Memorandum by CABE (The Commission for
Architecture and the Built Environment) (CAB 02)
1. THE ROLE
1.1 CABE was set up by the first Secretary
of State for Culture, Media and Sport in 1999 with the mission
to promote high quality architecture and design within the built
environment. CABE's vision is of a country that by 2010 will lead
Europe in understanding and harnessing the ability of great buildings
and spaces to transform neighbourhoods, to generate social value
and to sustain economic growth.
1.2 CABE was set up because of the growing
recognition that the quality of the built environment has a significant
impact on improving educational standards, providing better health-care,
reducing crime and creating a better quality of life for the English
1.3 CABE is now jointly funded by the Department
for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and the Office of the Deputy
Prime Minister (ODPM). The sponsorship arrangements are with the
DCMS. As at 31March 2004, CABE comprised a team of 16 commissioners,
appointed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport,
and 82 staff appointed by CABE itself.
1.4 CABE Commissioners are drawn from across
the spectrum of built environment professions (architects, planners,
urban designers, landscape architects), the arts and marketing.
They are appointed for a four-year term and serve for a maximum
of two terms. All commissioner posts are advertised in the national
1.5 Income for the year 2003-04 totalled
£11.25 million, with £10.88 million coming from the
two key funding departments of DCMS and ODPM. The balance arises
largely from service level agreements with other government departments,
agencies and non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs).
1.6 DCMS funding of CABE flows from the
Department's priority areas of fostering the cultural and sporting
life of children, young people and the wider community, and boosting
the contribution of the cultural sector to the economy. In 2003-04
DCMS made £3.53 million available to CABE, all as core funding.
This has risen in 2004-05 to £4.03 million.
1.7 ODPM funding of CABE is closely linked
to delivery of the Sustainable Communities Plan, announced in
2003. Through this funding agreement, ODPM made £7.35 million
available to CABE in 2003-04, which is rising to £8 million
1.8 The funding agreement identifies a number
of key government objectives to which good design is central.
These include public sector procurement of new schools, hospitals
and other civic buildings; planning policy, housing growth, and
housing market renewal; the creation and maintenance of high quality
public space; and skills. The majority of CABE's activities feed
directly into these objectives, as set out below.
1.9 Procurement of public buildings
England is currently experiencing the largest
public building programme for a generation. The public sector
is the single largest client of construction, and across government
total capital budgets have been steadily increasing, from £19.2
billion in 2000-01 to £32.4 billion in 2003-04. This building
programme represents a unique opportunity to create world-class
facilities from which to provide world-class public services.
1.10 Research from the UK and abroad demonstrates
clearly how an early investment in design quality can deliver
social and economic value. In hospitals it can lead to faster
recovery times, in schools design encourages higher educational
achievement and across the public sector it can aid recruitment
and retention of key workers, such as nurses.
1.11 CABE supports the Government's procurement
programme primarily through its enabling team, made up of architects,
urban designers, property surveyors and town planners. This service
gives clients practical, independent advice on how to commission
high quality buildings.
1.12 Since summer 2000, it has worked on
over 300 projects, ranging from large-scale urban masterplans
to small-scale community buildings. This includes supporting the
creation of primary healthcare buildings, GP's surgeries, and
acute hospital PFI projects, as well as primary and secondary
school projects and nurseries, through our involvement with DfES's
Sure Start programme.
1.13 The enabling team also ensures that
other clients can benefit from CABE's advice by disseminating
the ideas through publications and training; it also improves
the policy, procurement and funding contexts by feeding back issues
to those central government funding departments setting policy.
Through CABE Space, CABE is also centrally involved
in supporting delivery of the Government's "Cleaner Safer
Greener" campaign, and the wider promotion of the liveability
agenda. This is done by helping local authorities improve the
quality of parks and public spaces and their management and maintenance,
and by encouraging the interest and involvement of local communities.
