Leaked letter confirms CABE closure

Government design watchdog CABE will close with just 20 of its remaining 70 staff being transferred to the Design Council, it has emerged in a letter leaked on the net.

The letter from culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg revealed the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) will "extend the Design Council's remit to cover architecture and the design of the built environment by altering its Royal Charter and import from CABE a limited number of its staff to give the Design Council the necessary expert capability."

DCLG will fund the Design Council until 2013, the letter states.

It said: "In this way important elements of two leading bodies in design would come together, so giving local communities greater opportunities to have their say on how their areas should look and feel in the future.

"The Design Council would be strengthened by bringing in the valuable skills, knowledge and expertise from CABE to create a one-stop shop, providing a service to industry, councils and local communities.

"Without the prospect of further funding for CABE from other sources, I propose that the remainder of CABE should be wound up and the organisation will be dissolved and, if necessary, its property, rights (including those relating to employees) and functions may be transferred to other organisations (including the Design Council) using existing powers under CABE’s governing legislation, the Clean Neighbourhoods and Environment Act 2005.

"The general proposal has been agreed in principle by ministers in all three departments affected, and the only matter for which clearance is being sought is for CABE’s dissolution."

Landscape Institute president Jo Watkins welcomed the move:

"CABE and especially CABE Space made a major contribution to the creation and maintenance of good quality public space. We are pleased that the new organisation will be committed to continuing this work. We campaigned specifically for this merger and we are happy at the outcome. This will provide an excellent basis for the new organisation to champion good architecture and great landscape."

The letter does not detail whether CABE Space will continue its function or retain any dedicated staff within the restructured Design Council. Both CABE and the Design Council were unavailable for comment.

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