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The Friday Five 06.10.23

Published on: 5 Oct 2023

It's The Friday Five, our weekly round-up of five of the top town planning jobs on Planner Jobs this week – plus a smattering of place-based facts. This week, opportunities in Rugby, Bexleyheath, Matlock, Letchworth Garden City, and Gainsborough; and tales of the real Captain Haddock, the longest pier on the Thames, the steepest tram in England, Britain’s first roundabout and the chocolates named after a machine.


Location: Rugby, Warwickshire

The job: "We are seeking a dynamic and skilled planning officer or senior planning officer to work as part of our friendly and pro-active development strategy team. One of the fastest growing local authorities in the country, Rugby Borough is located in the county of Warwickshire, near the cities of Coventry and Leicester, with direct rail links to London and Birmingham and within “the golden triangle” of the strategic road network. It's a great place to live and work.

"This is an ideal time to join, as the post holder will have the opportunity to help shape the council’s new local plan from the beginning. You will need to have a relevant degree and experience of planning policy work in the UK. For the senior planning officer role, you will need extensive planning experience, including in public participation/engagement."

Titanic [square]Fun fact: Captain Herbert Haddock. No, not a Tintin character, but an actual British mariner, born in Rugby, who was the first captain of the RMS Titanic. The first? Why, yes – his captaincy lasted just a week and didn’t involve any actual sailing. Instead, his job was to oversee the crew assembling at the Belfast shipyard where the liner was manufactured ahead of its delivery to Southampton for its maiden voyage. After a week, on 31 March 1912, he was relieved by Edward J Smith, the captain of the ship when it struck an iceberg in the Atlantic Ocean and sank just 15 days later.

By this time, Haddock was already en route from New York to Southampton aboard his usual vessel, the RMS Olympic. The Olympic had left Southampton on 3 April for a round trip to New York, arriving on the 10th and departing again soon after. At the time the Titanic struck the iceberg that sank it, the Olympic was 500 nautical miles away (580 miles); Haddock changed course and headed straight for the stricken liner – but it was too far for him and his crew to make any difference. 

Haddock subsequently served in the Royal Navy during the First World War and then became an aide de camp, a kind of personal assistant, to King George V. He retired in 1919 and died in 1946, aged 85. It is not thought that he inspired Hergé to create his own Captain Haddock, whose name was inspired by a “sad English fish” his wife had cooked for dinner.

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Location: Bexleyheath, south east London

The job: "We're looking for ambitious planners capable of leading on a range of applications. We're looking for individuals at the start of their planning careers as well as those with substantial experience of working within development management. 

"This role is key for the delivery of the council’s strategic corporate priorities – and you'll be ambitious for new opportunities and want to work as part of dynamic and friendly team to meet the borough’s growth ambitions.  Working for us you will have the opportunity to make a real difference for our residents, securing growth with new homes and regenerating our town centres. If you’re looking for a new challenge, career progression and an accommodating working culture, come and join us on our journey. 

"Bexley is an outer London Borough with the best of both worlds, located between the hustle and bustle of London and the Garden of England, Kent. Within the borough we have award winning parks, open spaces and listed heritage sites. This is an exciting time for the London Borough of Bexley as we are at the heart of a regeneration and change as London moves east."

Erith pier [square]Fun fact: At 360 metres, Erith Pier is the longest of the many piers that line the River Thames. It’s also, usually, shaped like a boomerang – the better to enable vessels to berth safely in deep water parallel to the riverbank.

Nowadays, it's a concrete structure, but the pier was originally wooden and 135 metres in length when it opened in 1842. A neighbouring hotel opened two years later and then a pleasure gardens with an archery field, bowling green and conservatory. At this time, two ships travelling between London and Gravesend called at the pier daily and offered a luxurious commute into town for gentlemen working in the City. They would, apparently, be served a “hearty breakfast with wine” en route...

The arrival of the railway at Erith in 1849 put paid to such hedonistic commuting habits and this, alongside the opening a sewage outflow close to the pier, pretty much signalled its end as a location for leisure. Henceforth, it was used as a deep water berth for industrial ships, from which freight would be unloaded into smaller boats for transport up-river to London. 

The old wooden pier was finally demolished in 1957 and replaced with the modern concrete structure. The hotel was also demolished to make way for warehouses and the pier embarked on a second wind, for a time. But industrial decline sealed its fate once again and the pier was abandoned for some decades.

In 1999, a Morrisons supermarket was built on the site of the old wharf and the pier retained as a public amenity. Nowadays, it’s popular with anglers, ship-spotters and walkers seeking peace and quiet as the river flows beneath them.

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Location: Matlock, Derbyshire

The job: "An opportunity has arisen to manage a dedicated team of planning officers within the development management team at Derbyshire Dales District Council to help deliver the aspirations of our current local plan and future ambitions with regard to housing and employment growth to meet the district’s needs as part of the local plan review.

"You will be an experienced and confident planner with a proven track record of leading on and delivering high quality development, whilst being able to maximise the benefits of new development for existing and future residents of the district.

"The district has a wealth of stunning landscapes, picturesque villages, historic buildings, conservation areas, archaeological sites and historic parks and gardens which make it one of the best places in Britain to live, work and visit."

Vintage tram interior [square]Fun fact: For slightly more than three decades from 1893, Matlock was served by the steepest tramway in the world on public roads: the Matlock Cable Tramway, which ran for 1.2 kilometres between the railway station and the town centre, pulled a heavy carriage  for 100 metres up a slope with a gradient of 18 per cent. By 1927, the tramway was haemorrhaging money and was replaced by a motorised bus service. 

