London mayor seeks new Design Unit leader to navigate ‘complex politics’

Under a restructure of Greater London Authority (GLA) teams, announced last year, the Design Unit has been set up within the authority’s planning and regeneration team to ‘drive excellence in design across, and beyond, the GLA Group’.

It will do this through a combination of planning powers, advocacy and commissioning, a paper outlining proposals said.

The unit is formed from existing parts of the London Plan and Growth Strategies Team and the Good Growth by Design programme. Its leader will be the department’s only newly created role.

A job advert for the post has been published, offering a £75,750 salary.

The candidate needs to have extensive experience in urban design, architecture, planning or related experience, as well as good project management and ‘tried and tested’ communication skills.

They also need to have experience or demonstrable ability to work at high level in a complex political environment and to command confidence.

The new head of the unit will be tasked with overseeing the development of strategies to ‘promote world-class architecture, sustainability, viability and inclusive design in London’s buildings, public spaces and urban fabric’, as well as managing design reviews, the operation of the Architecture + Urbanism Framework and the wider Good Growth by Design programme.

To perform effectively in the role, the advert adds, the leader will need to ‘actively challenge and address silo attitudes’ both inside and outside the GLA, and to ‘influence the thinking’ of other organisations.

Applications for the post close at 11.59pm this Sunday (18 February) with interviews set to take place in early March.

The paper outlining the plans last year said that the post’s salary would generate an additional net cost of £27,000 per year for the taxpayer, with the costs of the role being partially offset through the removal of a vacant post elsewhere as part of the wider restructuring.

The Mayor of London’s office has been contacted for comment about the new role.

The GLA reorganisation is also seeing the creation of a ‘multidisciplinary matrix team’, called the Place Unit, which will focus on area and place-based work.

Another new role – the £75,750 post of area manager within the Place Unit – was advertised last month.

In a statement last year, a spokesperson for the mayor said: ‘This new unit will bring together exciting elements from the London Plan and Growth Strategies Team and the Good Growth by Design Programme to build on a long culture of design excellence within the GLA.

‘The team will promote equality and inclusion in the built environment, as well as advocate for quality design in the sector.’


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