Memorandum by the Office of the Deputy
Prime Minister (CAB 01)
1. This memorandum aims to provide the Committee
with information relevant to its inquiry into the Role and Effectiveness
of the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment.
The note comprises general background information, followed by
information on the specific points highlighted by the Committee
as issues it wishes to address.
2. The Commission for Architecture and the
Built Environment (CABE) is an executive, non-departmental public
body established in 1999 by the Department of Culture, Media and
Sport (DCMS) as the successor to the Royal Fine Arts Commission.
DCMS is the principal sponsor Department for CABE.
3. CABE's purpose is to promote high quality
architecture and design within the built environment, raising
standards and providing advice and expertise to all those who
create, manage, maintain and use the built environment. It aims
to improve both the buildings and the spaces between them.
4. The Office of the Deputy Prime Minister
aims and objectives are set out in its Public Service Agreement.
The focus is on delivery: making a difference to people's lives
by delivering effective programmes to help raise the quality of
life for all in urban areas and other communities. This focus
is encapsulated by the primary purpose of the Office to create
5. The Sustainable Communities Plan,
published in February 2003, provides the starting-point for a
wide-ranging programme of action in support of this purpose, and
two subsequent reports
have described progress in delivery, outlined further challenges
and described how they are being addressed.
6. Supporting policy activity includes Planning
Policy Guidance Note 1 published in 1997 that states that
"good design should be the aim of all those involved in the
development process and should be encouraged everywhere".
The Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and the draft Planning
Policy Statement 1 (Creating Sustainable Communities) on which
the Government has just completed consultation, have reinforced
these aims. The Government is keen to see that the role of design
quality is widely recognised as the key to securing sustainable
development and has placed design at the heart of planning system.
7. Following the findings of the HMT-led
cross-cutting review of public space and the recommendations of
the Urban Green Spaces Taskforce (Green Spaces, Better Places,
May 2002), the publication of Living Places: cleaner safer,
in October 2002 set out Government's vision and programme of action
to achieve better quality local environments.
8. Living Places signalled Government's
intention to establish a national champion for urban green spaces.
ODPM invited CABE to set up a new unit, CABE Space, in the belief
that expanding an existing agency into which green spaces work
could be integrated and complement existing activities, was preferable
to creating a separate agency.
9. In support of its aim of creating sustainable
communities and delivery of public service agreements, the Office
has adopted five strategic priorities, as follows:
Delivering a better balance between
housing supply and demand by supporting sustainable growth, reviving
markets and tackling abandonment.
Ensuring people have decent places
to live by improving the quality and sustainability of local environments
and neighbourhoods, reviving brownfield land, and improving the
quality of housing.
Tackling disadvantage by reviving
the most deprived neighbourhoods, reducing social exclusion and
supporting society's most vulnerable groups.
Delivering better public services,
by devolving decision-making to the most effective levelregional,
local or neighbourhood.
Promoting the development of the
English regions by improving their economic performance so that
all are able to reach their full potential, and developing an
effective framework for regional governance taking account of
the public's view of what is best for their area.
10. The Sustainable Communities Plan recognises
the importance of improving how we build and what we buildand
the role that raising design quality should play in transforming
communities and reversing the legacy of neglect. Improving the
delivery of high quality design has an important role to play
in the achievement of the Office's overall aim, and strategic
11. The Sustainable Communities Plan set
out a role for CABE in raising the quality of communities through
earlier and better attention to design and urban design. To create
lasting solutions the ODPM recognises that the realisation of
better quality design must be at the heart of policy and delivery.
This will require greater attention to architecture, landscape
architecture, urban design and spatial planning and the management
and maintenance of the built environment.
12. Therefore, in support of the delivery
of Sustainable Communities Plan objectives, ODPM jointly funds
CABE by way of grant under Section 126 of the 1996 Housing Grants,
Construction and Regeneration Act, and under Section 153 (1) (rr)
of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.
