QSs perform volte-face after twice voting against radical restructuring of the institution.

In a surprise move, RICS quantity surveyors have voted to back the institution’s radical plans to shake up its structure.

At a meeting of the QS division last week, members voted 28 to 10 in favour of backing Agenda for Change – the plan to replace the seven existing divisions with 16 faculties.

The vote follows prolonged opposition from the QS division. QSs were concerned that, under the new structure, they would not have as big a voice in the institution. In a previous submission to the RICS general council, QSs said they wanted only three divisions, one of which would be QS-dominated.

QS division president Neil Pountney said that, although the division had voted to approve the plans, it would continue to fight the idea of introducing 16 faculties. “There is still extreme concern out there. But you’ve got to be part of the club to change things,” he said.

Pountney attributed the QSs’ change of heart to new information provided by the RICS leadership on how the new structure would work and how it would be paid for.

He said: “The council believes that sufficient information has now been made available to give the necessary reassurance that ultimately the reforms that are put to the extraordinary general meeting [in which surveyors will vote on Agenda for Change on 22 March] will be in the best interests of the profession.”

There is still extreme concern out there. But you've got to be part of the club to change things

Neil Pountney

RICS president Simon Kolesar, QS partner in EC Harris, said: “The clear message coming through for the quantity surveyors is that there is substantial support for these reforms. We must now go out to the wider membership and assure them that these proposals will lead to a better, more relevant and more efficient RICS.”

Kolesar will attempt this by hosting roadshows across the country to explain what the changes will mean.

QSs have also been critical of planned increases in subscriptions to pay for the reforms. Under Agenda for Change, subscriptions will rise from £232 a year to £295.

Pountney is backing the rise. “If quantity surveyors want an improved service, then they’re going to have to pay for it.”

The RICS has 100 000 members, of which about one-third are quantity surveyors.

In November, Agenda for Change was challenged by QSs at the general council meeting. But the council voted 69 to nine against a proposal to delay the extraordinary general meeting.