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The Friday Five 14.06.24

Published on: 14 Jun 2024

It's The Friday Five, our weekly round-up of five of the best town planning jobs currently advertised on Planner Jobs – plus some fun, educational, amusing and entertaining place-based facts. This week, opportunities in Blaby, Birmingham, Fareham, Hull and London. Plus, the grim tale of the first DNA-based conviction, the brick that props up Brum, the UK's search and rescue service, Hull's dislike of the monarchy and a high-profile planning controversy in London’s West End.


Location: Narborough, Leicestershire

The job: "We're looking for a talented, ambitious and qualified senior planning officer for a varied and busy role in which you’ll be responsible for actively contributing to the efficient operation of the planning service and providing exceptional customer service to both internal and external stakeholders, including councillors.

"We're a forward thinking, innovative and fun team, offering a great working environment, a wide range of projects, and career development opportunities – in July 2023 we were announced as the East Midlands Local Planning Authority of the Year in the RTPI Awards.

"We have experience of, and continue to deal with, a comprehensive range of development types, ranging from bespoke rural schemes to large scale commercial development and a 4,250 home new community which is currently under construction. You won’t find a typical planning team approach with us – we're positive, customer focused and passionate about creating a great place to live, work and visit."

DNA [square]Fun fact: A grim story to begin, yet a very significant one. Narborough has an association with a radical breakthrough in crime detection – the first conviction for murder secured using DNA profiling. 

It is, as we said, a grim tale and we’ll gloss over the details. In 1983, a school girl was murdered in Narborough. Three years later, another 15-year-old girl was murdered in nearby Enderby. Initially, a 17-year-old boy was arrested and he even confessed to one of the killings but, in the early days of using DNA analysis in crime detection, he was cleared on the basis of DNA evidence.

It was the mass DNA screening of the entire community that led detectives to the actual killer, Colin Pitchfork. With all leads hitting a dead end, in early 1987 police asked all local men between 16 and 34 to voluntarily give a blood sample for DNA testing for comparison against DNA found at the crime scenes.

On 1 August, a colleague of Pitchfork's at the bakery where he worked, admitted to fellow workers during a session at a local pub that he had posed as Pitchfork for the blood test. Pitchfork had made up an excuse that he didn’t want to be harassed by police because of previous convictions. One of his colleagues, a woman, finally reported the statement to police a few weeks later.

Pitchfork was arrested in the September and in January 1988 sentenced to life imprisonment for two murders.

The procedure for DNA profiling had, coincidentally, been developed in the UK in 1985 by another local man – Sir Alec Jeffreys, who worked in the Department of Genetics at the University of Leicester just six miles from where the killings took place. It was Jeffreys’ team that conducted the analysis of Pitchfork's blood that led to his conviction. 

DNA profiling has now became a staple of crime detection and has even helped to capture serial killers who have excepted detection for decades – including, most dramatically, the notorious Golden State Killer in the USA, finally arrested decades after his killing spree.

Find out more and apply


Location: Birmingham or Northstowe

The job: "We're expanding our Southern regional team Homes England with an opportunity to shape the future of housing delivery through working on some of the largest and most exciting developments in the country in a national organisation with real social purpose.

"Working in a team with a head of development and a senior planning and enabling manager, you'll play a critical role in planning and delivering homes on public land as part of major new communities, including Northstowe near Cambridge. This is a rare opportunity to influence new town design at an early stage and support the development of a strong community. 

"You will be joining a small but highly skilled and friendly team committed to making positive change in how land is unlocked to deliver new homes in great neighbourhoods. 

"Working with key stakeholders, the community and a professional team of surveyors, planners and urban designers, you'll use experience and creative thinking to get land allocated for development, masterplan new communities and secure planning permissions on the way to creating successful new communities where people want to live."

Red brick [square]Fun fact: Visit Birmingham and you usually can’t help but spot Old Joe. Not a person, but the university’s 100-metre-tall clock tower, named after Joseph Chamberlain, father of Neville, and former mayor of Birmingham. There’s a tradition that students will fail their degrees if they walk beneath the tower’s arch as the clock chimes. 

The largest free-standing clock tower in the world, Old Joe is made up of a particular type of brick – Accrington brick. Though a red clay brick may not be the most exciting thing in the world, the humble Accrington – famed for its strength – props up the Empire State Building, the Blackpool Tower, Battersea Power Station and it provided solid foundations for dancers in Manchester’s Hacienda nightclub. 

The bricks are also known as ‘Nori’, but no one is quite sure why. It’s nothing to do with the seaweed variety used in sushi, but one theory is that the letters IRON were accidentally placed backwards in the brick moulds, thus spelling NORI.

Find out more and apply


Location: Fareham, Hampshire

The job: "We're looking for a positive, enthusiastic and proactive planner to join our organisation and play a key role in shaping the future of the borough. As a team leader within our development management service, you'll work alongside two existing team leaders in taking responsibility for the day-to-day management of the team, providing guidance to planners of varying experience, along with officers providing business support to the development management service.

"You'll deal with a personal caseload of major planning applications, including those which are of high corporate importance, those which cover a wide breadth of planning issues and those which can often prove controversial. For complex and high-profile planning appeals, especially those being dealt with at public local inquiries, you'll provide oversight of the council’s case, liaising with consultants appointed on behalf of the council, as well as those representing appellants.