13. CABE's corporate strategy Transforming
Neighbourhoods published in August 2004
sets out core priorities for the period 2004-052006-07,
and provides the context for the funding agreements between CABE
and ODPM and with DCMS, as well as bringing together the shared
priorities of the respective Departments.
14. ODPM recognise CABE as an important
agent in implementing key elements of departmental policy and
in implementing the commitments made in the policy initiatives
identified in paragraphs 4-12 above. In particular CABE will assist
Championing and promoting the value
of good urban design amongst decision-makers, industry, practitioners,
professionals and the communityhighlighting the benefits
of well designed public buildings, spaces and places.
Developing a robust evidence base
highlighting the benefits, and the value, of good design, and
identifying policy that will assist its delivery.
Working with partners to deliver
better design quality in urban growth areas, and in the housing
market renewal pathfinder areas.
Delivery of the urban renaissance
by ensuring the design skills required within the key professions
are available, and that equal opportunity exists within the professions.
Assisting Government in meeting its
commitment to create a high quality public realm, including a
network of parks and diverse green spaces, and our wider goal
of cleaner, safer, greener public spaces.
15. Thus ODPM's grant is provided to deliver
a specified programme of works that assists with the achievement
of Departmental policy and relates to CABE's core functions. Prior
to the publication of the Sustainable Communities Plan, ODPM initially
provided (£0.71 million) funding to CABE in 2002-03 for a
small programme of work. ODPM and DCMS share the core costs of
the organisation, and Table 1 below sets out funding over the
three years from 2003-04 to 2005-06.
CABE RESOURCES: 2003-042005-06 (£
*2005-06 figures are provisional
16. The ODPM funding agreement is complementary to that
of the sponsor Department, DCMS, and sets out a number of strategic
outcomessome of which are shared with DCMS:
A1. An enhanced awareness of the need for, and a
greater focus on achieving, good quality architecture and urban
design among clients, professionals and the community at large.
A2. Development of a comprehensive evidence base
that (a) can be used to readily demonstrate the social, economic
and environmental benefits of good design, particularly good urban
design, and (b) which tests and understands public attitudes and
needs, and which together can form a sound basis for policy and
A3. Working with a range of partners throughout England
to ensure the delivery of better quality design in the built environment.
B1. Enhance awareness amongst the general public
and professionals of the importance of good quality parks and
green spaces and increase the number of volunteers involved in
improving their local green space (shared with DCMS).
B2. Help to develop and deliver policy, and commission
and publish research series on parks and public spaces.
B3. Support and enable local authorities and other
providers of parks and green spaces to deliver better green spaces
through development of a strategic approach. In particular to
target all those local authorities without green space strategies
and increase the number of local authorities with functioning
green space strategies.
C1. To see an increase in the number of skilled practitioners
in key built environment professions and greater design knowledge
and confidence among decision-makers (shared with DCMS).
C2. To test if the use of urban codes should become
a common-place mechanism as part of the masterplanning process
in the promotion of new residential development within the land
use planning system and in relevant land transactions.
17. Examples of the programmes of work that CABE has developed
to achieve the strategic outcomes set in the funding agreement
include the following areas.
18. Growth Areas: CABE are positively engaged to support
government and local delivery partners to ensure that high design
quality is achieved in growth areas. With English Partnerships
and the Housing Corporation, they have established a Housing Quality
Forum for the Growth Areas. The Forum brings together key players
involved in commissioning and procuring new housing to share best
practice, learn from partners and innovate practice across the
regeneration and development industry.
19. CABE has also worked with the House Builders Federation
and Civic Trust on Building for Life, the campaign promoting design
excellence through engagement with housebuilders to champion best
practice. The initiative organises workshops and training, and
has developed an award to mark high standards (including design
quality) in volume development.
20. CABE Space is also working with many of the local
authorities in the growth areas, as well as others, on developing
a strategic approach to their green spaces.
21. Housing Market Renewal (HMR): CABE are working with
the HMR Pathfinders on a one-to-one basis providing support on
all issues relating to design and the urban environment. Design
is a crucial part of the HMR agenda to avoid the mistakes of the
past and ensure that high quality buildings and environment are
created in existing low demand areas. CABE also run a Design Task
Group, that brings together English Heritage, HMR organisations
and Local Authority teams to share best practice.
