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ARB rules out expansionism as resignations continue

Future Systems' partner Amanda Levete has resigned from the ruling council of the Architects Registration Board for the second time.

Levete says that the demands of her practice's scheme for Selfridges in Birmingham mean that she no longer has the time for the ARB board.

In December she and three others quit in protest at the handling of the appointment of a new chief executive.

She was voted back on to the board in March.'It is simply because we are very, very busy, ' she said. 'In December there was a very different reason for resigning. Robin Vaughan [the ARB's chief executive] has really turned it around and there is an atmosphere of stability now.'

John Wright, Modern Design Group managing director and RIBA vice president, has taken Levete's place and will work closely on forging agreements with other countries, allowing UK architects to practice more freely abroad.'I've always been a fan of the ARB, ' said Wright. 'I believe in the generality of what it is doing in ensuring consumer interest. I think it is over its teething problems.'

These teething problems have plagued the ARB since its formation in 1997. The disciplinary committee has come under fire over its handling of conduct hearings and, until recently, relations between the ARB and the RIBA have been strained.

Only this Tuesday the ARB attempted to repair some of the damage to its reputation by holding an open evening.

Architects and other stakeholders were given a chance to meet and talk with board members and staff about the ARB and to see its refurbished central London offices.'Our press is that we are a closed body and this is our attempt to demonstrate that this is not right, ' said Vaughan.

RIBA officials, civil servants and academics were among the 200 invitees.

Prior to the open evening the board met to discuss proposals for a five-year plan for the ARB which will limit its activities to education, regulation and registration.

'We need to demonstrate to people that we just have three areas of competence, ' said Vaughan. 'There is a feeling in some quarters that we are looking to expand into things like providing support services for architects. But when we say that we have no expansionist ambitions, that is true.'

The board will approve and publish the strategy in December.

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