Reporting to:

Head of Architecture & Built Environment


circa £45,000 + benefits

Contract type:


Last updated:

October 2019

Who are Design Council?

Design Council’s purpose is to make life better by design.

We are an independent charity and the government’s advisor on design. Our vision is a world where the role and value of design is recognised as a fundamental creator of value, enabling happier, healthier and safer lives for all. Through the power of design, we make better places, better products, better processes and better performance.

How does this role fit in with the bigger picture?

Design Council Architecture & Built Environment (A&BE)’s work seeks to advise private and public sector organisations, communities and voluntary organisations on good design within the built environment. This is achieved through a series of co-ordinated services, Design Review, Design Support and Training, which are being offered together under a single Places Programme to government, local authorities, trust and foundations and developers.

This role will work with expert professionals in the built environment sector to enable local authorities, public sector clients, developers and others to create and deliver better places. The Lead Programme Manager will demonstrate a self-starting and entrepreneurial approach to the delivery of the Places Programme of work, based on a collaborative, commercial and ethical spirit of partnership.

This role will require someone with a passion for improving the built environment, combined with strong client management, team management and programme management skills, along with a proven ability to develop and maintain high profile relationships. They will have the skills to promote Design Council’s values and principles, and enable others to do the same.

What is expected from a Lead Programme Manager, A&BE

Client Focus & Business Development

  • Build and maintain informed client relationships, based on research of issues, geography and market in which they operate, consulting with clients on issues affecting the delivery of their service objectives throughout the full project life cycle, including design, procurement and management.
  • Make actionable and insightful recommendations for product and business developments, extensions or enhancements, based on a detailed understanding of the client’s needs. Taking a lead role with the client, through to sale and delivery of the enhanced service.
  • Represent A&BE, and in particular the design review programme, in speaking at seminars, conferences etc.
  • Build relationships with potential business partners – identifying opportunities for future projects and bringing these forward through the established business development protocols.

Communication and Expertise

  • Communicate architectural, planning and urban design concepts, demonstrating capability in these area’s when working with Design Council A&BE’s Built Environment Experts (BEE’s), developers, design and construction professionals, property owners, staff of the client’s department, elected Members officials, community, amenity societies, other agencies and the general public.
  • Ensure proper detailed briefings are carried out for the Chair and Members of design review panels on the development proposals to be considered and their context; physical, political and planning.
  • Lead on the liaison with the local authority, clients and design teams involved in development proposals, exchanging information and supervising the content for Design Reviews, ensuring that they are kept fully appraised in the structure, content, timetables and progress of individual reviews
  • Oversee the production of written reports by Project Managers and Programme Managers ensuring these represent the views and constructive criticism of the Design Review Panels, in a manner that allows the client, their professional advisors and local authority officers and their lay members to understand and respond positively to the advice presented

Delivery, Quality & Monitoring

  • Ensure coordinated and consistent design review protocols and operating procedures are in place across allocated Cities and districts for which the Lead Programme Manager is responsible.
  • Provide support to clients in setting up design review panels for their area of authority, through establishing a service that meets the client’s needs and assists them meet the challenges they face in managing development by:
  • Carrying out the role of senior design review contact for the delivery of design review services for a client, including liaising with senior figures within the organisations receiving A&BE’s advice.
  • Prepare and manage the forward pipeline of reviews for the organisations receiving A&BE’s design review advice, ensuring that the resources are available to deliver the service required.
  • Effectively managing the scheduling of briefing, reviews and the submission of the final report to meet the timing expectations exchanged between A&BE and the client in the contract and service level agreement.
  • Monitoring A&BE’s performance when measured against expectations exchanged with the client in the contract and service level agreement, with regard to cancellations, invoicing, delivering the final report etc. and taking informed action in a timely fashion when necessary.  
  • Supervise and Coordinate the setting up of individual Design Review Panels, comprising members of A&BE’s 400 strong network of Built Environment Experts. Ensuring panels are diverse in outlook, experience and representation. Including liaising with and co-ordinating the attendance and input of individual panel members, aligning appropriate skills and knowledge to the type of development being considered, to ensure efficient delivery of a quality design review service.
  • Track progress of design review programme work against the targets in the business plan and client contracts, in order to ensure that they are being met.
  • Manage the gathering of service data, evidence and resulting insight to support the effective delivery of A&BE services and their continuous improvement and development.
  • Proactively co-ordinate Design Council A&BE’s risk management and record maintenance in line with procedures, policies and protocols across the areas of responsibility

Collaboration and Learning

  • Establish knowledge on the local economic, social and environmental issues faced by the client, through the development of a clear understanding of the national, regional and local political, policy and financial framework impacting on the client’s area of authority, and disseminate it to colleagues and BEE’s
  • Coordinate with other agencies and organisations related to the delivery of the Places Programme of activity, coordinating their involvement in our work and participating in outreach and public information activities as appropriate.

