Chairman's Report April 2012
At our last meeting of Regional Council and at the subsequent Open Forum, RIBA members identified three key areas which are causing concern: Procurement, Planning and Design Review.
Our new Forums enable members in the East region to learn what the RIBA is doing about various aspects of practice but also to share information and experience and to feed that back into the RIBA's policy section, to ensure that practical concerns are properly heard. The Forum on Procurement was brought up to date with current procurement issues for Architects, including both financial and legal perspectives, and we heard about the RIBA's new policy document on Procurement issues from the Chair of the drafting group, which we had an opportunity to influence – though it seems to be on the right lines already! It was a useful and informative afternoon, especially for those seeking work in the education sector.
At the Council meeting, there was much anxiety about what the National Planning Policy Framework would produce – now we know! The NPPF (we must get used to the new acronym and forget PPSs and PPGs) has certainly made some changes and the next Forum will explore the implications while, we hope, keeping the RIBA informed about its evolution in practice and any need for more 'technical guidance'. It seems likely that changes to the planning system have not yet been completed and that the RIBA will continue to need members' input based on real experience. Too often in the past, changes to the system have brought unforeseen and unintended consequences which have added to delays and costs overall.
The NPPF does clearly push forward the concept of Design Review. This is widely supported by members and is regarded as a 'win for architecture' by the RIBA. Our Regional Council's support was raised at the following RIBA Council meeting and (I understand) gave rise to a lively debate. Some further detail (and perhaps some re-education) may be needed but we also want to know how successful design review panels work in practice. Tell the Regional Office and experiences will be passed on.