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The Friday Five 12.01.24

Published on: 11 Jan 2024

It's The Friday Five, our weekly round-up of five of the best town planning jobs on Planner jobs this week – plus a selection of place-based facts to go with. This week, opportunities in Wakefield, Lichfield, Eastbourne, Cambridge and Harrow. Plus, tales of rugby playing playwrights, the spiritual home of Subbuteo, jam central in Cambridgeshire, shoes from Eastbourne and the poet's daughter buried in Harrow. 


Location: Wakefield, West Yorkshire

The job: "This is an exciting time to join Wakefield Council’s planning services development management team. Our emerging local plan (scheduled for adoption in January 2024) sets ambitious housing and job growth targets and to meet this challenge and to ensure that high quality, strategic regeneration initiatives are delivered we are looking for enthusiastic, committed and experienced individuals, qualified in town planning, to join our highly successful development management planning team.

"Suitable candidates will have responsibility for case-managing and determining a range of complex and major planning applications, providing pre-application planning advice and assisting with staff development and service improvements."

Rugby league ground [square]Fun fact: The novel This Sporting Life – adapted into a film by Lindsay Anderson and starring Richard Harris – tells the story of a Wakefield coal miner-turned-rugby league player, and his tumultuous personal life. 

The novel was written by David Storey, a Wakefield lad and the son of a coal miner. As a  young man, Storey balanced playing rugby league for Leeds with studying fine art at London’s Slade School. 

Storey’s appetite for rough and tumble wasn’t limited to the rugby pitch. He was also a prolific playwright, and The Guardian’s obituary upon his death in 2017 relates how a group of critics were passing through the Royal Court Theatre, having issued lukewarm reviews of Storey’s Mother’s Day. The playwright accosted them, hitting The Guardian’s Michael Billington on the head, and labelling the unfortunate reviewer an “idiot”. 

In 2016, an exhibition of Storey’s drawings was displayed at Wakefield’s Hepworth Gallery, named for another of the city’s most famous exports – the artist and sculptor Barbara Hepworth.

Find out more and apply


Location: Lichfield, Staffordshire/Hybrid

The job: "We’re Lichfield District Council, providing vital services to 106,000 people in the heart of England. The district is a beautiful place to live and work and boasts a historic city centre with an impressive cathedral, and is just 15 miles north of Birmingham. Our regulation and enforcement service brings together all our related functions, including environmental health, licensing and planning enforcement. This is important work and every day our officers are making a positive difference to people, businesses, communities and the environment.

"This is an exciting new post that will lead the council's planning enforcement function. A senior manager within the regulation and enforcement service, you'll be working alongside talented people all focused on regulating businesses and enforcing the law. The post will manage a planning enforcement officer, support the development of a team of apprentices, contribute to the work of the wider service, and lead on the link with development management."

Subbuteo [square]Fun fact: Lichfield Cathedral in Staffordshire is one of only three cathedrals in the United Kingdom with three spires, so this piece is about the Subbuteo shop that was once located in the streets nearby.

We say ’Subbuteo’, but we should probably say ‘table football’, as this sport of inch-high plastic kings does, in fact, support many ‘equipment’ manufacturers. Dare we say that Subbuteo, like model railways, might appeal to those who enjoy creating environments, a little like planners themselves? This just happens to also be a toy/pastime/international sport (one can actually play table football ‘for England’, for heaven’s sake) that’s obviously an equivalent to snooker on account of it being all about picking the right angles on a baize table.

Subbuteo was once played in more than 50 countries and, rather like vinyl records, has seen something of a resurgence in recent years despite many seemingly more advanced alternatives. At the turn of the century, Lichfield’s Woodentop Table Soccer Shop, long since closed, was frequented by England’s table football elite, with the town also the home of Sue Taylor, Britain's top woman Subbuteo player of the time.

Find out more and apply


Location: Cambourne/Cambridge/Hybrid

The job: "We're looking for talented and passionate urban designers to join our award winning built and natural environment team - comprising urban designers, heritage specialists, ecologists, landscape designers and arboriculturists who work within the Greater Cambridge Planning Service.

"It’s an exciting time to join our team if you're an experienced practitioners wishing to establish your career in a high-profile growth location. You'll play an important role in positively influencing high quality design outcomes, working in one of the UK’s important historic cities and at the centre of one of the fastest growing economies in the country. Projects include city extensions Marleigh and Springstead Village, redevelopment of city centre sites, creation of two new towns at Northstowe and Waterbeach, development of various employment sites on science and research parks and residential schemes in sensitive village locations.

"You'll work on a wide variety of projects, including pre-application and application advice on schemes of different complexities, design codes, assisting in the delivery of the Greater Cambridge Design Review Panel, advising on our strategic sites and inputting into the Greater Cambridge Local Plan."

Jam [square]Fun fact: A story of jam – and assorted other preserves. Histon, a medium-sized village in South Cambridgeshire was for much of the 20th century Britain's leading centre for the manufacture and distribution of jam, under the famous Chivers brand.

The story begins, though, in 1850 with the arrival of the railways and offers a case study in how improved infrastructure stimulates economic activity (yes, this is planning, after all). In 1847, the railway arrived in Histon. Sensing an opportunity, Stephen Chivers bought an orchard neighbouring the railway which gave him access to fruit markets in both London and the north of England. 

