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'Good value' arb raises retention fees again

The Architects Registration Board (arb) is to implement another price hike on its annual retention fee, just over a year since it last asked architects to dig deeper. Following a meeting led by chairwoman Barbara Kelly last week it was agreed that some of the extra cash would be used to supplement refurbishment work costs for the board's offices in Hallam Street, London, and to cover the costs of validation visits to schools of architecture.

The arb intends to lift fees for retention and registration from the current £50 per year fee to £55, a 10 per cent increase, following the 66 per cent rise from £30 to £50 in May last year.

arb chairwoman Barbara Kelly said the fee still represented 'good value' for registered architects. 'Our work is designed to enhance the standing of the profession and to protect the title of registered practitioners. Each year we take a good hard look at the board's financial position and weigh up our commitments against our real desire to keep the fee levels as low as possible.' A spokeswoman added that the Board felt it necessary to push through the new rises so soon because the figure had been 'suppressed' for so long (eight years static) under arcuk. She said that last year arb had intended a 'staggered' increase of the fee but denied that a further increase was already on the cards for next year. 'The bottom line is that it's still not very much money' she said.

The extra funds raised are also likely to go towards increased costs that will be incurred next year, such as the cost of using the Electoral Reform Society for the election of architect board members, an increase in National Insurance contributions and the 'basic' refurbishment of the arb offices. The arb had originally planned to move from its headquarters, but will now refurbish the property early next year after holding a competitive interview competition. De Rijke Marsh Morgan Architects has clinched the job. The project is defended by the arb as 'the minimum required to ensure operational efficiency', and will be part-funded by reserves left over from arcuk.

arb has also made a series of decisions on the investigation of complaints. It has imposed a six-year time limit on complaints against architects being accepted for investigation; will now investigate allegations of unacceptable professional conduct where an architect has successfully defended a civil action in the courts; and those subject to complaints will be notified as soon as possible and allowed to reply to allegations. The new targets will come into operation on 1 September.

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