1.15 One of the key tasks that ODPM set
for CABE Space is to help local authorities develop green space
strategies. A good green space strategy will help harness local
political support and funding for improvements to parks and green
spaces. CABE Space helps local authorities with their strategies
by providing advisors, free of charge, who work directly with
their officers or provide training. This is a practical way of
ensuring that national policy and good practice regarding liveability
is understood and implemented at a local level. In its first 15
months, CABE Space has advised 120 local authorities.
1.16 This practical advisory role is supported
by a significant research programme. CABE Space's first research
report, Is the Grass Greener, studied cities around the
world that have become desirable places to live because of their
high quality green spaces, and identified transferable lessons
that can be applied in England. In addition, CABE Space's acclaimed
good practice guide, What would you do with this space?,
provides practical guidance on engaging young people in the planning,
design and management of local space.
1.17 CABE Space has strategic management
responsibility for the Green Flag Award Scheme, the national quality
standard for parks and green spaces. This has proved a highly
effective way of helping local park managers develop their skills.
The scheme is delivered by the Civic Trust, with support from
several hundred volunteers. CABE Space is working with the Civic
Trust to engage every local authority in this scheme over the
next four years.
1.18 In addition, CABE Space campaigns to
encourage the public to get actively involved in the improvement
of the quality of public space. As part of the It's Your Space
campaign, CABE Space published a Manifesto for Better Public
Spaces that highlights the way high quality public spaces
have a positive impact on quality of life and help people become
more active and more engaged in their community. To date, more
than 300 local and national organisations have signed up to the
1.19 In its report to ODPM "Green
Spaces, Better Places" (May 2002), the Urban Green Spaces
Taskforce highlighted that the lack of skills in the green space
sector was a key reason for its long-term decline. CABE Space
has been tasked with developing an overarching strategy to address
this problem, and will be working to deliver this with key partners
in the sector, such as the Institute of Leisure and Amenity Managers
(ILAM), GreenSpace, and LANTRA.
1.20 Housing and Planning
There is a major, long-term government commitment
to increase dramatically the supply of new homes and to redevelop
failed housing stock. As well as taking forward these commitments,
the Sustainable Communities Plan promotes better quality homes.
CABE contributes directly to these objectives of creating more
and better homes by acting as a national champion for design quality.
CABE promotes debate and learning within private industry and
the public sector on how to enhance the design and layout of residential
areas. We also demonstrate what can be achieved (in terms of excellence
and process) through collaboration on specific sites and projects.
1.21 This involves a programme of activities
including: assessment, accreditation and promotion of well designed
housing schemes (through the Building for Life awards); research
and audit of new developments and current practice; training programmes
offered to individual stakeholders, such as highway engineers,
commercial house-builders and housing associations; and collaboration
with key agencies in each of the nine housing market renewal areas
and the four housing growth areas.
1.22 The Planning and Compulsory Purchase
Act 2004 establishes sustainable development as the primary purpose
of planning. CABE has also campaigned to ensure the importance
of good design to achieving sustainable development is well understood
and embedded within the system.
1.23 In this context, CABE's work on planning
policy includes advising on the development of national policy
statements (PPS1, PPS6 and PPS12) to ensure they recognise the
importance of good design, and require high quality development.
Policy work has also involved work on model policies for Local
Development Frameworks and providing information on the role of
Regional and Sub Regional Spatial Strategies in securing good
1.24 In addition, CABE has focused on the
importance of processes that can help to assess design quality.
CABE has been promoting the use of Design Statements to accompany
planning applications and justify proposals, supports good master-planning
and is leading a programme of research and investigation into
the potential of Design Codes.
We believe that the biggest single risk to delivery
of good quality design through the Sustainable Communities Plan
is the shortage of skilled people, and a lack of appropriate skills,
within the sectors responsible for its implementation. Our own
research has shown that there is a very serious recruitment challenge
facing the built environment professions, particularly in areas
such as planning and engineering. There is a fundamental need
to find enough people with the right skills to lead the process
1.26 The Government has recognised and is
seeking to tackle these issues. Our response, through ODPM funding,
has been to create CABE Skills. This is a dedicated and professional
learning and knowledge transfer unit. It focuses on design-related
skills issues across the built environment professions and allied
groups, such as elected members.
