The RIBA has launched its highly contentious Chartered Practice scheme.
The initiative, launched yesterday, for a 'client-focused accreditation scheme' for practices, has already come under fire from many radical small practitioners.
According to its backers, including former BDP chair Richard Saxon, chartered practices will work to a common set of standards in order to offer better services and protect the public.
The scheme's supporters claim that it was initiated in response to clients' requirements, increased public and government pressure for consumer protection and architects seeking increased promotion.
But opponents have argued that the initiative will pander to the interests of large practices, leaving smaller offices out in the cold. They fear that only major firms will have the resources to meet the requirements of the scheme.
However, Jack Pringle, RIBA president, defended the initiative. 'The Chartered Practice scheme is for all practices and is designed to be inclusive and not exclusive,' he said.
'This important initiative will enhance the capabilities of practices and make them more attractive to clients, while giving clients the quality assurance they need.
'Its aim is also to raise the value and worth of architects and, by improving the effectiveness of practices, it will ultimately increase the income levels of architects across the board,' Pringle added. by Ed Dorrell