CABE and the Design Council confirm merger
11 February 2011
CABE and the Design Council have confirmed they will merge from 1 April, following an agreement reached by the two bodies and government.
The new organisation will speak with one voice to support a broad spectrum of design, architecture and public space. It will be government’s advisor on design in business innovation and the built environment.
It will provide a ‘one stop shop’ for design support and advice to industry, communities, central and local government encompassing a range of services already provided by both the Design Council and CABE.
The organisation will have a particular focus on achieving good design at a local level. The chair of CABE, Paul Finch, said it will place architecture ‘at the heart of the economy as a driver for competitive businesses and places’.
CABE’s design review service, which provides expert advice to councils, developers and communities through reviews of major proposed projects, will continue at a national and local level. Promotion of the value of good building and spatial design to businesses and communities will continue. There will be a strong focus on securing good design in neighbourhood planning.
The merged organisation will continue to provide mentoring and advice to business and public services on the strategic use of design. High profile design challenges will develop innovative solutions to national issues in health, security and sustainability
Advice will be given direct to government on the value of design and support for the design sector via an expanded body of experts drawn from industry, design, architecture, public services and education.
Kevin McCloud, presenter of Channel 4’s Grand Designs, said: "Design and architecture increasingly overlap as our built environment gets more complex. Interior designers, lighting and product designers and specialists in graphic, landscape, urban planning and retail design all make a significant contribution to how our world feels and functions.
“I'm looking forward to seeing one central body of excellence working with communities across Britain, helping to promote and share the ideas that make our homes, workplaces and means of transport work better and more sustainably and helping to make brilliant architecture and memorable, distinctive places. There is a lot to do."
The Design Council name and status as a Royal Charter charity will be unaffected, and it will cease to be a non-departmental public body (NDPB) from 1 April.
A new governance structure will be put in place to deliver the organisation’s new broader remit. This will include a significantly expanded council drawn from a range of disciplines and specialisms in design, government, business and education.
The merger will save public money and provide scope for additional industry investment. The Design Council will continue to be financed through a combination of sources, including grants from the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), confirmed until April 2013.
The new organisational structure for the Design Council and roles for CABE staff will be confirmed once staff consultations have been completed.
Some background to the merger: The government’s Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) in October 2010 saw massive reductions across the public sector. Although CABE had passed the Public Bodies Review, it was unable to continue as a stand-alone organisation following unexpected withdrawal of funding by the Department of Culture. The Design Council had also had a tough time in the CSR, and the two chief executives concluded that joining the two organisations could create one that was stronger as well as providing a single voice for design and the built environment. The decision to go ahead with the merger was taken by government.