Culture department responds to Lipton’s call for more money to beef up regional offices.

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment this week received a 130% increase in funding in the Comprehensive Spending Review.

The rise in the Department for Culture, Media and Sport grant, from £1.53m to £3.53m, will come into force in 2002. It follows calls in April by Sir Stuart Lipton, chairman of CABE, for more money to establish a greater regional presence.

CABE acting chief executive Timothy Mason welcomed the extra money, saying it proved that the commission was moving in the right direction.

Mason said: “This opens up the options. We are now going to look at what are the best ways forward and priorities for the commission.”

Mason identified CABE’s regional and educational committees as two areas likely to be boosted by the new money.

Additional staff are likely to be employed in the regions. Regional committee head Les Sparks had complained in April that CABE’s progress had been hampered by lack of staff.

Mason said CABE wanted to work with regional groups to plan the commission’s growth outside London. These will include regional development agencies, cultural consortia set up by the DCMS and architecture centres.

He stressed that work was already under way in the regions. He said: “There’s certainly no shortage of things happening in the regions.”

The funding will be an early boost for new chief executive John Rouse, who starts in October.

Architects welcomed the spending increase. Edward Jones, a partner in architect Jeremy Dixon.Edward Jones, said the move could only be for the good for the profession.

Jones said: “This must give CABE double the influence on good design and good architecture. Stuart and his fellow architects are people of high standing in the sector.”

Jones also agreed with CABE’s plans to disperse some of the money away from London. He said: “This should be used to foster local passion.”

At CABE’s first-year review earlier this month, Sir Stuart also asked the government to take a more positive attitude to architects and architecture in public projects.

… as Ascot asks commission to suggest architects

Ascot, royalty’s favourite racecourse, has asked the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment to suggest young architects to carry out a £70m revamp. The Berkshire racecourse is the highest-profile private body to approach CABE’s new enabling committee, which advises clients wanting to commission high-quality architecture. Ascot, which is trying to shed its élitist image, is planning a major redevelopment to attract visitors on non-racing days. The scheme will include shops, a conference centre and other attractions. It also wants to put into practice masterplanning options drawn up by American firm Skidmore Owings Merrill. These are thought to range from new grandstands to a complete rebuilding of the course.