Ed Vaizey, the shadow minister for culture, has claimed he would save CABE from a Tory ‘bonfire of the quangos’ but again promised to kill off the Architects’ Registration Board (ARB).
Speaking to leading architectural practices at the AJ100 Breakfast Club, Vaizey (pcitured) said that ARB, the government-funded body that has regulated the architectural profession since 1997, was a ‘working example’ of how organisations can focus on self-preservation ‘whether or not it is in the public’s best interest’.
The shadow minister said he thought the RIBA could regulate the profession on its own and that this could ‘bring a small annual cost saving to all architects’.
Vaizey dispelled rumours that the Tories would axe the government’s advisory body on architecture, CABE: ‘I am a huge fan of CABE and hold it in part responsible for my architectural education,’ he said.
Speaking of his support for CABE, which was established in 1999, the shadow minister also repeated the possibility of a ‘chief architect or a chief designer’ to advise the government, saying it could provide a ‘public face’ and a force that would drive into ‘every department the point about good design and good architecture’.
However, the shadow minister raised concerns about the ‘design function’ of the Home and Communities Agency (HCA) and said there was scope for a debate to ensure CABE and the HCA ‘don’t overlap’.
Although Vaizey’s comments were generally well received, one delegate at the breakfast said he would take some of the grander claims ‘with a pinch of salt’.
Meanwhile Neil Murphy, Nightingale Associates’ London office principal, said: ‘There would need to be a lot of groundwork undertaken in order for Ed Vaizey’s suggestion of appointing a Government/chief architect to be successful and beneficial to all parties.’
He added: ‘At present, ARB is a central governing body that acts for all architects on the whole – any individual role replacing this would need to be fully representative of the profession.’
An ARB spokeswoman said: ‘Mr Vaizey is welcome to visit us so that he can hear first hand what ARB does under the Architects Act 1997. Our chair will be extending an invitation to him, which we hope he accepts so he can make an informed judgment about our responsibilities.’