Ben Derbyshire slams ‘inexplicable’ lack of architectural expertise on new board to police house building industry

An industry body tasked with setting up a new ombudsman for home buyers has been criticized for having a lack of architects and design experts among its top team.

The New Homes Quality Board (NHQB) last week announced its chief executive, chair and several board members as it prepares to launch a new ombudsman service to enforce its new design code later this year.

Ben Derbyshire

Source: Tom Campbell

Ben Derbyshire believes more design expertise is needed on NHQB

However, Ben Derbyshire, the former president of the Royal Institute of British Architects and a Housing Today columnist, was critical of the make up of the top team. He said the absence of people with a design background is “inexplicable”.

Derbyshire said: “Design in British housing, especially speculative mass housing, is generally very poor.

“The exceptions to this represent the minority of housebuilding and renovation but these exceptions should become the rule. Good housing architects are notably absent from housebuilding and that is never going to change so long the profession is not represented on the NHQB.”

The NHQB board does however include Nicholas Boys Smith, an academic who founded the campaigning charity Create Streets and chaired the government’s Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission.

The NHQB last week announced former chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, Leon Livermore as its new chief executive.

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Network Rail board member Rob Brighouse has been appointed chair of the organisation, replacing founding chair Natalie Elphicke.

It also appointed three board members. These are Naomi Connell, an experienced audit committee chair and chief finance officer; Curtis Juman, finance director at Ofcom and a board member at PA Housing, and former local government senior officer Paul Price, who oversaw the New Homes Quality Board’s procurement of the Ombudsman service provider last year.

A NHQB spokesperson said: ”The development of the code was subject to a full public consultation, and the appointment of the New Homes Ombudsman has been subject to full open procurement processes.

“The new board appointments have been made following a publicly advertised and professionally managed recruitment process, and include a mix of representatives from consumer bodies, housebuilders, warranty providers, lenders and independents, which ensures it will not be dominated by any one group.”