Management & Business

  • To lead and manage design review staff by example, enthusing and mentoring them in the delivery of exceptional standards of service and content delivery, through effective performance management and appraisals that develops and supports staff in delivering their own and the organisations potential.
  • Efficiently and effectively prepare and manage programme/project budgets, resources and oversee the preparation of contracts and necessary outcome reports to the agree quality and timescale
  • Management of the financial aspects of the Places programme for individual client authorities, managing and monitoring the orders and invoicing and payments, and liaising with clients to ensure smooth operation of the work delivery and cash flow.
  • Undertake special initiatives and specific programme responsibilities as agreed with the Deputy Director A&BE. Manage specific outputs of the programme such as best practice advice, associated workshops, training and events, and their dissemination in several formats. This will be particularly important in delivering Places Programme ambition initiatives for the purpose of developing the business with clients.
  • Lead the recruitment, governance, contract and performance of Design Council A&BE’s BEEs. Ensuring panel and individual BEE selection is inclusive and diverse in outlook, including dealing with conflict of interest cases and supporting provision of training

Other responsibilities

  • Contribute to the dissemination of best practice
  • Support the Head of Architecture & Built Environment as necessary
  • Undertake any other reasonable tasks/duties as required

Corporate Responsibilities

  • Ensure you comply with the Design Council operational policies and procedures including financial and risk management, project management and evaluation processes, brand guide lines and internal health and safety policy
  • To comply with management policy, including the Data Protection Act, information security and confidentiality.

This role will involve some evening work and travel as required in accordance with the needs of the projects and programmes.

Does this sound like you?

Skills and Qualifications

  • Academic and professional qualifications in architecture, planning or related discipline, and experience in practice in either the private or the public sector
  • Demonstrable client management, entrepreneurial and business development skills
  • Demonstrable programme and project management skills
  • Demonstrable leadership and people management skills 
  • Excellent communication skills – verbal and writing

Knowledge and experience

  • Awareness of issues and processes in urban design, architecture, landscape architecture or town planning
  • Understand the principles of people-focused design and the practical detail of inclusive environments, and the ability to convey these through advocacy and the Places programme
  • Track record of success with project delivery
  • Knowledge and experience of managing and delivering a range of complex bids and proposals.
  • Experience of setting up systems and processes to manage larger scale programmes to support complex client bodies, e.g. local authorities
  • Knowledge of MS office, including Word, Excel, Outlook and PowerPoint
  • Experience of web-based software and processes
  • Knowledge of contract management
  • Critical and analytical skills in relation to design issues, and an ability to express ideas clearly and confidently in written and spoken English to a range of people. 
  • An understanding and interest in architecture, urban design and architectural history, in theory and in practice, and of current and emerging architectural issues.
  • An interest in learning and the dissemination of advice
  • An understanding of the statutory planning system, in theory or through practice, and of current and emerging planning policy issues
  • Experience of writing reports and letters to a range of high profile stakeholders


  • Resourceful and authentic approach to work
  • Confident communicator with a client focused approach to confidently manage client expectations and project work and its outcomes
  • Excellent personal organisation and interpersonal co-ordination skills
  • Ability to work collaboratively - building creative consensus, and consulting and involving others
  • Ability to work under pressure and to meet demanding and conflicting deadlines
  • Ability to organise own workload, and to organise and oversee the work of others in an open and inclusive manner
  • The ability to remain calm, responsive and flexible in times of change
  • Confident in dealing with people from all levels
  • Tactful, discreet and diplomatic
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Good team player
  • Proactive, hands on approach
  • Effective line management approach

Equality Diversity and Inclusion

The Design Council is committed to providing equal opportunities for all.  Applications are welcomed from all sections of the community.  Appointments are made on merit.

How to apply…

To apply, please email your CV and supporting statement to demonstrate your suitability for the role to

Closing date: 17 November 2019 at 23:59