1.27 Only in its second year of operation,
the Unit has already achieved outstanding results, delivering
4,500 training days at a satisfaction rating of 94%. Learning
programmes have included a new urban design summer school, training
for highways and transportation engineers, support for the Society
of Black Architects, learning programme for 20 local authority
planning committees, and an urban design "E-Learning"
package for elected members produced jointly with IDeA.
1.28 Because the Unit sits within CABE,
it has been quickly able to establish a very strong presence and
reputation for delivering high quality learning solutions. It
is also able to draw on other CABE resources and provide a "learning
hub" for our clients. In this way, CABE can offer a combination
of enabling assistance, CABE Space advice, Design Review and education
services, backed up by a tailored learning programme, to build
local capacity and leave behind a legacy for future delivery.
Increasingly, this is the way that CABE now operates.
2. THE EFFECTIVENESS
2.1 Five years after its creation, CABE
can give robust evidence of its activities and outputs. These
are quantified and summarised below. We have also recently undergone
a comprehensive independent stakeholder evaluation, which captures
the views of the people we have been working with and for. These
follow the list of outputs.
2.2 Five years is, though, a short time
set against the long cycles of the built environment industries.
Regeneration programmes can stretch over decades. Large building
projects may take years to design and build. Many schemes already
in the pipeline of the planning system will not have been influenced
by CABE. And it takes time to develop skills. We believe, however,
that the evidence below shows how CABE is beginning to make a
very strong and positive impact.
2.3 Since 1999, CABE has delivered:
technical advice in the form of design
review and enabling assistance to approximately 1,400 individual
building projects including arts, libraries, sports, parks, affordable
housing, urban masterplans, schools, hospitals, nurseries, Sure
Starts, primary healthcare facilities, courts, police stations,
offices, retail, business parks and embassies.
those 1,400 projects on which we
have advised have a collective value of over £20 billion,
including just in terms of the public purse, education projects
worth £1 billion, health projects totalling £1.8 billion
and arts buildings worth £0.25 billion.
produced approximately 100 publications,
disseminating guidance and best practice on all areas of the built
environment and reaching all audiences, from school children and
the public to planners and policy-makers.
worked with well 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,
we also have similar programmes for house-builders, housing association,
RDAs, health trusts and police constabularies, among others.
become a definitive public voice
on architecture and the built environment. In its first five years
CABE generated over 5,000 news articles and broadcasts and we
currently average 17,000 website visits every week.
started to make a significant impact
to young people's education, building an education network with
almost 900 members and producing educational resources for every
age group from Key Stage 2 to A' Level.
CABE Education has also spearheaded
the Joint Advisory Committee on Built Environment Education, a
working group across DfES and DCMS. Recommendations from JACBEE
are to be released imminently and will mobilise a range of partners
to focus and join up effort in this important area.
supported and extended a network
of 16 architecture and built environment centres around the country,
engaged in community participation, young people's education,
project advice and skills development. Collectively, their current
geographical reach is approximately 25% of the English population.
On average, every £1 that CABE
gives the architecture and built environment centres attracts
over £4 in match funding. CABE's ambition is to extend the
reach of the network to two thirds of England's urban and rural
population in the next five years, by encouraging the development
of a further nine centres. England is a world leader in this field
and the network enjoys excellent international links.
2.4 Stakeholder review
In autumn 2003 CABE commissioned an independent
360° review to collect the opinions of its external and internal
stakeholders. The key points of that review give a clear picture
of what our partners and audiences (including central government,
local government, NGOs and built environment professionals) really
think of CABE:
Impressions of CABE are overwhelmingly
positive. 94% of those interviewed expressed overall satisfaction
with CABE in terms of their dealings with the organisation. 92%
are satisfied with CABE's performance in terms of building relations
with their organisation and 82% expressed satisfaction with CABE's
ability to work in partnership.
