Regulator says client was also given wrong advice on planning consent and asbestos

An architect has been reprimanded by the professional regulator for failing to enter into a proper written agreement with his client in relation to a project to refurbish a Victorian flat in a conservation area.

The Architects Registration Board

The Architects Registration Board’s Professional Conduct Committee this month heard three allegations against Peter Bell, of London practice Peter Bell & Partners, whose previous projects have included bespoke luxury homes and work on Capital Radio’s Shaftesbury Avenue headquarters.

Bell was alleged to have given inadequate advice about the need for planning permission for work on a building in a conservation area and on the removal of asbestos at his client’s flat. He was also alleged to have failed to properly set out his terms of engagement in a way that satisfied the requirements of the Architects Code.

Bell denied the allegations, which dated back almost two years.

The PCC found that while Bell had given inadequate advice on the planning application and the removal of asbestos, his failings on each count were not so serious as to amount to unprofessional conduct.

However it said Bell was guilty of unprofessional conduct in relation to his terms of engagement.

“While Mr Bell had provided his client with a number of documents before starting work, they did not meet the requirements of the Architects Code and were misleading in that they included out of date information concerning fee scales,” it said.

“Given the importance of providing accurate and comprehensive terms, it represented a standard of conduct which fell short of that expected of an architect.”

The committee said that a reprimand was considered to be the appropriate sanction in light of mitigating factors that included Bell’s good disciplinary history, his engagement, inisght and remedial steps he had taken.

However the PCC noted that Bell had failed to recognise the “deficiencies in his terms of engaement” until the day of the hearing.