Call for Evidence - Review of Architectural Regulation

Closes 8 Nov 2021

Opened 16 Aug 2021

Overview

Ministerial Foreword

 

The United Kingdom’s architectural sector is one of the best in the world – with first-class educational institutions, world-leading practices and a healthy export market. The United Kingdom also has a vibrant small and medium sized enterprise (SME) sector who operate at local level to ensure that the places where we live, work and play suit our communities.

The challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of putting placemaking at the heart of design, ensuring that we build communities where people can truly thrive and succeed. Our ambition to reach Net Zero carbon by 2050 has furthered the need to embed sustainability into design principles when considering our approach to the built environment. In conjunction to the challenges we face, we must also heed the whole system of Building Safety issues which have been exposed and to fundamentally ensure that regulation protects the public. For levelling-up to become a reality we must make sure that the profession is inclusive and progressive, which will be vital as we start to deliver the much-needed homes and infrastructure the country needs.

To achieve this vision, we want the profession and the sector to be forward looking, diverse and innovative, challenging the way we think about the built environment and moving the whole country forward through better design. We must ensure that our architectural sector remains world leading as we rise to meet these challenges and we want to make sure that Government provides suitable support to achieve that ambition.

The time is right to have a bigger and longer-term focused conversation with the architectural sector about the purpose of regulation and Government policy in this sector and how they could be improved to deliver a modern, innovative, accessible and diverse profession that delivers better, greener and safer design and construction in the built environment.

We want to identify opportunities to improve and develop the current regulatory framework so it better supports the development and growth of the profession, enhances quality within the sector and is focused on outcomes.

This is a view shared by the Architects Registration Board. Their support in undertaking this Review is welcome.

This Call for Evidence constitutes the first part of that process by gathering the views of the architectural sector on their experiences of what is working well and what can be improved. It will explore regulation, areas for innovation and whether the architectural profession is inclusive. Of course, any amendments to architectural regulation will also affect the wider architectural and construction sector. We want to hear from anyone who works in design, construction or academia and the implications that this may have for your fields.

 

Why your views matter

Introduction

Summary

  1. Regular review of regulations and regulatory bodies is part of Government’s policy on better regulation. As the sponsoring department for the Architects Act 1997 and the professional regulator, the Architects Registration Board (ARB), the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) last reviewed the ARB in 2014 and published the report in 2017. Due to changes arising in the regulatory regime of architects following our exit from the EU, future trade agreements and building safety reform, we are launching this Review  to inform the future for architects regulation in the UK.

 

  1. As the statutory regulator for architects in the UK, the ARB is a key partner to delivering regulatory improvements for the sector. This Review will run in parallel to the ARB’s Competence Review, which is looking at both initial education and training (the competencies required to join the architects register) and what architects should do to maintain competence (particularly through the development of a new statutory CPD system). MHCLG will continue working closely with the ARB throughout the process to ensure that outcomes of these workstreams are joined up.

 

Approach

  1. The Review will gather information and strengthen the evidence base to inform future Government policy on whether the current regulation of architects in the UK can be improved, how diversity and access to the profession can be promoted, and how it can better support better outcomes such as sustainability and innovation.

 

  1. The Review will be open and inclusive. We will consult widely through a Call for Evidence and stakeholder workshops, as well as draw on evidence from experts and stakeholders. We will also utilise desktop research to consider precedent set by other countries and professions.

 

 

  1. We welcome views on our proposals and encourage all those within the architectural industry to inform our final decisions to ensure they are effective. As this consultation will inform future policy development in the architectural and construction sector, the government invites all architects, as well as those involved in the wider education or practice of architecture, to voice their opinions and experiences through this form.

 

  1. The Government will then publish a report on its findings, including any recommendations for future Government policy.

 

 

Background

  1. The Architects Registration Board (ARB) is the statutory regulator of architects in the UK, as established by the Architects Act 1997. The ARB’s key objectives are to protect the users and potential users of architects' services and support architects through regulation. The ARB do this by:
    • Maintaining the Architects Register, a publicly available tool to confirm whether someone is a UK architect
    • Setting the education and training requirements for trainee architects, through the prescription of qualifications, to join the Register
    • Ensuring only appropriately qualified applicants from the UK and overseas join the Register
    • Setting and enforcing the professional standards expected of UK architects
    • Taking action against those who call themselves an architect illegally

 

  1. In the UK, the title of architect is protected. Protection of title means that it is an offence for an individual to call themselves an architect unless they are registered with the ARB. To join the register, an individual must complete all three stages of an architectural education in the UK (Parts 1,2 and 3) or apply to the ARB under one of their international recognition routes. However, there are no restrictions on people designing buildings or undertaking the same type of work as architects, providing they do not use the title in doing so. It is common for an individual to perform the architectural functions  under the title of “architectural designer” or “architectural consultant.”

 

  1. The Building Safety Bill will take forward the Government’s commitment to fundamental reform of the building safety system, following Dame Judith Hackitt’s Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety. The Government plans to make amendments to the Architects Act 1997 to ensure greater competence amongst UK registered architects; provisions will apply to all architects on the register. These amendments seek to improve the competence of architects, primarily through a new ability for the Architects Registration Board (ARB) to define, enforce and maintain the competence of architects on the Register. The Bill will also introduce a power to amend the fee provisions in the Architects Act 1997.  The Architect provisions in the Building Safety Bill sit alongside wider requirements for those carrying out design and building work to have the relevant competence to carry out their role in a way that achieves safe and high-quality outcomes.

 

  1. In January 2020, the United Kingdom formally left the European Union and in doing so, have the opportunity to revise and reform many of our regulatory processes. This opportunity extends to establishing a process for the recognition of international architects independent from EU law and establishing new trade agreements. We intend to use the Professional Qualifications Bill[1] introduced in Parliament in May 2021, led by the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, to allow the ARB to enter into mutual recognition agreements and establish whether international qualifications are deemed equivalent to UK standards. A holder of these qualifications would then be able to register in the UK, provided they meet any compensation measures set by the ARB.

 

  1. The proposals relating to architects under the Building Safety Bill and the Professional Qualifications Bill were consulted on from November 2020. The Government response to this consultation was published on 8 June 2021[2].  

 

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