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Director-General Of Designservices

Volume 959: debated on Monday 4 December 1978

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asked the Secretary of State for the Environment (1) whether he will make a statement on the progress of the programme of work of the design office of the director-general of design services, as given in an answer by the Under-Secretary of State on 24th January 1977; which of these projects has now proceeded to tendering or construction stage; what is the anticipated completion period of each; and what additional commissions have been awarded to the design office since that reply;(2) whether the establishment of the design office of the directorate-general of design services has reached the target of 100 originally programmed for the autumn of 1977; what is the exact current complement; and how many are achitects;(3) whether, following the Matthew Skillington report and the late Mr. Crosland's decision on 4th March 1975 to set up a directorate-general of design services within the Property Services Agency he will now make a statement on the work of that department over the past three and three-quarters years; and what improvements in design, departmental morale and recruitment have taken place, following the adverse criticisms of that report.

Chapter 7 of the PSA annual report for 1977–78 which was published on 21st November describes the major initiatives which have been taken by the director-general of design services towards the achievement of high standards of design throughout the agency.The design office continues to attract considerable interest both within PSA and elsewhere. The programme of work has increased and good progress is being made with it. The Liverpool office dispersal project is at working drawing stage and site demolition work has begun. The final sketch plans for the PSA headquarters office at Middlesbrough are nearing completion. Other projects which have reached tender or construction stage are:

  • RAF Coltishall, single officers' quarters (estimated construction period 18 months)
  • Woking married soldiers' quarters (estimated construction period 14 months)
  • Harrogate single soldiers' accommodation (estimated construction period 18 months)

Since January 1977 the following have been included in the programme:

  • Lympstone training cinema
  • RAF Boulmer redevelopment
  • Stone post office technical training college.

For various operational reasons, not connected with the design office, it is not now undertaking the following projects:

  • Portsmouth Command telephone exchange
  • RAF Bentwaters PSA district works office
  • Portland computer building
  • Catterick education center

Staff numbers have been increased to meet the needs of the programme. At the present time 130 staff are in post, including 49 architects and architectural technicians and 7 graduate architects completing their training.

The PSA board design panel has met regularly and design teams have welcomed the panel's visits and its interest in their work. I am satisfied that the establishment of the panel and the increasing activity of the design office are seen as evidence of a greater concern for design matters and have contributed significantly to an improvement in the morale of the Agency; and there are indications that they are likely to have a beneficial influence on future recruitment. In addition, the PSA 600 exhibition and other recent occasions have shown a widening appreciation on the part of outside interests of the design work of the Agency.