CABE is seen as being a young, dynamic,
innovative, intelligent, professional and highly motivated organisation.
CABE's good networks within central government are widely felt
to be a real strength.
Staff are extremely positive about
CABE; they feel valued and excited about working there. The wider
CABE family is also very positive with three-quarters strongly
agreeing that working with CABE is rewarding.
CABE's publications are respected,
with its practical guides being particularly well received and
demonstrably used. CABE's website is also widely praised.
Design Review is highly regarded.
77% of the clients using the service altered their design in the
light of CABE's comments.
CABE's enabling assistance is also
very well received: 85% of clients that responded valued the assistance
and 75% felt that CABE's support will mean a higher quality building
or project at the end of the process.
3. CABE'S DESIGN
3.1 CABE delivers its work through six separate
programmes. The design review programme is one of these, employing
eight of CABE's 82 staff. Given the Select Committee's intention
to explore this area specifically, more detail is submitted below
to explain its purpose and activities.
3.2 CABE's design review programme offers
free advice to planning authorities and others on the design of
selected development projects in England. It is particularly interested
in strategic projects in their early stages"strategic"
encompassing not only projects of national importance but also
those which have a significant impact on a local environment,
or set standards for future development.
3.3 Proposals which have come to Design
Review Committee in the last six months, for example, include
the new Royal London Hospital at Whitechapel in East London; a
masterplan for Nottingham Eastside, a large regeneration area
adjacent to the city centre, including retained historic buildings;
Wakefield Orangery, a new arts project adjacent to a listed building;
and Liverpool Central Station, a large mixed use project which
proposes substantial new city centre residential accommodation.
Copies of letters sent by CABE summarizing our comments on two
such proposals are attached in the appendix.
3.4 The Design Review programme aims to
improve the design quality of projects by offering authoritative
advice from acknowledged experts. This has been shown to be an
effective way of improving design quality: in CABE's recent stakeholder
review, 87% of those receiving advice were satisfied with the
process, and 77% of schemes were altered in the light of the advice
3.5 A letter from (the then) DETR to planning
authorities of 15 May 2001 (included in the appendix) sets out
the criteria for consulting CABE. These may be summarised as:
Proposals which are significant because of their
size or the uses they contain: eg large buildings or groups of
buildings such as courts, museums or galleries, hospitals, retail
and office buildings, infrastructure projects and major changes
in the public realm.
Proposals which are significant because of their
site: eg proposals which affect important views or sited in such
a way that give rise to exceptional effects on their locality:
(a relatively modest proposal can therefore be of strategic importance
because of its site).
Proposals with an importance greater than their
size, use or site would suggest: eg proposals which are likely
to set standards for future re-development, or proposals which
are out of the ordinary in their context or setting.
3.6 CABE wants to contribute to the quality
of the built environment in the widest sense. The consultation
letter makes it clear that CABE's interest is not limited to "landmark"
developments and covers, for example, housing developments and
projects which have the potential to enhance the quality of people's
3.7 CABE's design review programme advises
on several hundred cases a year (480 in 2003-04). There are approximately
660,000 planning applications a year in England of which about
16,500 are categorised by ODPM as "major". With the
resources at the programme's disposal we have a choice between
offering light touch, strategic advice on a larger number of schemes
or getting more involved in fewer, and we have chosen the former.
3.8 Nevertheless, the demand for advice
from CABE's design review programme exceeds the capacity available,
and the number of requests for advice has increased steadily year
3.9 CABE encourages consultation wherever
possible at an early (pre-application) stage, since by the time
a proposed development reaches the planning application stage,
the scope for influencing its design may be severely limited.
