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RIBA branded ‘heavy-handed’ in AABC row

The AABC has 'lost confidence' in RIBA following disagreements over the running of the specialist register

The Register of Architects Accredited in Building Conservation (AABC) and the RIBA have fallen out over plans for the institute to take over the running of the specialist register.

The AABC said talks about handing over control of the register to the RIBA had finally broken down after almost three years, and claimed it had lost confidence in the institute.

Since 1999, only members of the AABC qualify for ecclesiastical Heritage Lottery Fund/English Heritage grant-aided work. But Elaine Blackett-Ord, chairman of the AABC, said she feared the RIBA would try to water down entry requirements for the register or even abolish it altogether once control has been passed on.

Blackett-Ord, who branded the institute ‘heavy-handed’, said: ‘The RIBA would not give us acceptable safeguards about the future accreditation or about how they intended to maintain standards.

‘This failure undermines the very function of the register, highlights the RIBA’s lack of commitment to conservation architecture and questions the institute’s stated support for specialisms within the profession.’

The collapse in negotiations ends a six-year relationship with the RIBA. As a result, the existing RIBA AABC 2003 agreement has been terminated and the AABC will operate independently under the name ACCON.

Meanwhile, the RIBA has hit back at the AABC, saying it had wanted to make the current register more ‘open’.

Adrian Dobson, RIBA director of practice, said: ‘[We] wished to develop the accreditation system to make it more transparent and accessible, widening participation in conservation.’

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