The UK government's Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has concluded that UK architecture should continue to be governed by "light-touch regulation based on protection of title," following the first phase of a review into the future of the Architects Registration Board (ARB). Now, a second phase of the review promises to investigate options to deliver this regulation, determining whether or not it is best achieved by the ARB.
A statement released by the DCLG says that it will now work "with all parts of the profession to identify opportunities to simplify the role of the regulator," with BD Online reporting that the available options including absorbing the role of the ARB into that of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), or to keep the ARB as an independent body - but with the DCLG warned that "it should not be assumed that an independent regulatory body would necessarily have the same form or role as the existing regulatory body."
According to the DCLG's statement, the key focus of the second phase of the review will be "on ensuring a level playing-field for UK architects to compete in the European Union and beyond and supporting consumer protection legislation in a way that minimises the burden for architects and schools of architecture, and avoids overlap with the role of professional bodies."
According to the Architects' Journal, the RIBA has welcomed the initial findings of the review, saying that it hopes to see a reduced role for the ARB, and further highlighting "concerns about the ARB’s handling of professional conduct matters, its role in prescribing/validating qualifications and its 'mission creep'" in recent years
"I want to see effective streamlined maintenance of statutory protection of the title ‘architect’, one that offers value for money for architects, reduces unhelpful bureaucracy for architects and schools of architecture and offer proper protection for the British consumer," added RIBA President Stephen Hodder.
However Owen Luder, both a past President of the RIBA and a past Chairman of the ARB, took to the comments section of BD Online to urge that the ARB should remain a separate body to the RIBA: "Is self regulation of the profession politically possible in the present climate - Bankers and MPs?" he wrote. "The costs of regulation would have to be met by the RIBA [and] added to the present high subscription for those who chose to be members - and those who practice but choose not to be members?"
The results of the second phase of the review will be announced in early April.