Principal Urban Design Officer

London Borough of Islington
PO5 £46,392 - £49,428 per annum

We have an exciting opportunity to join the Design & Conservation Team in the role of Principal Urban Design Officer, working closely with the Council's New Build Team. We are embarking on an ambitious house building plan to tackle the housing crisis. Established in 2009, we have completed over 30 schemes since we began, making us one of the most active house building boroughs for completed schemes in London. 

We are seeking an experienced Urban Design Officer who can help us deliver high quality, new residential and mixed use development schemes to support our belief that a secure and affordable place to call home is key to helping people achieve their potential and enjoy a good quality of life.

To succeed in this role you will need to demonstrate a commitment to design quality and conservation best practice. 

You will have the skills and relevant experience to:

  • Take the lead in providing design advice to the New Building team as part of Islington's New Build Housing Programme
  • Provide design advice to development management officers, negotiate on development proposals, and contribute to reports at all stages of the planning process
  • Provide input to assist in the development of streetscape improvement projects
  • Advise on urban design policy and principles
  • Help manage and continually improve the Design Review Panel, contributing towards all stages of its process
  • Utilise your knowledge and expertise to advise the New Build Housing Team on matters to aid in the speeding up of the delivery of the Programme
  • Liaise with a wide range of internal and external partners, stakeholders, and interested parties in relation to design matters as part of the application and formal pre-application procedures, contributing to the coordination and evaluation of responses, including resolution of any conflicting issues
  • Hold a good working knowledge of other areas of specialisation within Planning in order to understand how they interact with the complexities of the major planning application and New Build Housing programme processes and in particular how they may interact with urban design matters.

Closing date: Monday 27th June 2022 at 23:59

Interview date: Monday 11th July 2022

For an informal discussion about this role please contact Claire Sutton on 020 7527 4939


Detailed job description and main responsibilities

To contribute to the provision of an excellent, effective and efficient Development Management Service and feed into the Council’s New Build Housing Programme. Key functions are providing the Development Management Section with design advice on proposals, including taking part in negotiations at all stages of the planning process and inputting into the Council’s Design Review Panel (DRP). This is a key post as the London Borough of Islington’s leading design advisor on the Council’s Housing New Build Programme. A key function will be to work collaboratively with a problem solving mind-set in relation to seeking to maximise the delivery of affordable housing as part of this programme, in a manner that recognises the competing planning policy priorities.  

The role includes stakeholder engagement, policy development and interpretation, negotiating high quality outcomes and supporting the decision-making processes of the Planning Authority. Additionally, it includes providing pre-application and general planning advice in accordance with national, regional and local planning legislation, policy and guidance.

The post will also include some conservation based work, including commenting on planning applications.

Person specification


Essential criteria

E1 Completion of a recognised relevant qualification in Urban Design, Architecture, Landscape Architecture or other relevant Design Discipline. Eligibility for membership of RTPI, RIBA or equivalent professional body.

E2 Exceptional verbal and written communication skills with excellent attention to detail and the ability to explain complex technical urban design matters within the Planning/Development Management context to service users.

E3 Extensive knowledge and understanding of as well as experience gained in the Urban Design, Planning and Landscape Architecture fields. Demonstrable successful interpretation and application of current legislation and national, regional and local planning policy and urban design principles and working practices relating to Planning and Development Management.

Desirable criteria

Membership of RTPI, RIBA or equivalent relevant professional body.

Knowledge, Skills and Ability

Essential criteria

E4 Expert knowledge and understanding of key issues and the latest developments in urban design, architecture, heritage and construction methods/materials with a practical appreciation of good design and related implications. This also includes the ability to carry out detailed on-site discussions with building contractors/architects/planning agents in relation to the high quality delivery of major development schemes, requiring clear understanding of the fundamentals of architectural design and construction

E5 Ability to maintain up to date and in depth knowledge of relevant legislation, policies, theories, best practices and procedures in the fields of architecture, architectural design and construction and urban design (including landscape architecture) with a view to ensuring the council delivers excellence in this area.

E6 Working knowledge and understanding of development management systems and processes and the ability to work to specified procedures and to contribute to the promotion of the Council’s Corporate priorities and provides an integrated approach to policy, major planning application proposals and other development issues.

E7 Knowledge, ability and/ or proven track record of leading on the provision of specialist advice on all matters relating to architectural and urban design including advising on major and complex development schemes and regeneration projects in particular those being promoted by the council. This will include identifying urban design issues and potential problems arising from major developments and other schemes and ability and experience of making recommendations for creative, imaginative yet practical and deliverable solutions including through use of quantitative and qualitative analysis, evaluation of alternative solutions and consequences of outcomes.

