Headlines: October 23rd, 2007

Public bodies are being urged to have the courage and confidence to invest more in good design as they come to terms with new funding settlements. CABE – the Commission for the Built Environment – says positive investments are even more important.

The call came as the Commission, the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space, published its annual report. In it, CABE warns of the dangers of short-term cost savings and stresses the potential for good design to improve public services.

Chief Executive Richard Simmons said, “Faced with serious financial decisions, it is even more important to make positive investments in good design and gain the multiple benefits of durable, functional, beautiful buildings.”

CABE believes its work in the last year has shown that investing in good design can add value while failing to invest in it can have serious costs. During 2006-07 it provided advice and practical support direct to 75 local authorities and to every delivery team involved in the housing growth and market renewal areas. Top of its agenda for the year were education, streets, housing, and sustainable design and it says its performance figures reflect this with 130,000 pupils benefiting from design advice to their schools.

As a result of CABE’s secondary schools audit, which found the design quality of most newly built schools was not good enough, the Government asked it to establish a schools design assessment panel and it has set the target of engaging 50,000 young people in learning about buildings and places. In the end it reached a figure of 82,193 for the year, through initiatives such as How Places Work.

During the year requests for CABE publications soared to more than 330,000, almost doubling its target of 170,000, and it delivered 3,800 training sessions against a target of 2,000.