Public spaces body appoints comms head

The Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE) has appointed its first head of communications as it embarks on a campaign to broaden the debate about England’s public spaces by involving the public.

Matt Bell has been appointed director of policy and communications from Voluntary Services Overseas, where he was communications director for the past five years. He will report to CABE chief executive Jon Rouse, overseeing a department of 16 staff.

The ‘Wasted Space’ campaign, which will be launched on 15 September, is the first part of a three-year consumer campaign aimed at generating public debate about the state of buildings and urban spaces in England.

In the three years since its establishment, CABE has concentrated its efforts on architects, central government and local authorities with the aim of encouraging better design, but will now shift its focus to the public, said Bell.

‘CABE will be acting as a catalyst to get people at a local level involved in voluntary organisations,’ he added.

‘Right now, most people expect the worst. Often they assume any new development will either be ugly, too expensive or dehumanising.

‘We want to get people to the stage where they are not blaming others, such as their local authority [for badly-designed and derelict spaces], but to get them involved and saying: “I could do something to change that”.’

CABE’s strategy is to galvanise public debate on the state of design in housing, parks and public spaces, as well as buildings in general, so the public demands better design from providers of roads, car parks and buildings.

CABE is an executive non-departmental public body funded by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Bell’s brief at CABE is to manage the organisation’s communications strategy as the last member appointed to the senior management team.

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