"We strive to secure high quality, sustainable development within the borough, and you'll play a substantial part in us achieving this."

Rescue helicopter [square]Fun fact: If you should ever find yourself lost at sea round the British coast, you’ll have some good folk in Fareham to thank for your rescue. For it’s here that you’ll find the HQ of the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC), which is responsible for coordinating all Maritime and Coastguard Agency Search and Rescue helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.

The ARCC is responsible for search and rescue (excluding mountain rescue) in an area in and around the United Kingdom that stretches from 30 degrees west in longitude and from 45 to 62 degrees north in latitude (almost as far as the Faroe Islands). It’s a huge zone covering almost a million square miles and reaching halfway across the North Atlantic.

The ARCC operates two different types of helicopter, with a range of up to 250 miles, and two different types of fixed-wing aircraft based in Doncaster, one of which can travel as far as 400 miles from home. Helicopters are located at 11 airports dotted around the British coast, from Newquay to the Shetland Islands.

The service deals with more than 2,000 incidents a year, from train crashes to flooding to disasters at sea. Ironically, you can’t even see the sea from the ARCC, which is based on a business park a few miles inland...

Find out more and apply


Location: Hull

The job: "An exciting opportunity has arisen to head up the planning service in Hull following the retirement of the current postholder. In this role, you'll be responsible for leading the review of the 2017 local plan. In the last decade Hull has seen unprecedented levels of investment, bringing more than £6 billion into the city. This has included record levels of housing delivered, £0.5bn of investment from Siemens Games and £0.5bn from the University of Hull. Reckitt opened their global R&D facility in the last ive years, not to mention the success of City of Culture.  Positive change is occurring, and we want you to ensure this continues.

"You'll lead the city’s next stage of transformation and play a pivotal role in continuing Hull’s journey through devolution with our neighbours the East Riding of Yorkshire Council and leading on the development and implementation of a city centre Masterplan. We're looking for a strong leader to continue the planning services success in providing high quality development which has secured employment and training provision for the city."

P Maxwell Photography, Shutterstock [square]Fun fact: Hull City F.C. The University of Hull. Hull railway station. If you refer to the East Riding of Yorkshire’s only city in conversation, you’d more than likely continue in the fine tradition of eschewing its full name – Kingston upon Hull – and just say ‘Hull’. 

The unpopularity of Hull’s full name is owed in part to a subversive streak in the city. Phillip Larkin, poet and librarian at the university, said: “It is a little on the edge of things, I think even its natives would say that. I rather like being on the edge of things”, and the city continues to relish this individualistic tendency. 

It all goes back to etymology; Kingston upon Hull comes from King’s Town, which dates back to 1299; and Hull has a history of anti-monarchism. When Charles I marched on the town, the townspeople barred the gates and fired on his forces, in what some consider to be the first action of the English Civil War.

The city was bombed heavily during the Second World War, but didn’t receive the same level of recognition and sympathy as London; when George VI visited, the locals gave him a lukewarm reception. 

The attitude continues today – Hull was the only council in the country that didn’t receive a single application for a street party to celebrate the Royal Wedding in 2011.  

Find out more and apply


Location: London

The job: "We're looking for an enthusiastic planning officer, keen to work in the EV infrastructure industry and help develop multi-million pound projects. 

"The EV Network, founded in 2017, is a leading independent EV charging infrastructure development company, delivering a range of EV charging infrastructure services across the UK. This position is in our pre-construction team which helps to deliver planning approvals on a variety of development projects, from EV chargers on existing retail sites through to submitting planning for new retail developments that have EV charging at their heart.

"Your responsibilities will include the full range of tasks involved in preparing applications, from preparing and managing planning documentation through communicating with stakeholders, conducting pre-application site reviews, liaising with contractors, collaborating on design and conducting site visits to ensure an accurate application.

"You'll also be expected to contribute to work across all areas of the operations team, while gaining additional exposure to related areas such as finance, legal and sales."

Park House [square]Fun fact: If you were to work for The EV Network Ltd, you’d not only be working in an extremely modern and environmentally high-performing building, you'd also get to see one of the big environmental planning issues of the day play out more or less in front of your eyes. For The EV Network is based in Park House on Oxford Street, just a hop and skip from Marble Arch.

Guess what's across the road? Yup, THAT M&S store that’s at the centre of a major planning tussle between M&S and the secretary of state. As we know, M&S wants to pull the Art Deco building down and replace it with something more modern and with a higher environmental performance rating. Opponents of this move cite the importance of refurbishing and reusing existing buildings, in order not to release their embodied carbon but also to fight back against a principle of disposability in the built environment; in many ways, the building has become the poster child for the almost existential debate around this issue. 

The secretary of state, however, is more concerned with the heritage impacts of demolishing the building. And this is an area with heritage in abundance. Marble Arch is a two-minute walk away, if that. Hyde Park perhaps three minutes. Grosvenor Square, formerly home to the US Embassy, is just down the road. Indeed, Park House is far and away the most modern thing in the area and sits like a glimmering, glittering glass-and-steel spaceship amid the sandstone blocks, red brick and ornamentation of the very traditional West End surrounding area. 

Find out more and apply

Image credits | Shutter2U, iStock; RT Images, Shutterstock; Lukassek, Shutterstock; P Maxwell Photography, Shutterstock;, Shutterstock