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Ministers set for talks on chief architect role

Culture minister Ed Vaizey is to meet new housing and planning minister Brandon Lewis over proposals to appoint a new national chief architect

The creation of the new post was one of the 60 recommendations of Terry Farrell’s Review of Architecture and the Built Environment, published in March.

Farrell said the chief architect should report to both the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), and  the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), and would mirror the existing posts of chief planner and chief construction adviser.

Other recommendations included the establishment of ‘PLACE’ reviews – standing for Planning, Landscape, Architecture, Conservation and Engineering  - of existing high streets, housing estates and hospitals. Farrell also proposed ‘urban rooms’ in every town and city that would be a focus for residents to ‘understand and debate’ the history and future of the area.

As part of a House of Lords debate on the review on Monday, business minister Michael Bates – who is a government spokesman for a range of departments including DCMS – confirmed that Vaizey and Lewis were set to discuss Terry Farrell’s recommendations.

‘Terry Farrell has proposed the preparation of a draft manifesto for a PLACE Alliance, perhaps basing it on the model of the Creative Industries Council, and of discussion papers on taking forward recommendations on proactive planning; digital engagement; urban rooms … education, future cities, heritage, and an international forum on architecture,’ he said.

‘I know that [Ed Vaizey] is committed to helping Terry make the connections he needs within government to take specific things forward.

‘For instance, he intends to discuss with the new minister of state for housing and planning … the Farrell Review recommendations on the appointment of a chief architect, a PLACE leadership council and design review panels for infrastructure projects.

‘He will also liaise with UKTI on the Farrell review recommendation on the creation of a global built environment forum.’

Bates added that he believed proposals for a select committee on architecture and the built environment were under consideration by the chairman of committees.

The debate was called by Labour peer Baroness Janet Whitaker, who is a RIBA honorary fellow and  vice-chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Design and Innovation.

Vaizey commissioned the review from Farrell last year.

Readers' comments (1)

  • The RIBA are not engaging with the UK architects profession. Only 16.7% of RIBA members voted in the recent RIBA election. In polls between 72% and 84% of UK architects want 'Protection of Function of Architect' to protect the UK public and improve the built environment. Neither of the RIBA presidential candidates had 'Protection of Function of Architect' in their manifestos. The RIBA and UK government need to take note of the views of architects.

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