Design watchdog to set up Community Interest Company to take on Building for Life business

Doomed design quango Cabe has reached a provisional agreement to continue its housing rating system Building for Life, in the first sign of how the body might continue its work after funding runs out next April.

Cabe has agreed to jointly set up a not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) with the Home Builders’ Federation (HBF) and consultant Design for Homes to take on the Building for Life business.

Building for Life is a 20-point assessment tool for housebuilders and local authorities to rate housing developments, developed by Design for Homes for Cabe and the HBF and in 2002, looked after by a panel chaired by designer Wayne Hemingway.

Sources said the CICs provided a model for how the rest of Cabe’s work might be carried out in future. Cabe already earns money from central government and developers by carrying out Building for Life assessments and training council officials with Barratt, Berkeley and Crest Nicholson all using the system.

CICs are organisations formed to benefit the “community’s” interest rather than generate profit for a person or group. A New Labour invention, CICs are being piloted by the coalition under the “Big Society” banner.

Moves to create the CIC began before Cabe’s funding was cut, but has been given extra impetus by the decision. The source added: “You could see how CICs might be a fairly attractive way in a broader sense of keeping Cabe’s work going.”

A source close to the deal said a CIC was specifically chosen because it would enable the work to continue even if the rest of Cabe was unable to find a form in which to carry on. An announcement over the move is scheduled to be made at the annual Building for Life Awards tonight, with organisers anxious to be able to reassure attendees of its continuing viability. The detail of how the new company will work is yet to be tied down.

John Slaughter, HBF director of policy, said: “We are hoping to issue a statement of intent on an arrangement between the three parties over how Building for Life can be continued.”



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