3.10 CABE's design review programme is operated
by members of its professional staff overseen by the Chairman
of the design review committee, who is a CABE Commissionercurrently
Les Sparks, an architect/planner with substantial local government
experience at senior level. CABE's design review committee (DRC)
is made up of about 30 experts from different fields. They include
architects, planners, urban designers, landscape architects, engineers,
a housing regeneration specialist, an estates and facilities manager,
a developer, an archaeologist, and an artist. There is an annual
turnover of membership and the fields represented are kept under
review in response to feedback that we receive.
3.11 Many DRC members and Commissioners
are actively involved in major projects and some of these fall
to be reviewed by the DRC. CABE makes no apologies for this state
of affairs as we do not believe there is any other way of achieving
the calibre of expertise required of the Committee. CABE has always
had systems in place that seek to ensure absolute probity. Since
the independent audit by AHL Ltd, commissioned by the Culture
Secretary and published in June 2004, these have been stringently
reviewed and further tightened to ensure that CABE has strict
controls in place to deal with any potential conflicts of interest.
3.12 Schemes are reviewed in one of three
ways: 1) at monthly full meetings of the DRC, chaired by one of
a group of six CABE Commissioners; at these meetings, schemes
are presented to the committee by their promoters and representatives
of the local authority and English Heritage are always invited,
and usually attend; 2) at fortnightly internal meetings with DRC
members; or 3) at weekly officer-level review meetings chaired
by a CABE Commissioner.
3.13 The selection of schemes on which CABE
will comment, and at which of the above levels this will happen,
is made by CABE staff in consultation with Commissioners. Schemes
are allocated to the three tiers above in accordance with defined
and published criteria (set out in the appendix). The most significant
schemes are seen at the monthly meetings and the next most significant
at the fortnightly meetings.
3.14 Project evaluations are based on professional
judgements, rather than a tick box score. Projects are always
reviewed in the round, deliberately looking at the bigger picture.
Consequently, our advice about projects usually focuses more on
how projects will work and relate to the wider area than on questions
about architecture and what schemes look like. It is rare that
architectural style is an issue in our discussion of projects;
we believe that what matters is quality rather than style, and
that a number of different architectural approaches are likely
to be valid in any given situation.
3.15 CABE is fortunate in having access
to an extraordinary level of knowledge and expertise through the
members of its DRC, who are not paid for the work they undertake
for CABE. Consistency is achieved by scrutiny of draft written
advice by a number of people. On major projects, written advice
is subject to approval by the director of the design review programme
and the Chairman of the DRC.
3.16 Between them they seek to ensure that
advice is consistent with advice given on comparable projects
or issues. Specific CABE policies are set out in writing in documents
such as the following:
Guidance on Tall Buildings (published
jointly with English Heritage)
Building in Context (advice on new
buildings in historic contexts, published jointly with English
Protecting Design Quality in Planning
Design Reviewed: Masterplans
Design Reviewed: Urban Housing
Design Reviewed: Town Centre Retail
3.17 There is considerable heritage expertise
on CABE's staff team, the design review committee and the Commission
itself; the Chair of the Design Review Committee, Les Sparks,
is also a Commissioner of English Heritage; and CABE and English
Heritage liaise on casework as well as at a strategic and policy
level on a regular basis.
4. CABE'S EMERGING
4.1 CABE's work to date reflects built environment
priorities of the past five years. In particular CABE has focused
on particular projects and programmes where there has been a real
lack in skills, information or quality control, or where there
has been significant public expenditure. These areas of work are
still important to CABE, but the impact of our work, experience
and learning to date has prompted us to develop a new corporate
strategy in 2004 called "Transforming Neighbourhoods".
4.2 We chose to focus on the concept of
neighbourhoods for two reasons: firstly, because compact and coherent
neighbourhoods are the building blocks of successful towns and
cities. Secondly, because of the need to ensure that the major
programmes of public and private investment in the built environment
which are now underway deliver a legacy of thriving neighbourhoods.
