Architecture champion says lack of resources prevents it from spreading influence across the whole country.
Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment chairman Stuart Lipton has called for more government funding to give the commission a stronger regional role.

Lipton said that the CABE’s plans to establish centres in the regions, led by commissioner Les Sparks, were being hampered by a lack of cash.

He said: “While the Department of Culture Media and Sport has been extraordinarily supportive, it has not been able to find funds.”

The move to establish regional centres is part of the CABE’s desire to ensure that it is seen as a genuinely national organisation. Lipton said: “We are passionate about having a proper regional involvement. This has never happened before.”

A spokesperson for the culture department said that funding for the CABE had already been allocated until 2001/02 and that the department could not speculate on future funding levels.

The CABE’s push to spread its influence beyond London will involve setting up a committee to cover the eight regions of England. Sparks, a former director of planning and architecture for Birmingham City Council, said that the CABE’s aim was also to establish strong links with regional development agencies, regional cultural consortia set up by the culture department, and architectural centres. Sparks said he expected that all the activities in which the CABE was involved in London – commenting on major schemes, enhancing public awareness of architecture and advising clients – would be replicated in the regions.

He said: “Progress to date has been slow – it’s been a question of staff resources. We are now beginning to draw people together from the regions to see how they want CABE to assist them.”

Sparks added: “I think there is an element of laziness that allows people to concentrate on London, but there’s a great deal happening in the rest of the country.”

Barry Shaw, chief executive of Kent Architecture Centre, one of a number of voluntary, regional architectural associations, backed Lipton’s call for cash.

He said: “There’s been a lot of joined-up thinking but the money isn’t following the words. CABE definitely needs regional centres – they have a real role to play.” Abbey Holford Rowe partner Peter Oborn also supported Lipton. He said: “I don’t see how CABE can function without access to the regions.”