Urban Design

Careers in the public sector

What do urban designers do in the public sector?

Urban designers in the public sector create and shape places that work for different needs and deliver economic, social and environmental benefits. Urban designers bring their design skills and knowledge, spatial and analytical skills, and stakeholder and project management experience in-house.

In the public sector, urban designers work on a broad range of tasks, including advising on the design of development and critiquing projects proposed by developers and landowners. You might be tasked with:

  • Writing design policy, design guidance, design briefs, design codes and characterisation studies.
  • Working with development management (planning) officers on appraising the design quality in planning applications and during pre-application meetings.
  • Undertaking design-led site analysis, capacity and feasibility studies to support the delivery of small to medium-scale housing infill sites.
  • Leading interactive co-design workshops with the local community and stakeholder and setting up design competitions for masterplanning of large strategic sites.
  • Providing expertise in heritage-led regeneration and development in Conservation Areas, including tall buildings guidance and urban intensification.
  • Promoting a design-led approach to officers and members and growing confidence in design and conservation.

For built environment roles in the public sector, urban designers need to be creative and able to put forward persuasive ideas and proposals; enjoy critical analysis and problem-solving; be able to communicate clearly with a diverse range of people through written, verbal and visual (including drawings and diagrams) communication methods, and be comfortable working with maps and plans.

What type of jobs might urban designers be suitable for?

People with a background in urban design can work in a range of built environment roles in the public sector, including:

  • development management - providing expert design advice in pre-apps;
  • masterplanning - contributing to or creating design codes;
  • policy - bringing specialist advice to a local plan;
  • property development - providing design expertise in housing delivery;
  • economic development - regenerating high streets and co-designing with local communities.

Progression could be moving upwards to a managerial or senior leadership role with more responsibility for supervising the work of team members or more complex projects and programmes; or by specialising in a particular field such as landscape, sustainability, or community engagement.

Urban Designers we've recruited into public sector roles

Qualifications needed

Urban designers in the public sector might have a degree in urban design, architecture, or urban or city planning. Urban design is not a formally accredited profession in the UK and local authority hiring managers often consider evidence of professional practice experience if there is no direct relevant degree.

Progress your career

Ready to start a career in the public sector?

If you are looking for a role between £30-55,000, find out more about how our Associate Programme works and how it can support you in transitioning into the public sector. Do you have more senior experience and looking for a role with a salary above £60,000, check out our jobs board that lists senior and leadership roles in public sector placemaking.

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