Experts fear CABE Space may lose identity without Thrift

The departure of director sparks concern for commission

Parks consultants have expressed concern that green space champion CABE Space is “at a crossroads” following the departure of director Julia Thrift. They fear it may lose its identity and be subsumed into its parent body, architecture quango CABE. Parks Agency director Stewart Harding said: “Julia Thrift was a really good advocate for parks and we are sorry to see her go. We are all pretty nervous to see what this means in terms of CABE’s position on parks. It’s not as though its job is done — it’s just beginning.” Parks consultant Sid Sullivan said: “I think CABE Space is at the crossroads. Funding came from the ODPM — but who will fund it now the ODPM has gone? “I want to see a new set of policies. I don’t see why they do not include taking over the funding of parks. I expect CABE to appoint someone who will not allow parks to be submerged in the sustainability agenda. I think CABE Space as a parks advocate could be lost if it is not careful. I would like to see a better balance between parks and countryside and other areas, such as landscape architecture.” But parks consultant Alan Barber said he expected green-space issues to play a bigger role in CABE. “[CABE chief executive] Richard Simmonds said there will be no disappearance of CABE Space. The signs should be read differently,” he said. “CABE is developing more into an urban agency. CABE Space is really influencing the whole of CABE’s agenda. CABE was never going to stay exactly the same. The concept is right. “CABE needs a more integrated approach because 80 per cent of parks are not in development areas and are not going to be redeveloped in the next 10, 20 or 50 years. It’s important to get a much better-integrated approach, rather than one that is development-led. “CABE is maturing and becoming more of an all-embracing organisation, like the Countryside Com- mission, looking at issues such as climate change.” The DCRG has committed funding to CABE and CABE Space until the end of the spending review in March 2008.

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