Robert Napier will take up the post from January and will chair the agency until its merger with the Housing Corporation in 2009.
Napier resigned from WWF-UK's steering group for the code for sustainable homes after complaining that the government was ignoring its advice (Planning, 9 December 2005, p3).
Napier said: "My task is to ensure the delivery of housing stock and inward investment and to drive English Partnerships' agenda. We need to be three years ahead of the market and this is especially important for the next 18 months."
Planning minister Yvette Cooper said: "I am pleased that Napier has accepted this very challenging role."