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Breaking news: official go-ahead for CABE-Design Council merger

The government has approved the merger between CABE and the Design Council, creating a new ‘one stop shop’ for design support and industry advice

The news comes just four months after CABE’s funding was controversially pulled and will see the organisations share resources and premises, with around 20 CABE staff transferring to the council’s Covent Garden offices.

Crucially the commission’s design review role will be retained, with a core team continuing to provide ‘advice to councils, developers and communities through reviews of major proposed projects both at a national and local level’.

The new alliance has also promised to focus on promoting good ‘building and spatial design’, in particular in respect of new homes and neighbourhoods, as well as offering mentoring services on the ‘strategic use of design’, from a national team of strategists.

There are also plans to launch ‘high-profile, cross-disciplinary design challenges’ to develop ‘innovative solutions to national issues in health, security and sustainability’.

Chair of CABE, Paul Finch said: ‘This very positive move will place architecture at the heart of the economy as a driver for competitive businesses and places. I am very much looking forward to the combined expertise of our two organisations coming together to achieve that.’

The Design Council will be consulting with CABE staff in the coming weeks to finalise the roles which will continue to deliver the Design Review services, as part of the new organisation. These will be confirmed, along with the new organisational structure for the Design Council when staff consultations in both organisations have been completed.

Although the Design Council’s name and status as a Royal Charter charity will be unaffected the organisation will cease to be a Non-Departmental Government Body (NDPB) from 1 April, as set out in the government’s recent Public Bodies Review. The new organisation will continue to be financed through a combination of sources, as has been the case for the last few years, including grants from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG)

According to the Design Council, the move will also mean a saving of public money through the combination some of the activities of two public bodies into one independent charitable organisation. The new organisation will continue to be financed through a combination of sources, as has been the case for the last few years, including grants from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG).

A new governance structure for the Design Council will be put in place to equip the new organisation to deliver its new broader remit from 1 April. This will include a significantly expanded council drawn from a range of disciplines and specialisms in design, government, business and education.

Postscript

Commenting on the joining of the organisations, Chair of the Design Council Lord Bichard said: ‘Now more than ever we need design at the heart of social and economic renewal, and a strong message about design in all its forms. I am looking forward to working with our colleagues at CABE and with a wide range of industry partners to make this a success.’

Voicing his support for the merger, Grant Shapps, the Minister of State for Housing & Local Government said: ‘I want local residents themselves to have a much greater say over how their communities are designed.  By merging these elements of the Design Council and the CABE, we can continue to improve the local support that is available for people to do this, and build on the strong track record in offering mentoring, training and support.

‘This merger, which has the support of leading experts in the field, will not only mean the excellent work the Commission has already undertaken can continue, but will also ensure that every taxpayer’s pound spent on improving design is spent wisely and efficiently.’

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