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The Friday Five 18.08.23

Published on: 18 Aug 2023

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 fun, place-based facts to educate, enthral and entertain. This week, opportunities in Birmingham, Flintshire, Bridgend, Southwark and Newark and Sherwood; plus Brum’s Pre-Raphaelite connection, the amazing Maysie Chalmers and the Welsh sand dunes that stood in for Saudi Arabia in an Oscar-winning film.


Location: Birmingham

The job: "As an associate in the Birmingham City Centre team, you will be supporting the continued growth of a wide-ranging portfolio of clients, predominantly with a focus on strategic land and site specific residential projects and other areas such as employment, leisure industries, and retail.  There will be increasing opportunities to work in conjunction with other offices in specific service sectors such as renewable energy. You will be supported in developing your own client base, and skill sets, as well as having the opportunity to manage your own project workload, and to lead your own project teams within the office.

"This role provides an excellent opportunity to join a well-established, leading independent consultancy seeking to consolidate and expand existing project work. We are an exciting development consultancy to work both for and with. We bring innovative thinking to create beautiful places, enhancing the built and natural environment in a way that positively affects people’s lives. We work across a range of sectors, which includes residential, health, education, retail, energy, leisure and employment, providing innovative and sustainable solutions to the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century."

Pre-Raphaelite painting [square]Fun fact: If you’re a fan of Pre-Raphaelite art, then Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is the place to go, The institution has some 3,000 paintings, sketches and prints as well as many other examples of decorative art and design. 

Though short-lived, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, founded in London in 1849, had a huge influence of Victorian art and design. Its focus on exquisite, highly decorative yet naturalistic details of nature, use of luminescent colours and revival of medieval myth and legend influenced countless painters, designers and writers, including William Morris and J R R Tolkein.

Its not entirely clear why Birmingham should have become such a centre for Pre-Raphaelitism, but two leading figures from the movement, Coley Byrne-Jones and William Morris, visited the Birmingham School of Art in the late 19th century and inspired the students’ work. Byrne-Jones also created the magnificent stained-glass windows in Birmingham Cathedral.

In 1988, the provost of the cathedral, the Very Reverend Peter Berry, founded the Pre-Raphaelite Society, an international organisation of collectors, art specialists, teachers, students and art lovers. 

Find out more and apply


Location: Ty Dewi Sant, Ewloe, Flintshire/Hybrid

The job: "Are you looking to start a career in town planning? This is an exciting opportunity for self-motivated individuals who have an interest in the built environment to join our busy and supportive planning team. You will be dealing with validation and registration of planning related matters together with a caseload of householder and simple planning applications, straightforward planning enforcement cases and pre-application enquiries.

"Experience of working in a planning department or a town planning degree would be desirable but not essential to this role. We’d welcome recent graduates from related disciplines, such as geography. You should be keen to learn and able to adapt to changing demands and situations.

"Welsh speaking and writing skills are desirable. We will also support new and existing employees who wish to learn Welsh or improve/develop their Welsh language skills."

Biplane [square]Fun fact: The multi-talented Maysie Chalmers is perhaps one of the most colourful characters to have come out of Flintshire – in recent times at least. Who? Let me explain.

Born in 1894, in Hawarden, Chalmers was, in turn, an actress, an electrical engineer an designer, an aviator who competed in flying races and a campaigner for the price of electricity to be reduced so that the poorest households could enjoy the benefits of the technology. 

First, acting. Having moved to London at 18, young Maysie was developing a promising career as an actress, with roles in the West End, when war broke out. the practically minded performer took a correspondence course in engineering and embarked on a second career as a specialist in decorative lighting, working with famous artists of the day. She also set up an electrical showroom in London and became involved with the Electrical Association for Women.

In this capacity, she promoted the use of electricity in the home and tried to raise the status of domestic service. It was here that she began to campaign for the price of electricity to be reduced, so that it could become accessible to poorer households. She also campaigned for electricity use in factories, to create cleaner air and healthier working conditions. In 1937 she was appointed as the first lighting art adviser to the British Thomson-Houston company, which was a subsidiary of the General Electric company.

Amid all of this, she also took up flying with her husband and. among other things, made a 3,000-mile trip to Baghdad, Babylon, and Ur. Oh, she was proficient at aircraft maintenance, too.

The amazing Ms Chalmers did many other excellent things, too, lived to 87 and is buried with her second husband in Lyme Regis, Dorset.

Find out more and apply


Location: Bridgend/Hybrid

The job: "Exciting opportunities have arisen for senior planning officers within the development control/management section. Your primary focus will be the processing of a complex and varied caseload in an efficient and timely manner and providing professional pre-application advice to developers in line with statutory deadlines.

"The replacement local development plan is due to be adopted in late 2023/early 2024 and the postholders will be involved with project managing a major planning application on a mixed-use strategic development site.

"This is a responsible role within the section with the opportunity to present at development control committee meetings, supervise and mentor junior members of staff and deputise for the principal planning officer where necessary.

"You will help to ensure that the service continues to make a full contribution to the economic, social and environmental wellbeing of Bridgend County Borough and maintain the local planning authority’s reputation for planning excellence."

Merthyr Mawr sand dunes [square]Fun fact: Bridgend’s Merthyr Mawr sand dunes might not evoke images of the Middle East and the Levant, but they did pass for desert wilderness in scenes for the 1962 film Lawrence of Arabia.