22. Skills: Earlier this year the Deputy Prime Minister
welcomed Sir John Egan's review Skills for Sustainable Communities
and announced that ODPM would be taking forward its key recommendation:
to establish a new National Centre for Sustainable Communities
Skills. CABE have been working closely with ODPM to develop the
detailed proposals for this Centre.
23. CABE plays a key role in the wider skills agenda,
helping to raise urban design skills across the built environment
sector, and working closely with other Government departments
such as the Department for Transport to ensure that cross-Government
agendas are addressed.
24. An early outcome of CABE Space has been a review of green
space skills that will lead to an action plan that encourages
the sector to work together in developing the necessary skills
to delivery revitalised spaces. There will be links between this
sector specific work and wider strategies to improve skills.
25. Green Space: CABE Space was established in May 2003
to champion public spaces, with an initial focus on parks and
green spaces. Its objectives are to champion the need for good
quality public space, develop the evidence base on the value of
green space and support delivery of good quality green space.
26. CABE Space are also helping to develop and deliver
policy through developing evidence via research and good practice.
This takes forward many of the recommendations identified in the
Urban Green Spaces Taskforce report.
Current research is examining the link between quality and expenditure,
the economic value of green space, alternative models of management
and resourcing and the link between the quality of public space
and anti-social behaviour and a good practice guide on greenspace
and housing market renewal and growth areas.
27. In supporting delivery CABE Space are working with
local authorities and other providers of parks and green spaces
through an advisory service to develop strategic approaches to
green spaces. They have also undertaken a review of the Green
Flag Award Scheme, which recognises excellence in green space
management, and of the skills in the green space sector, which
will influence the ability to deliver our green space objectives.
OF CABE'S DESIGN
28. Non-statutory consultees have an important role in
contributing specialist advice to local authorities on planning
applications. The Royal Fine Art Commission (RAFC) was a non-statutory
consultee for the purposes of providing advice on design related
matters. Following the winding up of the RAFC, ODPM determined
that CABE should become a non-statutory consultee in place of
29. In May 2001 a letter (see Annex A) was sent to all
Chief Planning Officers outlining the role that ODPM envisaged
for CABE. Projects that CABE are consulted upon are not of a singular
style, nor limited to the major urban conurbations, but the role
set out that regional and local projects are an important consideration,
and that a wide range of areas are covered including "deprived
areas, suburbs, small towns and villages".
30. In line with CABE's remit, schemes reviewed by CABE's
Design Review Panel reflect the Government's concern to ensure
that the planning system is used as a tool to improve design quality
of buildings, spaces and places. Of more than 480 cases reviewed
by the panel in 2003-04, a wide variety of schemes came under
consideration including residential and mixed-use buildings, as
well as retail, office, community and public buildings. The Design
Review Panel also undertook a number of reviews of masterplans.
31. The Design Review process is primarily about achieving
better quality places through ensuring that the constituent parts
such as the housing, public buildings, streets and urban spaces
in a town add up in a way that makes sense for the community that
32. A key element of the Design Review Panel is to disseminate
lessons to a broader audience. The review magazine, Design
Reviewed, was distributed with Planning magazine reaching
approximately 16,000 planning officers. This makes a valuable
contribution to ensuring that well informed consideration of design
becomes a primary consideration of planners across the country.
In addition, lessons from the Design Review Panel on Residential
Development, Town Centre Retail and Masterplanning have now been
written up and are helping to reinforce the principles of the
Government's Planning Policy Guidance notes, especially PPG3 Housing
and PPG6 Town Centres and Retail Development.
33. CABE is one of three main non-departmental agencies
receiving funding from ODPM in the field of built environment.
Their roles and remits are complementary:
English Partnerships: the national regeneration
agency, helping the Government to ensure efficient land use and
Housing Corporation: overseeing the regulation
of Housing Associations in the provision of high quality, affordable
housing that meets local needs.