In time he sent his sons to Bradford to open a fruit distribution centre. The sons had clearly acquired their father's entrepreneurial tendencies: noting that most of their customers were jam-makers, they figured it would be more profitable to make their own jam and sell that through their distribution networks.

By 1895, the firm had diversified into lemonade, marmalade, mincemeat, custard powder, Christmas puddings and dessert jellies. By 1939, Chivers & Sons owned almost all of the farms around Hilton, was Britain's biggest producer of jams and other preserves and, significantly, were the first large-scale canners in Europe. At this time the business was entirely self-sufficient, growing its own fruit, supplying its own water and even producing its own electricity.

Like many philanthropically-minded businesses that emerged in the late Victorian era, Chivers was extremely generous to its employees. A profit-sharing scheme was introduced as early as 1891; the factory had a nurse, surgery and canteens; and the firm created contributory pensions for employees in the 1930s.

Alas, markets changed post-war and big, big business came calling. The company was sold first to Schweppes and eventually to Premier Foods, which ditched the Chivers brand. Jam is still made in Histon, now under the aegis of the large American company Main Celestial Group. As for Chivers – the brand still exists and gives its name to a range of preserves but is now owned by the Irish Boyne Valley Group. 

Find out more and apply


Location: Eastbourne and Lewes, East Sussex/Hybrid

The job: "Lewes and Eastbourne Council is currently seeking a highly energetic and professional interim head of planning. Your main responsibilities will include:

  • leading the process for development of the local plans, including commissioning of and support for specialists, and focusing on meeting the needs of customers, residents and members 
  • holding a unifying accountability over all aspects of planning strategy, policy and delivery
  • overseeing the planning functions for the two councils working with the director of planning and regeneration and development partners in delivering our regeneration ambitions across the two authorities
  • working closely with the South Downs National Park to ensure two planning authorities for Lewes work well together in terms of delivering spatial and economic development priorities of the local areas
  • providing specialist expertise as required to meet the needs of the planning committee, especially around contentious cases."

Russell and Bromley [square]Fun fact: Another great British brand. Not jams this time, but shoes, and a business you may remember from childhood. After all, generations of schoolchildren have been wearing sensible school shoes from Russell & Bromley almost since the company opened its first shop in Eastbourne in 1880.

The business emerged from a merger, of sorts, after a shoemaker from Lewes, George Bromley, married his boss Alfred Russell’s daughter, Elizabeth. Their son, Frederick, joined the business and opened a second store in Tonbridge in 1898, initiating a wave of expansion across the south of England.

Nowadays, there are 43 stores and the business, remarkably, remains family-owned. Aside from being a parents’ favourite, it's also been cited as the favourite who shop of former prime minister and noted shoe fashionista Theresa May (for whom the company made customer shoes). It's no longer based in Eastbourne, however, but moved back in 1905 to – where else? – Bromley.

Find out more and apply


Location: Harrow, Greater London

The job: "In this leadership role as planning director, you'll play a pivotal role in driving this leading property developer's planning projects to success, fostering client relationships and contributing to the firm's growth. If you have a passion for and deep understanding of UK planning regulations, and a track record of delivering impactful projects, we want to hear from you.
"Key responsibilities include:

  • Leading, managing and contributing technical expertise to the preparation, implementation and presentation of planning projects
  • Providing strategic guidance on planning projects, from inception to completion, ensuring they align with client objectives and regulatory requirements.
  • Developing and maintaining strong relationships with clients, local authorities and key stakeholders.
  • Staying up to date with changes in planning legislation and policies, and applying this knowledge to project work."

Harrow on the hill church [square]Fun fact: When you think of Harrow – pre-1965 part of the former county of Middlesex – you might think of the world-famous public school, Stanmore Common, or the Headstone Manor and Museum.

What you might not associate with the London borough is gruesome apparitions. But, from the haunted bench in Stanmore, to the ghosts of nuns and monks that are said to haunt Canon’s Park and St Mary’s Church at Harrow-on-the-Hill, the saddest story at this last location is about Lord Byron’s daughter, Allegra. 

Clara Allegra Byron was born in 1817 in Bath, when, during a fleeting romance, the randy poet got Claire Clairmont (Mary Shelley’s teenage sister) pregnant. Byron promised to take care of the child. Yeah, some hope – after moving to Italy as a guest of Countess Teresa Guiccioli in Ravenna, he left his daughter at a girls’ boarding school run by nuns in the convent of San Giovanni in Bagnacavallo. On 21 April 1822, Allegra died, aged five, from an unknown illness.

At her mother’s behest, Byron brought her body back to England, and had her buried at the church. During his school years at Harrow between 1801-1805, the teenager would often sit by his favourite tombstone there – it inspired his 1807 poem Lines Written beneath an Elm in the Churchyard of Harrow.

So Allegra was buried in a grave outside the door of the South Porch. As she was illegitimate, the plot remained unmarked until, in 1980, a memorial tablet was erected on the side of the church near to the place she was interred.

Find out more and apply

Image credits | Go My Media, Shutterstock; Bealf Photography, Shutterstock; Biabaz, Shutterstock; Photocritical, Shutterstock; Pawel Piotr, Shutterstock