Headlines: November 20th, 2000

A clear signal that Best Value is not just about cheapest cost comes in new thinking from the Government about the quality of new public buildings.The Government says that lowest cost without a concept of value has been the curse of Britain’s public buildings.

Poor buildings are often more expensive to run and maintain in the end. On a less tangible note, they also fail to encourage ‘a sense of civic well-being.’

Arts Minister Alan Howarth told a Private Finance Initiative conference in London: “It takes courage to invest in quality. I have great sympathy with anyone struggling to justify a quality – but dearer – tender. But public buildings built cheaply are not always economical or practical over their full life.

“In contrast, good design can bring more than financial benefits. In a well designed hospital patients recover more quickly. In a well designed school patterns of behaviour are better. Well-designed housing estates suffer less from crime and vandalism.”

The Minister also outlined Government plans to ensure architectural merit is central to the procurement process. In each Government department with leading responsibility for public buildings a Minister has been appointed as design champion.

Better Public Buildings is available at www.culture.gov.uk