Review recommends Cabe work closely with local and national government to expand influence

The government's architecture watchdog is to expand its design review system through England's regional and local authorities.

The news came as a review into the design watchdog recommended that Cabe should work closely with its government partners to expand the sphere of its influence.

Cabe has been working with the RIBA, the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Landscape Institute to draw up new guidelines for its regional design review panels, to ensure they are advising the right people at the right level.

Land Securities development at Clapham Junction
Cabe recently criticised Land Securities' development at Clapham Junction

Richard Simmons, chief executive of Cabe, said the body had also met with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and with Steve Quartermain, the chief planner, to look at how local authorities can take advantage of Cabe's expertise.

This would allow Cabe to examine potentially 20,000 schemes a year instead of the 500 it is now able to review, as reported by Building in October last year.

Simmons said: “We want to make sure that the quality of reviews that Cabe offers is available to everyone.”

The news coincided with the publication of a light-touch review into the body instigated by the DCMS, the Department for Communities and Local Government and Cabe itself.

The review said that Cabe must work more closely with government at both national and local levels to ensure good design is central to planning decisions.

It praised the influence that Cabe has in the promotion of good design, and said it had made a real difference to the quality of the built environment.

Simmons said that the conclusions of the review had been known about internally for some time, and that many of the body's present activities - such as the work with regional and local authorities - were in line with the recommendations of the report.

He said: “We will of course take on the things that are practical. For example, since the review was done, the Homes and Communities Agency was set up and, together with the RIBA, we were able to ensure there was a statutory requirement for them to provide good design.”

The report also recommended that Cabe work with the Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills (DIUS) to examine the academies building programme being overseen by the Learning and Skills Council.

Simmons said it was examining the ways in which Cabe could work with the DIUS.