Don't See Property as Pension, Warns Housing Policy Expert

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Byline: By DAVID WINNING Western Mail

One of the Government's leading advisers on housing policy yesterday warned that the market remained volatile and cautioned against viewing property as a pension. Kate Barker, a member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee and author of the Barker Report into the future of housing in Britain, was the keynote speaker at a conference organised by the Chartered Institute of Housing in Cardiff, yesterday.

Speaking to a gathering of planners, developers and policy- makers, she said, 'It's hard to find somebody in the immediate environment who's comfortable with what's going on.'

She warned that in the near future housing will no longer seem 'an exciting investment' if the market is dominated by pensioners attempting to sell their properties.

Ms Barker's comments followed a presentation in which she called for government reform to make housing policy and development more responsive to the needs of the population. She restated the main demands of her report, published last March, that a massive increase in the number of houses - both in the private and social sectors - was essential.

She made headlines in 2004 when she said 140,000 houses had to be built in England alone each year to hold down prices and meet the soaring demand for homes.

Dr Michael Harmer, head of research for the Social Justice and Regeneration Department of the Welsh Assembly Government, followed Ms Barker with a presentation designed to highlight the particular challenges facing Wales. Lack of available building land, especially in areas surrounded by national parks, and high levels of inward-migration, he argued, made the type of supply-side building projects advocated by Ms Barker difficult to implement. …