Barker Review looks to the regions
Treasury officials are touring the country as part of the Barker Review into speeding up housing supply.Members of the review team are in the process of visiting seven councils to examine the different supply problems faced by different English regions.The housing markets visited include Carlisle, East Northamptonshire, Newcastle, Haringey and Harrogate-York, Basingstoke and Deane, and Brighton and Hove-Worthing-Adur.A Treasury spokesperson said the team was investigating the responsiveness of the housing markets and how the government could help councils speed up house building.Mark Lupton, policy analyst at the Chartered Institute of Housing, said: ‘It is good news that they are doing it because there is always the tendency to talk to the usual suspects.‘It shows there is some attempt to garner views on the ground not just from the centre.‘And it is good that they are going to parts of the north. There is a danger that the focus will be on the south east and more northern issues may be lost.'John Miller, head of planning at Newcastle Council, met review members last month at a round table discussion.‘The Treasury tabled a series of issues and questions – many of which were very complex,' he said.‘They wanted to know about the strengths and weaknesses of the housing market and how we dealt with planning applications. They asked us where we showed areas of reluctance [in granting applications].‘They seemed to be feeling the way towards finding out ways the government could lend support to the housing market. But also they want to ensure that local government are not obstructive and have a healthy relationship with house builders and an understanding of the market.'He said he hoped the review team understood that low demand areas also had problems with supply. ‘We lack the variety in our homes, especially in the middle of the market, and we have houses in the wrong place.'