Ministers and officials want to see design review process and other key functions continue

The government is in urgent discussions with the RIBA and other professional bodies over taking on some of the work of design quango Cabe, which had its funding pulled by the government last week.

The communities department, which had part-funded the body, is leading attempts to find professional bodies to take on elements of its work.Ministers and officials are particularly keen to see the design review process continue.

Cabe’s design review panels examine major schemes and advise on how to improve them.

A source close to the communities department said: “The department is interested in seeing a response from industry as to how some key elements of what Cabe does can be taken on. “Is there a way in which professional and industry bodies can take this on? Promoting and facilitating high-quality design reviews would clearly be part of this.”

The communities department is awaiting the outcome of discussions with the industry before taking a final decision on its funding, but it is not currently examining whether the functions can be delivered by government.

The RIBA is in discussions over how to take on the roles, with the plans likely to be discussed at a meeting of Cabe commissioners, which was held late yesterday. The form of any successor body has not yet been sketched out.

Anna Scott-Marshall, the RIBA’s head of public affairs, said the body was working with Cabe, the communities department, the Royal Town Planning Institute and the Landscape Institute over the issue. She said: “We are exploring if things can be taken on elsewhere.There are some
important things Cabe is doing.”

Wayne Hemingway, the chair of Building for Life, said he was looking at how the housing design standard, run jointly by Cabe and the Home Builders Federation, could be continued.

Most of Cabe’s 125 employees were put on notice of possible redundancy, as it has no funding beyond April.The Architecture Centre Network said it was inevitable some centres would close without government money.