Housing minister Margaret Beckett today named Sir Michael Pitt as the preferred candidate to be chair of the new Infrastructure Planning Commission.

Pitt, currently chair of the south-west strategic health authority, will be in charge of the new commission which will take decisions on planning applications for infrastructure projects of national significance.

It was also announced today that the commission will be headquartered in Bristol.

Sir Michael’s appointment will be subject to endorsement by the Communities and Local Government select committee.

He is the chair of two companies, Solace Enterprises and Swindon Commercial Services, and was formerly chief executive of Kent and Cheshire county councils.

The Infrastructure Planning commission will be formerly established in October this year.