4.3 In that context, CABE is now progressively
targeting its work on neighbourhoods in transition. To date, we
have focused most of our efforts on towns and cities. We will
continue to work here but increasingly we will extend our focus
to areas of low and high demand, managing the process of growth
4.4 CABE will also continue to champion
and celebrate the value of great architecture. We remain absolutely
committed to the creation of outstanding buildings and spaces
which lift people's spirits, drive urban renewal, provide best
value for money, and reinforce the global reputation of Britain's
4.5 Under the neighbourhoods theme we have
organised our work into five priority areas:
what makes a good neighbourhood;
the learning neighbourhood;
the healthy neighbourhood.
We see urban design as the glue that can enable
the individual components to become, collectively, greater than
the sum of the parts, and fine architecture as a source of cultural
inspiration and expression.
4.6 CABE's regional strategy
One of the pivotal dimensions of this new strategy
will be our work at a regional and sub-regional level. It is intended
that this strategy translates into a responsive and reflexive
model that assesses local character and need, then seeks to match
itwithin available resourcein a way that adds most
value to these local priorities.
4.7 In most cases this is achieved through
our support to Architecture and Built Environment Centres (ABECs),
a network of Regional Representatives and a Regional Pilot Programme.
CABE's Regional Development Programme also has a coordinating
and mapping function, ensuring a balanced spread of CABE's activity
right across the country.
4.8 In practice, our Regions Programme will
deploy the following resources:
A network of 21 Regional Representatives,
respected and trusted experts in their fields, employed part time
as consultants to act as CABE's "eyes and ears" and
ambassadors in every Government Office region (except London where
other resources are made available).
A Regional Funding Programme which
delivers £1.5 million of grant aid to16 ABECs, plus the Architecture
A pioneering programme of six Regional
Pilot Projects that aim to create regionally or sub-regional models
of networking, capacity building and service delivery.
A new grant programme operated in
partnership with Arts & Business that is providing £0.5
million over two years to develop innovative ways for the work
of artists to inform built environment design and planning processes.
4.9 An essential function of the Region's
Programme will be to co-ordinate CABE's work at the local level
with a wide range of other agencies. This is a fundamental part
of our strategy to build local capacity within any given area.
4.10 We achieve this in part through a
system of Client Relationship Management. This provides a single
point of contact at CABE for each area, agreeing our strategy
and work programme. This allows us to provide an efficient and
co-ordinated service to a large number of clients in different
urban settings across the country at the same time.
4.11 CABE is also extremely careful to maintain
a balance of activity across the English Regions. The vast majority
of our work is outside London. The Client Management process allows
us not only to tailor make individual packages for different areas
in the most meaningful and efficient way we can, it also allows
us to achieve a good spread of activity within current resource
across the whole country.
4.12 Pilot Programmes
We are in the process of establishing at least
one Pilot Programme in each of the Regions, including London.
These programmes tackle different areas and issues in ways that
play to the character and nature of need in each place, going
with the grain rather than trying to impose a solution. We have
so far established six Pilot Programmes, with a further four at
4.13 The Pilot Programmes are a physical
expression of CABE's new focus on "Transforming Neighbourhoods",
in that they work to improve and connect the whole neighbourhood,
stimulating a real sense of place, rather than focus on an isolated
issue. The programmes each currently have a life-span of two years,
in accordance with our own funding cycle. In some areas, CABE
is likely to work beyond that two year period, but this approach
does allow us to be fleet of foot and move resources where they
are most needed.
4.14 The biggest pilotDesign East
Lancashireis based in the offices of Elevate East Lancashire
Housing Market Renewal Programme in Colne. Working across the
sub region, the scheme has its own programme of learning; physical
demonstration projects, such as terrace conversions; and reassessment
of the area's identity and image. In addition it is coordinating
the input of other CABE services to the area in an intensive way.
This project is a "testing ground" of CABE's vision.
We believe that this is one of the most challenging areas in England
and deserves a special focus to deliver a higher quality of life
for local people.