Grant Shapps confirms merger of key design organisations

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has today confirmed that two leading bodies in design are to merge their activities on design for housing - giving…

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has today confirmed that two leading bodies in design are to merge their activities on design for housing - giving local communities greater opportunities to have their say on how their areas should look and feel in the future.

Ministers plan to expand the Design Council by bringing in some of the activities, skills, knowledge and expertise from the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment to create a one-stop shop, providing a service to industry, councils and local communities.

The move has the support of leading designers and architects.

In completing this merger, there will be greater opportunities to build on the Design Council’s strong track record of offering independent mentoring and support services to local residents about design issues in their neighbourhoods. And the inclusion of key activities currently carried out by the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment will strengthen the organisation’s role in championing design at the heart of national priorities.

Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:

The design of a neighbourhood can have a significant and substantial impact on the quality of life of its residents. Design can prevent crime and anti-social behaviour, help restore local pride in an area, and ensure that area remains an attractive place for people to live and bring up their families for generations.

I want local residents themselves to have a much greater say over how their communities are designed. By merging these elements of the Design Council and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, we can continue to improve the local support that is available for people to do this, and build on the strong track record in offering mentoring, training and support.

This merger, which has the support of leading experts in the field, will not only mean the excellent work the Commission has already undertaken can continue, but will also ensure that every taxpayer’s pound spent on improving design is spent wisely and efficiently.

Minister for Universities and Science, David Willetts, whose department co-sponsors the Design Council, said:

I’m delighted that we have managed to secure an even better future for the Design Council. The merger with CABE will allow both organisations to enhance their valuable work and I look forward to seeing the results of the new body’s contributions to growth and renewal in the UK.

Tourism and Heritage Minister John Penrose said:

This is a perfect fit. The Commission’s fantastic work in promoting the value of good design of buildings and places and shaping sustainable communities will continue, in partnership with the Design Council’s work putting design at the heart of the economy and acting as a driver for growth. I want to congratulate all those involved in working together to make this happen.

The merger is supported by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud, as well as organisations including the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Kevin McCloud, presenter of Channel 4’s Grand Designs, said:

I think this is one of the most sensible decisions this government has made. The Design Council and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment have complementary skills, are both beacons of excellence and have recently been working in converging areas. Design and Architecture increasingly overlap as our built environment gets more complex. Interior designers, lighting and product designers and specialists in graphic, landscape, urban planning and retail design all make a significant contribution to how our world feels and functions.

I’m particularly looking forward to seeing one central body of excellence working with communities across Britain, helping to promote and share the ideas that make our homes, workplaces and means of transport work better and more sustainably and helping to make brilliant architecture and memorable, distinctive places. There is a lot to do.

RIBA Chief Executive Harry Rich said:

The RIBA welcomes the partnership of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and the Design Council. Both organisations have delivered excellent work to improve the quality of the built environment and champion design across government, and we are delighted that their experience and influence will continue in a new form in support of our shared objective of improving the quality of buildings, communities and the environment.

Lord Bichard, chairman of the Design Council, said:

Now more than ever we need design at the heart of social and economic renewal, and a strong message about design in all its forms. I am looking forward to working with our colleagues at the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment and with a wide range of industry partners to make this a success.

Paul Finch OBE, Chairman of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, said:

This very positive move will place architecture at the heart of the economy as a driver for competitive businesses and places. I am very much looking forward to the combined expertise of our two organisations to coming together to achieve that.

Notes to editors

  1. A review of the Design Council was completed in October 2010 as part of the Government’s reform of the public bodies landscape. The review, chaired by Martin Temple CBE, considered the role of the state as design sponsor and the role of design within social and economic policy. The main conclusion was that there is a compelling case for the Design Council to continue in its role as the national strategic body for design and to champion design in an efficient, inclusive and open form.
  2. The Design Council will cease to be a Non Departmental Public Body (NDPB) but will retain its charitable status and become an independent not-for profit organisation incorporated by Royal Charter. The target date for the transition is 1 April 2011, subject to agreement by the Privy Council and Charity Commission.
  3. The Design Council will continue to act as advisor and intermediary delivering key services to government. In addition to the new areas of activity which it is taking on, previously provided by CABE, its work will focus on three areas: design demonstration, knowledge networks and design policy advice to government. The Design Council will connect both private and public sector services to design, and will utilise the UK’s design capabilities to tackle some of the nation’s biggest challenges such as healthcare and climate change.
  4. The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) is the Government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space. It was created in 1999 as the champion for design quality in buildings, spaces and places across England. It promotes the best in architecture and urban design by promoting high standards in the design of buildings and spaces, advising all those who create, manage and utilise the built environment, and stimulating public debate. CABE is sponsored by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), with additional funding from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). DCMS’s Spending Review announcement on 20 October 2010 announced its funding for CABE would cease after 2011-12.


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