Local authorities told to use in-house architects for designs
The Department of the Environment has told local authorities that they must rely on their own architects, those working for other local authorities or the National Building Agency (NBA) to design any new social housing schemes from October 1st.
The revised arrangements, notified to local authorities last month, have been interpreted by private sector architects as a way of denying them commissions to design social housing – although this was denied by a source in the department. A circular letter, issued at the direction of Minister of State for Housing Michael Finneran, gives local authorities three options of implementing new projects approved by the department under the much-reduced social housing investment programme.
They must either “utilise available in-house professional services to provide the required planning, design and management services for the project” or “enter into a shared service agreement with another authority to provide the required services”. The only other option given to the local authorities is to “engage the NBA to provide the required planning, design and management services for the project, including the procurement of such additional professional services as may be needed”.