E8 Demonstrable understanding, commitment and ability to carry out the tasks of the post, with experience of using performance management techniques to meet agreed deadlines to provide timely, reasonable, clear, robust and realistic advice to support the service and its ability to meet and exceed performance targets. Particularly with respect of the Council’s New Build Housing Programme, contributing to the delivery of an excellent customer focused service.

E9 Ability and commitment to occasionally work outside of normal working hours as and when required, to work flexibly in undertaking the duties and responsibilities of this post, and participate as required in multi-disciplinary and cross-organisational groups and task teams.

E10 Ability to use IT resources to support the functions of the post and the wider service.

E11 Ability and experience of drafting accurate and concise reports/observations on complex development/regeneration schemes including experience of providing written advice on strategic urban design issues, complex correspondence, briefing notes and similar documents containing urban design/architectural assessments, demonstrating exceptional technical skills and knowledge.

E12 Ability and experience of successfully preparing and presenting expert and professional evidence regarding the most complex technical urban design matters including successfully representing the Council at Planning Committees, Public Inquiries and informal hearings and complex appeals or other relevant legal proceedings to include the giving of evidence under cross-examination.

E13 Ability to work independently of the Team Manager, taking a lead role on the provision of urban design and conservation area advice for complex PPA schemes and development proposals coming through the Council’s New Build Housing Programme. Demonstrable experience of carrying out research and preparing and presenting all types of reports on own initiative to senior stakeholders (including councillors and council meetings), liaising with the Team Manager as appropriate.

E14 To develop positive and cohesive relationships with the Council’s New Build Housing Team at all levels, with PPA participating customers and other stakeholders in relation to the future development and delivery of high quality urban design in Islington. This includes corporate, internal and high profile external clients and partners both at pre-application, application and on-site stages. This will include leading and contributing in detail to the Site Finder processes of the New Build Housing Team.

E15 Ability to secure improved development scheme outcomes. Demonstrable confidence in presenting alternative recommendations to that of specialists acting on behalf of an applicant if supported by sound urban design principles, evidence or policy. Ability to negotiate scheme improvements to complex and/or large scale proposals as the lead urban design officer unsupported by senior staff.

E16 Experience of working in partnership with public, private, voluntary and/or community sector organisations and successfully managing and facilitating effective working relationships across and between organisations and the public, demonstrating the ability to ensure robust and inclusive community engagement and to provide advice and assistance to the public and other customers as and when necessary. This includes being able to attend and represent the service in respect of Council New Build Housing schemes at public meetings and site visits to discuss urban design issues and development proposals.

E17 Ability to assist in the development and implementation of local planning policy and guidance relating to urban design, the preparation of planning briefs for key development sites in the borough, presenting those to Council committees and other forums as appropriate.

E18 Ability to contribute to and lead on urban design matters with respect of projects relating to the Council’s New Build Housing Programme and other PPA and high profile schemes. In addition, dealing with chief officers, senior members and external contacts on the full range of matters relating to management issues and all types of policy issues arising out of the New Build and PPA programmes.

E19 Extensive experience and proven track record of a high level of competence and of successfully influencing and securing improved urban design outcomes within the context of a high volume, high output service demand. Ability to provide timely, high quality and helpful advice in relation to complex high profile / value and politically sensitive major applications that constitute significant interventions in the built environment with minimal supervision.

E20 Ability to mentor, train and develop more junior staff.

Commitment to equal opportunities

Essential criteria

E21 Ability to adhere to the Council’s Dignity for All policy

It is the policy of Islington Council that no user of service, present or future employee or job applicant receives less favourable treatment on the grounds of their sex, perceived or actual sexual orientation, marital status, race, religion or belief, age, creed, colour, nationality, national origin, ethnic origin, or disability, or on the grounds of their association with someone in one of these groups; nor is disadvantaged by any conditions or requirements which cannot be shown to be justified. We welcome applications from Black and Minority Ethnic candidates and acknowledge our responsibility to mitigate against racial discrimination. 

PLEASE NOTE: Priority will be given to those at risk of redundancy within Islington Council. Current employees who are part of the redeployment pool must meet the essential criteria for shortlisting to be prioritised.

Islington Council operates a guaranteed interview scheme for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum criteria and we are committed to providing support to applicants who request reasonable adjustments to be made during the recruitment process and throughout their career with us.

We are committed to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children, young people and vulnerable adults, and expects all staff, and volunteers to share this commitment.

 We are also committed to flexible working and will consider requests where possible.

Islington Council also operates random drug or alcohol testing for safety critical roles or for where there may be just cause.

To apply for this position please use the online application process below. Please note that the council only accepts on-line applications, no CV’s or alternative forms of applications are accepted. If you are unable to use the online process please contact the Recruitment team on 020 7527 2155 or e-mail

Closing Date
Monday 27 June 2022