Design review and enabling role will continue if ministers rubber-stamp bodies’ merger agreement

Ministers are poised to approve a merger of Cabe and the Design Council in a bid to ensure key services of the axed architecture quango survive.

Both bodies agreed a merger in principle late last week, but ministers at the communities department and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, need to approve the deal.

If rubber-stamped, the merger will see Cabe’s design review function continue, alongside its “enabling” role of providing design advice on major projects to other public bodies. Its best practice and training work will not continue.

The Design Council promotes British industrial design. A source said the aim was to create a “one-stop shop for design, with expertise on buildings, products, places and services under one roof.”

Cabe is currently funded by government to advise on 350 major schemes and it is thought some of this funding may continue. Cabe’s future was put in doubt after the DCMS, one of its two departmental funders, axed its budget in the October comprehensive spending review.

Architects welcomed the news. RIBA immediate past-president Sunand Prasad said the merger made a lot of sense. “This is a good way of snatching victory from the jaws of defeat,” he said.

The board of the Construction Skills/CITB has also been meeting to discuss its future. Its £187m industry skills levy was threatened when the government suggested the body might be privatised in its review of quangos over the summer.

A source close to the discussions said the CITB was confident they had convinced the government the levy was an essential part of its service provision.