work For You, Sharma typically votes with the party line on most issues, although he voted against an investigation into the Iraq War and for a wholly elected House of Lords. He has voted in favour of HS2, and charging market rents to high-earning council house tenants. He has generally voted against measures to prevent climate change.

Sharma was opposed to Brexit at the 2016 referendum.

Image credit | Foreign and Commonwealth Office