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CABE plans to expand and to promote quality housing

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The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment is to embark on a new phase of expansion and wants to concentrate on education, architecture centres and technology, with a special emphasis on housing.

cabe chairman Stuart Lipton said that he wants to expand the current four-member team to around 12 and persuade his dcms paymasters to raise its paltry £1.5 million budget to £15 million inside two years. He said he hopes these measures will help tackle an ambitious programme to push the importance of good housing.

'The Peabodys, Guinesses and Rowntrees all do wonderful work and we'll be working with Corus to try and lend our support and help the debate,' he said. 'Housing is a new area in design review.'

The idea, said Lipton, is to 'lead by example' on 'demonstration' projects, rather than attempt to tackle the product currently coming from volume housebuilders.

Lipton wants also to begin an outreach education programme to spread the message of the value of good design, and said cabe and the detr is just about to commission a study into that subject as quickly as it can find a likely organisation to conduct it. This may try and 'prove' the connection between well-designed hospitals and recovery rates or schools and academic achievements, for example. 'It's very difficult territory,' he said. 'We're looking to see who's most competent to carry out research for us and to try to find out how to go further.'

That message, about showing that what good architects produce is good value, will be one of the tasks for the commission's new chief executive Jon Rouse. Rouse, formerly the secretary of Lord Rogers' Urban Task Force, was appointed last week and will join cabe on 1 October. Richard Butt is the acting chief executive for the interim period.

Lipton said he chose Rouse from a shortlist of five because he is 'knowledgable, charismatic, experienced and enthusiastic' with a useful background at English Partnerships and the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, where his last post was private secretary to the minister for housing, local government and urban regeneration.

'Jon's role is to lead the campaign to enthuse people to be better clients and choose better architects and help manage the progression of cabe into a bigger orbit,' added Lipton. 'He'll build the team and take us further down the track. We've had a very good start and we're now working well with government and they're being very supportive.'

'Helpful' departments include education, health the National Audit Office and HM Treasury.

Lipton's crusade for funding is also geared towards increasing the network of architecture centres. He cites other better-funded industries, such as film, despite every person's life being affected on by the buildings they inhabit. cabe is also set to appoint three project officers for project enabling, regional activities and design review.

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