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

CABE is the government’s advisor on architecture, urban design and public space in England. Its job is to influence and inspire the people making decisions about the built environment. It champions 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 - are appointed by the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport. There are 16 commissioners in total. Its chair is Sir John Sorrell, one of Britain's leading design businessmen and a former chair of the Design Council. CABE's chief executive is Richard Simmons.

One of CABE's main functions is design review - expert independent assessments of building schemes at an early stage. CABE reviews schemes of national importance, that have 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.

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.

CABE is the successor body to the Royal Fine Art Commission, originally established in 1924.


CABE Activities

CABE has 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 will review the proposals for: Whitehill-Bordon in Hampshire; Rackheath in Norfolk; North-West Bicester in Oxfordshire; and St Austell in Cornwall.[1]

CABE has launched a new 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]

Other regions

CABE's remit does not cover Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. The equivalent body in Scotland is Architecture and Design Scotland, the successor body to the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland.


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