Housing Minister, Christopher Pincher MP, has announced plans to increase checks on architects’ competence in the wake of the Grenfell Tower fire. The government is consulting on proposals to allow the Architects Registration Board (ARB) to set statutory standards of competence for architects.
The move follows Dame Judith Hackitt’s Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety which was set up to learn the lessons of the Grenfell disaster. The review concluded that procedures intended to ensure the fire and structural safety of high-rise residential buildings were not adequate.
The government is now planning to reform the regulatory system by introducing a new Building Safety Bill and by amending the Architects Act 1997.
The proposed changes to the regulation of architects give the ARB the statutory power to require architects to complete any competence checks or Continuing Professional Development (CPD) requirements the Board believes necessary. Although the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) does currently have a CPD system, this does not have statutory backing.
In a separate move announced in the same consultation, the government is consulting on plans to recognise international architecture qualifications following the UK’s exit from the European Union.
RIBA President, Alan Jones, broadly welcomed the proposals, describing the consultation as a ‘milestone’ that will ‘enhance the competence of UK architects’. But he warned that the UK needs “less ambiguous and more ambitious buildings regulations and reform of our deeply flawed construction industry procurement processes.”
The Housing Minister has encouraged architects to submit their views on the proposals. He said the government’s plans “will make sure the people who design the homes we live in and buildings we work in are always guided by the highest safety standards.”
James Burgoyne of Brunel Professions believes that the proposals will help to maintain the high standards and reputation of British architecture. “The UK’s architects are widely recognised for their skill and expertise, with many of the world’s most iconic buildings designed by British firms. These new proposals will help to keep Britain’s architects at the forefront of the global industry.”
The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government has published the consultation, which will run until 22 January 2021, and its press release on the government website. Reports and responses to the consultation have been published by the Architects Registration Board, RIBA, Architects Journal and Designing Buildings Wiki.