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Spending Review: CABE closed down

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) is to be wound-up after the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) pulled its funding for the quango

With the commission’s official government sponsor deciding to remove its £5 million annual funding, it is understood CABE’s other major funder the CLG will also withdraw its financial support - worth nearly £7million last year.

According to AJ sources, the design watchdog could have been sacrificed to allow the government to press on with a number of major arts projects such as the Tate Britain and British Museum extensions. These projects were among a number of high-profile schemes safeguarded under the government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR).

The commission will be given a final payout of around £3.4 million to cover staff redundancy and pay up the existing tenancy agreements.

CABE chair Paul Finch said: ‘We are bitterly disappointed. We had got through two rounds of potential quango abolitions and we thought we had done enough to survive.’

Speculation is already rife that the commission could re-emerge in another format.

A DCMS spokesperson said: ‘Unfortunately the state of our public finances dictates that difficult choices had to be made. The most pressing need is to protect and maintain other parts of our culture and heritage.’

More on this later.

Readers' comments (10)

  • Well nice to have a little sugar today to sweeten the pill.
    Some of them may even have to start designing buildings themselves instead of telling others how to do it

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  • Excellent news!

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  • Well done. The only spending cut all the architects will be very happy with.

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  • I think its a shame, one more opportunity for mediocre design to rear its ugly head within the public realm. CABE didn't always get it right, but any sort of constructive criticism that raises the debate on good design should be welcomed rather than stifled. What's next, English Heritage?

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  • CABE has always had plenty of critics, so no surprise that some of those commenting are pleased by the news. But perhaps they should let us know who they are? Then we might be able to work out if they are people whose projects have been criticised by CABE (just a thought); and form our own view about who was right.

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  • With so little building going on, and less to come, CABE was bound to be cut. Abolition is not sensible though, but symbolic of laissez faire government. In the urban story this will be visible as a concrete tree ring, formed by a harsh economic winter. Ironically, good buildings usually come out of recessions, so probably less need for a critique.

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  • "Some of them may even have to start designing buildings themselves instead of telling others how to do it". That is exactly the point - CABE did need to tell others how to do it. Unfortunately, you only have to look at the terrible quality of some of the architecture out there to understand this.

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  • I have a suggestion that the editor reviews her policy of allowing anonymous comments. It allows people to get away with all kinds of rude and boring statements which are not worth publishing. Let's have rather more intelligent debate about important issues.

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  • Well I think its sad but a reflection on where we are heading? I was there at the start of the CABE and did my own bit to help shape it. One thing CABE did do was propomote architects and for that we should be grateful. CABE put the RIBA under pressure to be less of a club and more a helpful force for change.

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  • Im quite happy to put my name to criticism of CABE. it was an organisation which was based around the flawed theory that an overgrown architecural "crit" could improve the design of buildings. it was filled with the self righteous self important old boys and girls of the architectural establishment who could happily sit around carping about other architects designs till the cows come home. Name another profession that openly crticises its colleagues work? no wonder we are so devalued by the rest of the industry.

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