Paul Finch will move with 20 staff to Design Council, but future of brand will be consulted on
The Cabe name may be dropped as part of its incorporation into the Design Council, which was finally signed last week.
David Kester, chief executive of the Design Council, who will run the merged body, said the question of whether to retain Cabe’s brand was “one of the things we need to consult on.” The question has immediately raised concerns from architects that Cabe’s influence will be lost.
The news came as details of how the body will work emerged. Paul Finch, chair of Cabe, will move across to the new body, but it is unclear as yet what his job will be. He will be joined by 20 former Cabe staff, who will be engaged primarily in conducting design reviews and continuing the body’s “enabling” work - design consultancy for other public bodies on major projects.
Cabe’s budget within the merged body will be cut from the £11.6m core grant received in 2009-10, to just £2.75m a year until 2013, when funding is likely to cease. The number of design reviews it carries out will also fall.
Kester said that come April, when the new, fully merged, organisation is set up, it would be consulting on how it should continue its work once the funding runs out.
He said: “I’m looking forward to an in-depth conversation with all parties on how this will work. Issues such as how design review works and whether it can generate conflicts of interest - these are exactly the things we need to discuss.”
He went on to say: “At the moment I’m not ruling keeping the Cabe name in or out. There’s no question we’re going to surprise anyone imminently by dropping it, but it’s one of the things to discuss collectively as we’re developing a long-term future.”
The merging of Cabe with the Design Council, welcomed this week by the RIBA, is aimed at creating a single organisation promoting architecture and design to all parts of the UK economy. Outgoing Cabe chief executive, Richard Simmons, said he was looking at whether the new body would have a role helping the development of neighbourhood plans envisaged by the coalition.
Simmons said the cut to Cabe’s funding at the Comprehensive Spending Review, which precipitated the crisis at the body, had been “upsetting.” He said: “We felt it was a great shame, and a move that created a great amount of uncertainty for our staff and customers. But now it feels that something great has potentially come out of it.”
Ken Shuttleworth, Cabe commissioner and founder of architect practice Make, said he supported the merger, but was concerned about the possibility of losing the name. He said: “I think it’s a very strong brand. Why would you change it? I think it’s important it stays.”