Employing an urban designer

The UDG has previously set out what skills, knowledge and understanding an urban designer needs, and this is particularly useful in designing education programmes. Prospective employers need something more specific as well: advice on what tasks an urban designer might be able to -- or should be required to -- carry out. The UDG can help employers by listing and explaining these tasks, and by explaining that different types of urban designer will be able skilled and experiences in various groups of tasks. The employer will then be able to match the tasks to the employee.

An urban designer needs to understand the planning system, the principles of urbanism, development economics, context appraisal, movement analysis, regeneration strategy, conservation, landscape design, site planning, masterplanning, public and stakeholder collaboration, implementation, project funding, project management, graphic communication, negotiation, and how to formulate design policy and write guidance. After all, how could a professional who does not meet that specification possibly get to grips with the full complexities of the urban design and development process?

Specifically, though, the following are tasks that are carried out by urban designers (who may or may not use that term to describe themselves). Some urban designers have the necessary skills and experience to carry out all of them. Others have more limited capabilities. Prospective employers will need to decide what tasks they need to be performed, and to ensure that the person appointed matches that requirement.

The UDG would welcome comments on this.

Urban design tasks

(These are not all mutually exclusive: carrying out a policy review is likely to be part of preparing a development brief, for example).

Writing policy

  • Writing urban design policies for a development plan
  • Monitoring and reviewing design policy and guidance

Studies and appraisals

  • Carrying out an urban morphology study
  • Carrying out a policy review
  • Carrying out a site and context appraisal
  • Carrying out a public space appraisal, including space syntax analysis
  • Carrying out a feasibility appraisal
  • Carrying out or facilitating a Placecheck

Design advice

  • Advising prospective planning applicants on design aspects of development
  • Advising elected politicians and local government officers on design aspects of development
  • Giving design advice on planning applications as part of the development control function of a local authority
  • Advising other local government services on urban design matters
  • Advising on the form and content of design statements as part of the submission requirements accompanying planning applications
  • Appearing as an expert witness, preparing statements of evidence, and giving evidence on urban design matters on appeals into planning applications and development plan inquiries
  • Advising the public on urban design matters
  • Collaborating with a range of professionals across local authority service areas

Preparing guidance and statements

  • Preparing a vision statement
  • Drawing up an urban code
  • Drawing up a design code
  • Writing and illustrating urban design guidance
  • Writing a design guide
  • Writing a development brief
  • Writing an urban design framework
  • Drawing up a set of planning and design principles for a specific area or site
  • Preparing a design statement
  • Preparing a public realm strategy.
  • Drawing up a set of planning and design principles for a specific area or site.

Site and area design

  • Designing the movement network for an area or site
  • Designing a development layout for an area or site
  • Producing indicative layouts for specific sites
  • Preparing a master plan
  • Preparing site drawings
  • Preparing presentations

Managing the process

  • Negotiating with planning applicants and their agents
  • Managing the process of public and stakeholder involvement
  • Setting briefs for and managing design consultants
  • Managing the development process
  • Negotiating with public service professionals in submitting design statements
  • Managing the process of public stakeholder involvement in connection with the preparation of public realm strategies, development briefs and urban design frameworks
  • Setting briefs for and managing design consultants
  • Enabling and managing the development process
  • Formulating and setting urban design performance indicators
  • Collaborating with public service professionals on the management, design and maintenance of the public realm.

Design awareness and promotion

  • Setting up and administering a local design awards scheme
  • Advising on the establishment of local design panels.