Dame Kate Barker to lead new commission into England’s housing shortage


Dame Kate Barker CBE is to lead a new Commission into England’s housing shortage.

Barker, who undertook landmark inquiries into housing supply and land use planning for the last Labour Government, will head up the Commission on behalf of radical centre think tank, Radix Big Tent, with the support of law firm Shoosmiths.

The Radix Housing Commission will specifically focus on responding to England’s housing shortage. Its aim is to make recommendations soon after the anticipated General Election.

During its work, the Commission will address four distinct, but connected issues: how to free up more land for development; the role of specialist housing, for example for students and older people; approaches to sustainability; and ensuring affordability.

The Commissioners include property professionals, developers, investors, planners, voluntary sector practitioners, academics and policy experts, as well as representatives of Shoosmiths and Radix. This is alongside hugely respected Lord Richard Best, cross-party peer, who chaired the Affordable Housing Commission and is a Member of the House of Lords Built Environment Committee and a former chair of the Hanover Housing Association.

Others include Richard Blyth, head of policy and research at Royal Town Planning Institute; Paul Brocklehurst, chair of the Land, Planning and Development Federation; Elsie Owusu OBE, founding chair of the Society of Black Architects and Vicky Pryce, Radix Fellows chair and former head of the UK Government Economic Service, alongside Rick de Blaby, CEO at Get Living and Andrew Taylor FRTPI, group planning director at Vistry Group.

On launching the Commission, Radix Big Tent 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.

“In establishing this Commission, Radix Big Tent – which prides itself on applying innovative and entrepreneurial thinking to problem solving – is bringing together public, voluntary and private sector voices to identify practical policy solutions to one of the most enduring challenges of our age.”

Dame Kate Barker added:

“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.”

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

“Housing is already shaping up to be a key battleground for parties in the lead up to the general 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.

“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.”

The Commission will be meeting publicly and privately over the coming months and will be inviting experts involved in the real estate sector to provide evidence, ahead of submitting proposals to the next government, spanning planning policy, land, and unlocking investment.

The Commission members are:

  • Dame Kate Barker CBE (chair), chair of the 2004 ‘Barker Review’ on UK Housing Supply and the subsequent review on UK Land Use Planning (2006); author of Housing: Where’s the Plan (2014), former 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
  • Dr Catriona Riddell, expert in strategic planning issues working with local authorities


    • Rosie Pearson says

      I agree 100%. We need to move on from ‘supply solves the problem’ and we need to move on from ‘the home ownership dream’ solves the problem. I’m extremely concerned we’re going to end up with another ten/twenty years of more of the same. We need to acknowledge that the private market never will and never should solve the housing crisis and we need to acknowledge that the housing crisis about genuine need and affordability.

Leave a Reply

The Author
Other Radix News
Follow Us