Mayor’s advisory body set to continue in a reduced form as Design Council outlines Cabe’s future.
The mayor of London’s architectural adviser Design for London (DfL) looks set to survive the government’s spending cuts.
Following the news that central government quango Cabe will escape abolition through a merger with the Design Council, mayor Boris Johnson’s top architectural adviser Daniel Moylan said he was hopeful that DfL staff would be retained along with its name.
It has also emerged that seven out of around 20 DfL positions have escaped the current redundancy process including DfL head Mark Brearley.
DfL’s parent the London Development Agency (LDA) is set to be wound up in just over a year’s time with the Greater London Authority poised to take over many of the LDA’s functions. But Moylan told BD that all plans were provisional because of a final funding settlement being thrashed out with central government.
He added: “The mayor is keen, if he can, to retain some form of design presence. I think there is a good chance that the name DfL will also survive.
“The mayor will have a regeneration arm within the GLA and we would expect DfL to make a significant contribution to regeneration as it has in the past.”
Meanwhile at Cabe, remaining staff will find out next week who will have a job when the quango merges with the Design Council at the beginning of April.
Around 40 staff remain ‹ down 125 from a year ago ‹ with a total of 20 set to move to the Design Council’s Bow Street offices.
Cabe chief executive Richard Simmons confirmed this week he was stepping down for personal reasons. His deputy Joanna Averley and director of campaigns Matt Bell have already gone and Cabe Space director Sarah Gaventa is also set to leave.
But chairman Paul Finch is expected to retain a role as is Diane Haigh, director of architecture and design review.
Simmons, who said he wants to remain in the regeneration industry, added:
“Some [staff] are going to unemployment, some to academia and others to set up consultancies.”
Cabe has been given £5.5 million in funding from the communities department over the next two years, but Design Council chief executive David Kester admitted he had been told that funds would have to come from elsewhere after that. “The main objective is to create a self-sustaining model,” he said.
Kester said the Cabe name would not completely disappear, with its logo likely to feature on its website. He added Cabe's main functions would be to continue with design review and enabling work. But he admitted it would only be able to carry out a fraction of the 350 design reviews it handled last year.
“Reviews and enabling are going to be at the heart of what we do. It does take Cabe back to its early days,” he said.
Wait is over as government confirms Cabe’s work will move across.
The government has confirmed that architecture quango Cabe is to merge with the Design Council, after weeks of delay.
Housing minister Grant Shapps said he wanted to create a “one-stop shop, providing a service to industry, councils and local communities.”
The announcement was put back two weeks ago in order to secure the permission of deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, because the decision affects quangos working for three government departments.
Grant Shapps said he wanted the merger to allow local residents to have a much greater say over how their communities are designed. He said: “By merging these elements of the Design Council and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment, we can continue to improve the local support that is available for people to do this, and build on the strong track record in offering mentoring, training and support.”
“This merger will not only mean the excellent work the Commission has already undertaken can continue, but will also ensure that every taxpayer’s pound spent on improving design is spent wisely and efficiently,” he added.
The combined organisation will focus on:
- Design Review, which provides expert advice to councils, developers and communities through reviews of major proposed projects
- Promoting the value of good building and spatial design to businesses and communities and, in particular, facilitating well-designed new homes and neighbourhoods
- Mentoring and advice to businesses, public services and university technology offices on the use of design
- High profile design challenges which bring together the best in design, manufacturing and services to develop and introduce innovative solutions to national issues in health, security and sustainability
However, it did not confirm that current Cabe chair Paul Finch will transfer across to the Design Council, as expected. Current Cabe chief executive Richard Simmons will step down for personal reasons.
The Design Council board will be expanded to include a number of current Cabe commissioners, although it is not thought that all will transfer, with the statement confirming that “a new governance structure for the Design Council will also be put in place to equip the new organisation to deliver its new broader remit.”
According to a leaked government documents last week, Cabe will officially be wound up under the merger, with only 20 of the 125 staff it had in 2010 transferring. The Design Council will also lose around 40% of its staff under the move.
Today’s statement said the Design Council will be consulting with CABE staff in the coming weeks to finalise the roles which will continue to deliver the Design Review services, as part of the new organisation. It said these will be confirmed, along with the new organisational structure for the Design Council when staff consultations in both organisations have been completed.
The merger will see the Design Council cease to be a Non Departmental Public Body but retain its charitable status and become an independent not-for profit organisation incorporated by Royal Charter. It will continue to act as advisor and intermediary delivering key services to government. In addition to Cabe’s work, it will now focus on three areas: design demonstration, knowledge networks and design policy advice to government. The target date for the transition is 1 April 2011, subject to agreement by the Privy Council and Charity Commission.
Paul Finch said the merger was a “very positive move” that will “place architecture at the heart of the economy as a driver for competitive businesses and places.” He added: “I am very much looking forward to the combined expertise of our two organisations to coming together to achieve that.”