CABE: raising the quality of architecture and
design within the built environment.
34. CABE, English Partnerships and the Housing Corporation
collaborate on a number of projects including work to bring together
design standards, and on ODPM's urban design coding pilot programme.
35. In working to ensure that design quality is embodied
in delivery programmes CABE also work with a wider range of national,
regional and local agencies. In particular, ODPM has charged CABE
with the responsibility to work with partners to deliver better
design quality in housing growth areas, and in the housing market
renewal pathfinder areas. These activities are expanded in paragraphs
36. Other areas relevant to ODPM priorities include the work
CABE has been doing to build effective relationships with house-builders,
local authorities and training providers amongst others. Through
sponsorship of campaigns such as Building for Life, jointly with
the Civic Trust and the House Builders Federation, CABE works
in a practical manner to promote design quality amongst the volume
house builders who are responsible for the major proportion of
37. The CABE Space Advisory Service works with local
authorities to develop strategic approaches to managing their
green spaces, drawing on the expertise of an advisory panel. CABE
also works closely with local authorities through their training
programmes in urban design for Transport Engineers, and through
work to support local authority Design Champions. In doing so
they have so far worked with over half of England's local authorities
to improve the quality of the built environment through advice
and training at all levels of these organisations.
38. CABE's enabling programme also has been working closely
with health trusts, education authorities and police constabularies
among others, ensuring that procurement policies and design outcomes
39. CABE Space is supported by a Steering Committee, which
includes the CABE Space Strategic Partners: Groundwork, Greenspace,
Institute of Leisure and Amenity Management, The Landscape Institute,
Community Development Foundation, and the Improvement and Development
40. CABE has a three-year funding agreement with its
sponsor Department, DCMS, and a separate funding agreement with
ODPM. The ODPM agreement runs to the end of the 2004-05 financial
year. Once spending review allocations are known later this year
a new financial agreement between CABE and ODPM will be prepared.
41. CABE's principal purpose is to promote a better quality
built environment in England. In this respect it has and will
continue to have a close relationship with the delivery of the
Sustainable Community Plan aims and objectives, and thus with
42. CABE is also envisaged as playing an important role
into the future in helping to secure the success of recent policy
commitments shared across Government.
43. For example, as part of the theme of improving neighbourhoods,
CABE Space will be an important partner in helping ODPM deliver
its Public Service Agreement target (PSA8) to lead delivery of
cleaner, safer, greener public spaces. It is our intention that
the unit should eventually broaden its remit to consider all public
space but the current priority remains urban green spaces.
44. Jointly with DCMS, ODPM has developed work with CABE
over the past two and a half years. This shared relationship of
two Departments with a non-departmental public body is uncommon.
However, this has brought benefits in joining up policy agendas
whilst minimising administrative burdens.
45. A recently completed independent stakeholder evaluation
demonstrated that, in the short time that CABE has been in existence,
CABE has become an effective and well respected organisation that
is making a difference.
46. CABE has also been instrumental in assisting with
the delivery of key policy priorities. Evaluation of progress
against targets shows steady progress, whether in the number of
local authority Design Champions, take-up of training programmes,
or increases in the number of parks being awarded Green Flag
status. ODPM therefore strongly supports CABE's role.
Sustainable Communities: building for the future, published
by ODPM, February 2003. Back
Creating sustainable communities: Making it happen: Thames
Gateway and the Growth Areas, published by ODPM, July 2003,
and Making it happen: The Northern Way, published by ODPM,
February 2004. Back
Living Places: cleaner, safer, greener published by ODPM,
October 2002. Back
Transforming Neighbourhoods published by CABE, August
The Egan Review-Skills for Sustainable Communities-published
by ODPM April 2004. Back
Green Space, Better Places-final report of the Urban Green Spaces
Task Force published by DTLR 2002. Back
CABE Stakeholder Review conducted by Office of Public Management,
March 2004. Back
The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by the Civic Trust, is a
voluntary scheme that recognises excellence in the management
and maintenance of parks and green spaces across England and Wales. Back