The RIBA has decided to close its Newcastle office, adding to growing fears about the institute's commitment to the regions.
Following an 'extensive review' by RIBA North, the institute will now merge its regional offices in Newcastle and Leeds in a bid to improve its member services.
As a result, the Tyneside branch will shut its doors at the end of the year.
According to an RIBA spokesman, the move will help both regions prosper and strengthen. He said: 'The economies of scale that result from this office reorganisation will positively enhance RIBA North's regional member services.'
The AJ understands the decision will lead to the creation of a new post of head of strategic partnerships, which will be based in RIBA North's region, and will 'interface with and influence local and regional decision-makers'.
RIBA North's members will continue to be represented by a directly elected regional council.
Peter Buchan, the executive director of Newcastle-based practice RyderHKS, admitted the local branch had been struggling for some time. He said: 'The Newcastle office has been working against the odds, being under-funded and lacking senior leadership.'
He added: 'I would rather see the operations consolidated if it means that these issues will be addressed and RIBA actually becomes a force to be recognised in the regions.'by Richard Waite