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Wednesday30 July 2014

Fresh questions over Arb's future as MP intervenes

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Conservative’s Neil Carmichael calls for Arb to justify existence

Fresh questions have been asked about the future of the Architects Registration Board after a Conservative MP called on the government to justify the need for the organisation.

Stroud MP Neil Carmichael raised the issue with communities secretary Eric Pickles last week, asking him to make a statement on the organisation’s future. He was told that a routine review of the Arb will take place next year.

Stroud MP Neil Carmichael

Stroud MP Neil Carmichael

“I’m wondering why it is that [the Arb] is necessary really?” Carmichael told BD. He said his question was intended to start a debate over the future of the Arb and that he would pursue the matter again when the scheduled review takes place in 2013.

Carmichael said his question had been prompted by a complaint from a constituent about the need to pay Arb fees to practise as an architect.

The Arb was established by an Act of Parliament in 1997. Carmichael said that as a membership organisation in receipt of fees, it should be required to justify its existence.

The exact nature of the constituent’s complaint about the Arb is confidential. But leading members of the profession recently called for the organisation to be abolished after it asked BD not to refer to Renzo Piano and Daniel Libeskind as architects.

RIBA Gold Medal winner Colin Stansfield Smith and former RIBA presidents Sunand Prasad and George Ferguson were among those who questioned the need for the organisation, suggesting that its functions could be carried out by the RIBA.

The damage caused to the organisation by its request was raised at a recent Arb meeting, when board member Hans Eisner described the incident as “very embarrassing”.

Alison Carr, chief executive at the Arb, told board members: “We will be coming back to the board in February to discuss what is the best way of engaging with the press.

“I would like to stress that it’s a very tiny part of the work we do. The vast majority is about cases where individuals or firms are holding themselves out as architects.”

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Readers' comments (25)

  • The ARB isn't a membership organisation. It's a statutory registration body.
    A membership organisation would have the following characteristics.
    "It is established for the purpose of providing services on a non-profit basis to its shareholders or members who own and control, monitor or regulate it."
    Architects do not own, control, monitor or regulate the ARB.

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  • Yes, and as the statutory body responsible for implementing EU law on architects' registration, ARB is ultimately answerable to Government, i.e. you and me.

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  • What is the point of ARB?

    ARB has no policy for raising public awareness of the meaning of 'Architect',
    ARB has no policy for dealing with use or abuse of the title in the media,
    ARB cannot control mis-use of the title 'Architect' on the internet,
    ARB is struggling to protect the use of the title 'Architect' by a significant number of non-registered architects
    ARB cannot sanction practices which bring the profession into disrepute as a result of actions by their non-architect owners.

    ......and yet ARB feels justified in imposing a 23% increase on the annual fee for registration. Why?

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  • Munter Roe

    The purpose of the ARB is to 'protect' the public.

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  • Mike Duriez

    ARB's role is as follows. It protects the public from "architectural designers"* who pretend to be "design architects"**, and from "architectural consultants"* who pretend to be "consultant architects"**. (**=protected title, *=unprotected title).

    My guess is that the ARB architects who have done Part III mostly understand this difference. But the man in the street has sadly no idea of this.

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  • I am ARB registered, but am not, and do not wish to be a member of the RIBA; RIAS; RIAI or whatever. If the ARB goes, and the title Architect is to remain protected, is it seriously being suggested that in order to call oneself an Architect one must become a member of the RIBA instead?

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  • The irony of an MP asking others to justify their existence.

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  • Shave, yes that is correct.

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  • Why do the public need protecting from 'Architectural Designers'? What about Architects who are not working as Architects but continue to pay the fee and fumble a few CPD hours together in case they get spot checked. We work with adequate designers from whom the public need no protection and yet a previous colleague who has an education, but no experience, is allowed to and continues to call himself an architect, but works in admin in insurance.

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  • Munter Roe

    I worked long and hard to get chartered. The unknowing public should be made aware of the benefits of using me as oppose to some CAD jockey or building surveyor who pushes 'architectural services'. God knows they will get charged the same fee, might aswell have the quality service.

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