Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment

Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment
Abbreviation CABE
Formation 1 August 1999
Extinction 2011
Type Government architectural advisory organisation
Legal status Quango
Purpose/focus Public architecture in England
Headquarters One Kemble Street, Holborn, WC2B 4AN
Region served England
Chief Executive Richard Simmons
Main organ Board of Commissioners (Chairman - Paul Finch OBE)
Parent organization Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government
Website CABE

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) was an executive non-departmental public body of the UK government, established in 1999. It was funded by both the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Department for Communities and Local Government.



CABE was the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space in England. Its job was to influence and inspire the people making decisions about the built environment. It championed well-designed buildings, spaces and places, runs public campaigns and provides expert, practical advice. It works directly with architects, planners, designers and clients.


CABE's board members - its commissioners - were appointed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. There were 16 commissioners in total. Its chair was Paul Finch, one of Britain's leading design businessmen and a former chair of the Design Council. CABE's chief executive was Richard Simmons.

One of CABE's main functions was design review - expert independent assessments of building schemes at an early stage. CABE reviewed schemes of national importance, that had a significant impact on the local environment, or which set standards for the future. CABE's design review panel consists of around 40 expert advisors drawn from England's architectural, built environment and creative community. CABE is known as a 'non-statutory consultee' in the planning process, meaning that planners and others should heed CABE's advice when making decisions, but are not obliged to do so.

One Kemble Street

CABE's main office is situated in a large tower block built in 1968 (and designed by Richard Seifert) near Drury Lane.


CABE is the direct successor body to the Royal Fine Art Commission, originally established in 1924. CABE was established in August 1999. It came about from the Urban Task Force set up in 1998, chaired by Richard Rogers. A proportion of CABE's function, including Design Review and Localism & Planning, merged with the Design Council on 11th of April 2011 (Design Council CABE is a Chartered Charity).

CABE's first Chairman was Stuart Lipton who was also Chief Executive of the property developer Stanhope. Private Eye's architectural correspondent complained that this represented a conflict of interest.

Former commissioners

Kemble Street


CABE set up a dedicated design review panel to provide expert advice on the quality of designs for the government’s proposed eco-towns. The panel reviewed the proposals for: Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire; Rackheath in Norfolk; North-West Bicester in Oxfordshire; and St Austell in Cornwall.[1]

CABE launched a campaign to push for greater investment in green infrastructure. The Grey to Green campaign and report, Grey to Green: how we shift funding and skills to green our cities, argues that a switch is needed in public spending from grey projects, like road building and heavy engineering projects, to green schemes, like street trees, parks, green roofs and waterways.[2] [3]

It has developed the Building for Life scheme and Manual for Streets.

Other regions

CABE's remit did not cover Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The equivalent body in Scotland was Architecture and Design Scotland, the successor body to the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland. The equivalent body in Wales was the Design Commission For Wales. The successor to CABE, Design Council CABE, is able to operate internetionally and nationally.


In 2010 the Government announced that it would withdraw public funding from CABE, at this point CABE's Design Review and Localism & Planning functions Merged into a new organisation with The Design Council, Design Council CABE. This successor organisation is a chartered charity and as in the transition from the Royal Fine Art Commission to CABE, the combined organisation has a much reduced staff and whilst it continues its Design Review and its Localism and Planning role, a review is being conducted into the organisation and its role in delivering the emerging proposals for the planning system. Design Council CABE

See also


External links

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