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Wright calls for institute fees hike - 'members can afford it'

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RIBA council member John Wright has called for a big increase in membership fees at the RIBA, claiming that architects can afford to pay more as a result of the strong economy.

He said that the RIBA could follow the lead of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, which has increased fees by £50 per person. If the RIBA did this then the cost for a corporate member with more than five years' experience would rise by 21 per cent, to £287 a year.

'The business environment in the South East is very buoyant at the moment and this is an opportunity to properly revise the subscription rates, ' Wright said.

The call came as RIBA chief executive Richard Hastilow revealed plans to pump £3 million into capital projects during the next three years.

Hastilow won approval from the RIBA's ruling body to establish a £2 million loan facility as part of the plan to improve the institute's headquarters and services to members. 'I am proposing we move faster, 'Hastilow said. 'We need to make some significant improvements and we are talking about the services the institute provides to members. This is a range of capital projects and to do this we need to borrow some money.'

He described the institute's current strategic plans as 'rudimentary' and 'quite conservative'.

There is a growing sense among senior RIBA members that there has been underinvestment in the fabric of the Portland Place headquarters, information technology and areas such as the preservation of the photographic collection.

The RIBA currently has no 'free cash reserves' but Hastilow is predicting that the RIBA will break even by the end of the current financial year, despite earlier fears of a loss.

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