Join a growing organisation at the forefront of promoting good design in the built environment.

DSE is an independent charity working to improve the quality of design in the built environment. We started over 20 years ago as an architecture centre for North Kent and we are now the fastest-growing design advisory organisation in the country, working with planning authorities, design professionals, land owners and developers and local communities. We work in London, the South East, the East of England and parts of the West Midlands. Supported by a multi-disciplinary design panel, we aim to offer the highest quality of independent design support to local authorities, the development sector and communities. Our work encompasses the full range of development and place-making projects from complex, high density mixed-use schemes, to public buildings and single private houses.

Our services include:

Design review

Design review represents the biggest part of our work. Our main design review panel provides reviews new developments throughout London, the South East and the East of England.  We see all types of schemes including complex high-density mixed-use urban developments, lower density urban extensions and single private houses.  Our design reviews can also cover some unusual buildings like lifeboat stations, war memorials and football stadiums.  We also manage a number of local panels including panels for Brighton and Hove, the Royal Borough of Kingston upon Thames and Ashford.

Design support

Design support describes the other types of advice and support we provide. This includes one-to-one advice on smaller schemes and policy for local authorities, managing architectural competitions, developing design guides, assessing housing schemes against the Building for Life 12 criteria and running a specialist assessment panel for the Black Country Garden City.

Training and networking

Kent Design is a unique programme of CPD and networking events which we manage on behalf of the Kent Planning officers groups. Through Kent Design we offer an extensive programme of masterclasses, conferences, round tables, study tours and networking events.  We are also commissioned by local authorities throughout London and the South East to provide in-house training in design-related issues for elected members and officers.

Workshops and charrettes

An important part of our work is facilitating events that bring together stakeholders and communities to jointly plan the future of a site, district, town or city.  These are hands-on events which use interactive exercises, mapping and sketching to analyse places and build a consensus about how they could be improved.  Charrettes and workshops will result in a report which might inform planning policy, community action plans or the beginnings of a neighbourhood plan.

You will be working with our small, friendly and dynamic staff team of six.  The team is supported by the multidisciplinary panel of over 130 experts. The panel is chaired by Bob Allies and has five specialist vice-chairs:

  • Jane Briginshaw
  • Peter Studdert
  • Keith Williams
  • Anthony Hudson
  • Richard Portchmouth

We are an independent charitable organisation, our trustees are drawn from the public and private sector and our chairman is Adrian Penfold, Director of Planning at British Land.

About the role

We are looking for a full-time Design Advisor to join the DSE team. The purpose of the role is to help us deliver all the services listed above. Your workload will be varied. No two days will be the same and you will engage with some of the most exciting, intriguing and challenging projects in the country. You will be helping us improve the quality of the built environment by:

  • Managing design review meetings, working alongside our chairs and expert panel, interpreting their recommendations and drafting reports. In time, we may ask you to manage one of our local panels, nurturing our relationship with the sponsoring local authority.
  • Providing design advice, managing small assignments and participating in assessment panels.
  • Assisting with the development and delivery of our design training programmes and networking events including presenting and facilitating where appropriate.
  • Planning, managing and facilitating design workshops and charrettes.
  • Participating in the DSE team, helping to co-ordinate and develop the work and our relationships throughout the areas we work in.

You will report to the Head of Design Advice and your work will be supported by our Design Advice Co-ordinator and Communications and Events Co-ordinator.

About you

We are looking for an enthusiastic built environment professional with at least 2 years’ experience in a discipline such as architecture, urban design, landscape architecture or planning.

You will be committed to helping to influence the quality of our built environment. Driven and highly motivated, you will have the aptitude, knowledge and skills to support our Head of Design Advice and to directly contribute to the delivery of our services.

The following skills and experience are essential:

  • A demonstrable commitment to raising the quality of our built environment
  • A keen interest in, and knowledge of, current issues and developments in the built environment.
  • Awareness of the principles of good urban design
  • A built environment education to minimum honours degree level or equivalent and/or a built environment professional qualification
  • A minimum of 2-years professional experience in the public or private sector
  • Ability to work autonomously and as part of a small team
  • Strong written communication skills including report writing
  • Strong verbal communication skills

We welcome applicants from all professional backgrounds and will assess all applications on their merit. However, we are looking to balance the range of skills and experience in our staff team and would therefore particularly welcome candidates with a planning background or with a strong history of engaging with the planning system.


This job is open to people living in a wide range of locations. We have workspace at Kings Cross and Chatham, Kent, and we come together as a team once a week, alternating between these two places. For the rest of the week when you are not travelling round the south east to deliver our services, you can work from either of those locations or from home. A willingness to travel is essential. Occasional weekend and evening work may be required.


The post is envisaged as full-time. We are also open to applicants seeking a part-time role. There will be a six-month probationary period.

Reporting to: Head of Design Advice

Salary: Circa £35,000 per annum depending on experience

Leave: 25 days annual leave (pro-rata if part-time) plus statutory holidays

How to apply

To apply please email a CV (no more than 4 pages of A4) and a supporting statement (no more than 1 page of A4) clearly demonstrating your suitability for the role to:

Closing date and time for applications is 12.00 noon Monday 22nd January 2018

Interviews are scheduled for Tuesday 30th January (if you are not able to attend on this date please let us know in your application).  A verbal and written communication exercise will form part of the interview.

For an informal conversation about the role please contact David Tittle, Head of Design Advice email or phone on 01634 401166 and request a call back.

Equal Opportunity

DSE is committed to provide equal opportunities for all. Applications are welcomed from all sections of the community. Appointments are made on merit with independent assessments, openness and transparency of process.


DSE is a very busy organisation and providing individual feedback to unsuccessful candidates is quite time consuming. While we will do our best to respond to requests for feedback we cannot guarantee to do so.