The report examined the interaction between the house building industry, planning system, and government policies and has identified delays in the planning system, nimbyism and skills shortages in planning and construction.
The planning system is seen as reactive and negative rather than as a positive tool for change.
If it is a cultural change that is required, then we could be talking about a long-term strategy for boosting the output of housing.
How does this square with Barker's contention that the UK needs an extra 39,000 homes a year, an increase of 28%, just to keep pace with demand? She is likely to call for the release of more land and tax incentives to encourage institutional investment. This threatens a fresh row with environmentalists.
Social housing provision has declined because the private sector has not filled the gap left by the public sector, notwithstanding government intervention with ever-increasing affordable housing quotas which have bogged the system down in lengthy quota negotiations.
A key element of the government's agenda for speeding up the planning system is due to become law this spring. But a late amendment to the Planning Bill quietly reintroduces the spectre of development tax, permitting lump sum payments instead of section 106 agreements. Developers are concerned they will have little say in how tariffs are fixed or spent and are angry that such a radical proposal has a short consultation period.
The optimistic view is that we could have a structure in place by April 2005 but the timing, regulation and the potential benefits are uncertain. REITs must not be limited to residential aimed solely at increasing housing supply. REITs suit income-producing investment companies but are unsuited to development companies and housebuilders.
With a decision likely to be made by the end of the year, the voluntary commercial lease code does not have much longer to demonstrate results. Initial research is likely to show that, although many tenants were offered alternatives to upward-only reviews, they rejected them on cost grounds. If tenants are unwilling to pay, why penalise the landlord? Undoubtedly legislation to enforce two-way rent reviews could severely disrupt investment in UK property from landlords and lenders at a time when new investment is needed.
Susan Freeman is a property partner at Mishcon de Reya