The economist will head up a new commission into housing shortages in England, 20 years on from the Barker review of housing supply

Dame Kate Barker has been appointed to lead a new inquiry into England’s housing supply by thinktank Radix, with the support of law firm Shoosmiths. 



Dame Kate Barker describes it as “depressing” that many of the problems she identified in her 2004 review remain, and emphasises that a “pragmatic overthink is overdue”. 

Dame Kate Barker describes it as “depressing” that many of the problems she identified in her 2004 review remain, and emphasises that a “pragmatic overthink is overdue”. 

Twenty years on from Barker’s review into housing supply and land use planning for the last Labour government, the economist will lead another review into housing supply.

Barker will lead the Radix Housing Commission, which will focus specifically on addressing housing shortages in England. The commission aims to make recommendations soon after the general election.

As part of the inquiry, commissioners will address four key areas, including how to free up land for development, the role of specialist housing for students and older people, and approaches to sustainability and affordability.

There will be 15 commissioners conducting the inquiry.

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The Commission members

Dame Kate Barker CBE (chair), chair of the 2004 ‘Barker Review’ on Housing Supply and the subsequent review on Land Use Planning (2006); author of Housing: Where’s the Plan (2014), non-exec Director at Taylor Wimpey plc and formerly member of the National Infrastructure Commission

Lord Richard Best, social housing leader and member of House of Lords Built Environment Committee

Richard Blyth, head of policy at the Royal Town Planning Institute

Paul Brocklehurst, chair of the Land, Planning and Development Federation and former head of Catesby Estates

Tom Chance, CEO, Community Land Trust Network

Rick de Blaby, CEO, Get Living

Melissa Mean, director at WeCanMake, a community-based project to create affordable homes by unlocking micro-sites for development

Alexandra Notay, placemaking and investment director at Thriving Investments, and Independent Board Commissioner on the UK government’s Geospatial Commission

Elsie Owusu, founding chair of the Society of Black Architects

Vicky Pryce, chair of Radix Fellows and leading economist

Ben Rich, CEO, Radix Big Tent and former secretary to Lord Rogers’ Urban Taskforce

Jackie Sadek, director at Urban Strategy and urban regeneration expert

Andrew Taylor FRTPI, group planning director at Vistry Group

Lisa Tye, partner and living sector co-head at Shoosmiths

Doreen Wright, commercial director at A2Dominion Group

Dame Kate Barker said: “Twenty years on from leading a review of housing supply it’s depressing to find many of the problems identified still remain. A pragmatic rethink is overdue.”

Radix chief executive, Ben Rich, said: ”There is a general consensus that the housing sector is in crisis and lots of solutions have been proposed, but many of them fall at the first hurdle because of a disconnect between the recommendations made and the commercial realities of the property sector.”

Lisa Tye, partner and living sector co-head at commission partner Shoosmiths, added that at this election, “there have been vows to ‘choose the builders, not the blockers’, relax restrictions around commercial-to-residential conversions, and prioritise brownfield development. Much of this has been heard before, with big promises, but little delivery.”

Tye added: “It is vital that we move away from politicising housing delivery and provision. The message is simple – we need to build more quality, sustainable and mixed-tenure homes, boosting residential supply and choice across England and the rest of the UK. This Commission seeks to unite experts from across the real estate industry to put forward a range of recommendations for the government and policymakers to consider and act upon.”

Radix describes itself as a thinktank for the “radical centre of contemporary politics”. The commission is a partnership between Radix Big Tent and Shoosmiths LLP, who will be sharing the costs. The commissioners will be participating on a voluntary basis and shaping the recommendations of the inquiry.