RIBA calls for design adviser

The government needs to appoint a chief built environment design adviser answerable to a Cabinet Office minister who can work across departments if it is serious about promoting good design in building, RIBA is claiming.

In its contribution to the call for evidence from Sir Terry Farrell’s government-commissioned review of architecture in England, RIBA says overall responsibility for architecture policy should be taken away from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

The architects’ body also says the government can lead by example and reform public procurement and land disposal so that there is greater emphasis on delivering good design outcomes.

It wants the government to conduct a design quality audit across the property development industry and be prepared to legislate if necessary to ensure good design is included in areas like private housing, where RIBA claims there has been real “market failure”.

It also wants to see a design quality task force set up to overview policies like the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the Priority School Building Programme to ensure design quality is sufficiently recognised.

RIBA president Angela Brady said: “Government must embrace good design as a core component of their thinking. In order to make that change across government we need an ambitious and forward-looking vision with a built environment policy and a minister in the Cabinet Office overseeing the work. There should be a professional expert answerable to this minister. And most importantly government needs to intervene. Where the market fails to provide choice, innovation or basic levels of quality, the government should take steps to help the industry overcome the barriers to design quality and where necessary, regulate to insist upon it.”

The review’s call for evidence has now closed.

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