The reason the dunes were able to pass for somewhere so distant (and different) is that they have, in places, a dramatic scale – the ‘Big Dipper’ is some 61 metres high, making it the second-tallest dune in Europe.

Like so many other natural locations in Britain, the dunes are under threat, mostly from human development, including golf courses, but also from the rapid spread of the invasive sea buckthorn – a thorny shrub originally planted to stabilise the dunes.

The dunes, a national nature reserve, are part of a large interdunal wetland that covers 340 hectares, although they would once have spread from the estuary of the River Ogmore (where they survive) to the Gower Peninsula, a minimum of 20 miles in distance.

As you would expect, it’s a site of great historic and natural interest. Finds here include Neolithic flints, Bronze Age burial mounds and Roman tiles and the reserve is homes to stacks of rare plants, flowers and insects. 

Oh, and the dunes did the job: Lawrence of Arabia was nominated for two Oscars in 1963, winning seven. These included Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography. 

Find out more and apply


Location: Southwark, London

The job: "This is a very specific and unique opportunity to take on a role where you will lead on the development of strategies and business planning for the marina, bereavement services and the extensive portfolio of assets that sit within our parks and natural environment team. You will be responsible for the planning, management, monitoring and reporting of large scale budgets covering £5 million per year of council revenue expenditure.

"You will play a key role in the development and delivery of the vision for the leisure division through programmes of work that will help to ensure the sustainability of services through successful income generation, so this is a fantastic opportunity to really make an impact on the area.

"We are looking for someone with a strong asset / facilities management background, capable of managing a busy work schedule and working within a political environment with many different stakeholders.

"You will need a very high level negotiation skills and the ability to lead others and inspire those around you. It is essential that you can demonstrate previous experience managing the level of budget mentioned above."

Globe theatre [square]Fun fact: Shakespeare's Globe theatre – a reconstruction of the original Globe that opened in 1997 – is the only building in Central London with a thatched roof. Even though thatch was a common roofing material in England until relatively recently, it's actually been banned in London since the 1180s. The reason is obvious: fire.

In 1189, under direction from King Henry III, the Assize of Buildings banned all thatched-roof buildings, insisting that thatch be replaced with slate or tile. This is because of the quite regular outbreaks of fire which, aided by thatch, spread rapidly, destroying buildings and costing lives and livelihoods. It wasn’t helped either by the fact that wood was a common building material on the exterior of buildings – restrictions on this followed later.

Plenty of building owners flouted the law. In 1212 another fire cost thousands of lives. City authorities then made it compulsory for all new house to be roofed with tiles, shingles or boards and ordered all remaining thatched roofs to be replaced within eight days or face demolition.

The rules on thatching almost certainly prevented the Great Fire of 1666 from being very much more serious. But, alas, they were tightened further nonetheless, including new regulations that banned the use of wood as an external material on buildings. 

Southwark, on the opposite side of the River Thames, was beyond the City of London’s jurisdiction and was able to be built with a thatched roof when constructed in 1599. Inevitably, it was destroyed by fire just 14 years later, when a theatrical cannon set light to the thatch during a performance. But the theatre was rebuilt and stayed the course until the London theatre closures of 1642, driven by the Puritanical Long Parliament.

The reconstructed Shakespeare's Globe was given special dispensation to have a thatched roof. This modern thatch is well protected by fire retardants, and there are sprinklers on the roof to ensure further protection against fire. So you’re unlikely to go up in flames if you go to see a play there.

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Location: Newark-on-Trent, Nottinghamshire

The job: "Looking to start your career in planning or take the next step? This could be the role for you!

"We are looking for an enthusiastic and committed planner/trainee planner to join our busy planning policy peam. You will be involved in a range of projects including the review of the allocations and development management documents, development of supplementary planning documents, supporting neighbourhood plans and regeneration projects.

"Newark and Sherwood District Council is a dynamic planning authority, with a programme to deliver growth in the context of a fantastic historic and natural environment. Our diverse district offers opportunities to become involved in a range of different areas of planning practice working with officers across the council and the community."

The Major Oak, Sherwood Forest [square]Fun fact: Sherwood Forest’s second-most famous resident (after a certain Robin Hood) is undoubtedly the Major Oak. This is a huge oak tree that’s been standing for anywhere between 800 and 1,100 years, has a trunk circumference of 11 metres, a canopy spread of 28 metres and an estimated weight of 23 tonnes. It’s one of the biggest oak trees in Britain and the most spectacular in the forest, which houses more than 1,000 oaks, making it possibly the best oak site in Europe.

Funnily enough, it's not actually called the Major Oak because of is size – rather as a result of soldier and antiquarian Major Hayman Rooke writing a book about the forest’s oak trees which was published in 1790. The tree, being the largest around, became known as the Major Oak in his honour. 

Of course, there are Robin Hood legends attached to the tree, notably that the gang of outlaws used the canopy for shelter and hid inside its massive trunk. But it’s worth noting that it would have been a young tree in the late 12th century and probably not the kind of place a gang of bandits could hide out in.

Find out more and apply

Image credits | Birmingham Museums-Trust, licensed-under-CC0; iStock; iStock; iStock; iStock; iStock