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Vaizey: We will keep CABE but ARB must go

Ed Vaizey, the shadow minister for culture, has claimed he would save CABE from a Tory ‘bonfire of the quangos’ but again promised to kill off the Architects’ Registration Board (ARB).

Speaking to leading architectural practices at the AJ100 Breakfast Club, Vaizey (pcitured) said that ARB, the government-funded body that has regulated the architectural profession since 1997, was a ‘working example’ of how organisations can focus on self-preservation ‘whether or not it is in the public’s best interest’.

The shadow minister said he thought the RIBA could regulate the profession on its own and that this could ‘bring a small annual cost saving to all architects’.

Vaizey dispelled rumours that the Tories would axe the government’s advisory body on architecture, CABE: ‘I am a huge fan of CABE and hold it in part responsible for my architectural education,’ he said.

Speaking of his support for CABE, which was established in 1999, the shadow minister also repeated the possibility of a ‘chief architect or a chief designer’ to advise the government, saying it could provide a ‘public face’ and a force that would drive into ‘every department the point about good design and good architecture’.

However, the shadow minister raised concerns about the ‘design function’ of the Home and Communities Agency (HCA) and said there was scope for a debate to ensure CABE and the HCA ‘don’t overlap’.

Although Vaizey’s comments were generally well received, one delegate at the breakfast said he would take some of the grander claims ‘with a pinch of salt’.

Meanwhile Neil Murphy, Nightingale Associates’ London office principal, said: ‘There would need to be a lot of groundwork undertaken in order for Ed Vaizey’s suggestion of appointing a Government/chief architect to be successful and beneficial to all parties.’

He added: ‘At present, ARB is a central governing body that acts for all architects on the whole – any individual role replacing this would need to be fully representative of the profession.

An ARB spokeswoman said: ‘Mr Vaizey is welcome to visit us so that he can hear first hand what ARB does under the Architects Act 1997. Our chair will be extending an invitation to him, which we hope he accepts so  he can make an informed judgment about our responsibilities.’

Readers' comments (7)

  • B*gger. CABE should go.

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  • John Kellett

    The RIAI 'regulates' architects in Ireland, why not the RIBA / RIAS in the UK? The important thing is to require, under legislation, that designers of buildings are appropriately qualified and registered (RIBA or CIAT? or RICS?). Only then will the public and businesses be protected against cowboy 'architectural consultants' and technicians / surveyors with no design qualifications.

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  • OK. No ARB but some kind of body is required. I'm not interested in joining the RIBA or the RIAS and paying even more (for precious little), not less as Vaizey seems to think, solely to have my status as an architect recognised. Of course the RIBA will like this option as it's more members, more subscription income. Vaizey's confusion (and that of your correspondent John Kellet) is to conflate recognition of registered architect status with membership of a club. And as for assuming that the RIBA itself does not "focus on self-preservation" shows that Vaizey simply doesn't understand the situation.

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  • I don't want anything to do with the RIBA. This man is confused.

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  • I have a mate who is a failed builder - he now does planning drawings - he has no training - he is itching to call himself an architect and advertise as one - ed vaizey would allow this to happen - result - the role of architects diminish over night.

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  • Here we go again: the usual tired comments from the Luddites, mean in their attitude to the profession but determined to defend protection of title. Only surprising that there are not more of them. Vaizey is spot on. The protection of title monopoly diminishes the profession. With our skills and our training, there should be no need to be fearful of the plan drawers. But if there is, then what is wrong? Surely it's not with the plan drawers?

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  • An ARB spokeswoman said: ‘Mr Vaizey is welcome to visit us so that he can hear first hand what ARB does under the Architects Act 1997. Our chair will be extending an invitation to him, which we hope he accepts so he can make an informed judgment about our responsibilities.’

    Maybe the point here is he should only need read the Architects Act 1997 to understand what they do - and the issue is the ARB acts beyond its powers on occasion.

    The free use of Architect and greater use of a "British title" of Chartered Architect, would also help abolish some of the nonsense in the act regarding European qualified architects using the title.

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