The tram had been inspired by a visit to San Francisco by one of its founding directors, Job Smith. Smith saw the potential for a tram to ferry visitors to Matlock from the railway station, up the steep hill and to the hydro spa hotels for which the town was famous. It was funded by a local newspaper owner and involved a considerable feat of engineering: in total, the short tramway required a tram depot, an engine house, a boiler room (it was steam-powered), cabling, a tramway and two tramcars – one going up while the other went down, passing each other at a passing place en route.

By 1927, the technology that powered the tram had been superseded by modern automobiles and it had become more or less redundant. All that remains is the tram shelter, with clock tower, in what is now Hall Leys Park. 

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Location: Letchworth Garden city/Home

The job: "In November 2022, adopted a new local plan and proposals are now emerging on an exciting range of strategic and significant sites around our towns and villages for schemes of up 3,000 homes and supporting infrastructure.

"We are now seeking an experienced and proficient planning or urban design professional to co-ordinate and lead the council’s project teams working with landowners on pre-application masterplans, as well as providing ongoing professional design advice to our development management service as applications progress through the planning system. You will additionally lead on the production of relevant policies and guidance including a district-wide design code for North Hertfordshire.

"You will be comfortable independently managing and balancing a varied and challenging workload, commissioning and receiving advice from technical experts while also providing leadership within projects, clear advice to colleagues and guidance to more junior members of staff. 

"North Hertfordshire is a large rural district with approximately 125,000 residents with four historic towns: Hitchin, Baldock, Royston and the world’s first Garden City at Letchworth."

Letchworth roundabout [square]Fun fact: Another engineering marvel, of sorts: aside from being the first garden city, Letchworth is also considered to be home to Britain’s first roundabout and arguably the first ‘modern’ roundabout anywhere. It’s a slightly dubious claim, given that circular junctions had been in use in various locations for a couple of centuries before Letchworth was founded, including the Place de l'Étoile around the Arc de Triomphe in Paris. 

Nevertheless, the circular junction at Sollershott Circus was created in 1909 as a pedestrian refuge at an intersection of three roads, Broadway, Spring Road, and Sollershott East and West. The rules around roundabout use were at the time a bit sketchy: generally, priority was given to ‘approaching’ vehicles rather than those already circulating or allowed high-speed merges and so on. Basically, they were a recipe for chaos and accidents were frequent and numerous, leading many highways authorities to abandon roundabouts in favour of traffic lights.

In the 1960s, the UK’s Transport Research Laboratory began to re-engineer and standardise circular intersections, with a wider range of safety features and a new priority rule that required entering traffic to give way to circulating traffic (as we know it today). The modern roundabout was adopted by the Ministry of Transport in 1966 and the new style became mandatory at all circular intersections. 

The great advantage of roundabouts over traffic light-governed intersections is that they enable faster, more reactive traffic flow. They check the speed of vehicles while maintaining momentum and enable U-turns within the flow of traffic. Overall, they’re quicker, safer, allow traffic to flow more smoothly and generate less pollution (because cars spend less time sat idling).

Nowadays, roundabouts are widespread in Europe, although North America was a little late to recognise their benefits: Canada built its first modern roundabout in 1999.

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Location: Gainsborough, Lincolnshire

The job: "West Lindsey is one of the largest districts in England, covering 1,156km2 and with a population of  around 95,000 people. We are a predominantly rural district, with an administrative centre in  Gainsborough on the River Trent, and the historic market towns of Market Rasen and Caistor to  the east, nestling into the Lincolnshire Wolds, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The  development management team receives more than 1,500 applications a year for planning permission, listed building consent, advertisement consent and other related applications. 

"We are now looking for an enthusiastic person to join our development management team, where you will be responsible for taking on a diverse caseload of planning and other development-related applications. Whether recently qualified, or an experienced officer, to succeed in this role it is  essential that you are outcome-focused and dedicated to achieving high-quality development. You should have a sound understanding of current and emerging planning legislation, be a good problem solver and be able to identify solutions that will achieve the best results. You will be the lead planning officer for a diverse caseload of applications."

Cadbury Roses [square]Fun fact: And yet ANOTHER engineering-related fact. We all know Cadbury Roses chocolates, right? They’re a staple of family Christmases, workplace celebrations and small gifts for people we don’t know all that well. The natural assumption is to think the name is somehow linked to the flower and the variety of chocolates on offer reflects the different colours and varieties of roses that have been cultivated over the years, each one a delight, of course.

But apparently not. One version of the naming story goes that Cadbury Roses are named after the Gainsborough company (Rose Brothers Ltd) which invented the machine that wrapped the chocolates. Rose Brothers started out in Gainsborough in the 1880s as a firm that manufactured machines for wrapping tobacco so that it could be sold ready-wrapped. This was the first commodity to be sold mechanically wrapped for sale.

The business took off (especially in the United States) and by the early 1900s was experimenting with wrapping other goods as well, including confectionery, baked goods, biscuits tea and chocolate. In time, the company perfected a machine that would not only twist-wrap sweets and chocolates but could handle different shapes and sizes, too. 

Cadbury Roses were introduced in 1938 as a rival to Mackintosh's Quality Street. The Rose Brothers story held sway for a long time; but in 2020 a text appeal appeared on the side of tubs of Roses offering an alternative explanation: according to this, the chocolates were named after the favourite flowers of Dorothy Cadbury, a company director and botanist who grew roses in the grounds of the company’s Bournville factory. We prefer the wrapping machine story.

Find out more and apply

Image credits | iStock; iStock; Sue Burton Photography, Shutterstock; Peter Moulton, Shutterstock; MarkUK97, Shutterstock