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The Friday Five 18.11.22

Published on: 17 Nov 2022


Location: Ellesmere Port, Cheshire/flexible

The job: “Our busy planning team is looking for a friendly, motivated and skilled individual to work on a wide variety of planning enforcement cases and help us ensure that development is carried out sustainably across the borough.

“For our planning officer (enforcement) role, you are expected to have good practical planning experience in a local authority, preferably including experience of successfully carrying out planning enforcement action. Most of all, we are seeking a confident, self-motivated and diplomatic person with a ‘can-do’ attitude.  

“Your main responsibilities will be to manage and resolve planning enforcement cases and from time to time you may also be asked to assist our planning applications teams, and to represent the council at appeals. 

“We are a friendly, supportive and innovative planning team offering the opportunity to get involved in a great variety of residential, commercial/industrial and countryside sites, protecting urban and rural areas, including green belt ,and preserving and enhancing our distinct heritage – including the walled city of Chester with its concentration of listed buildings.” 

christmas tree [square]Fun fact: Planning permission for a Christmas tree? Why yes, if your tree happens to be 27 metres high, 10 metres wide, weighs 18 tons and is decorated with more than 100,000 lights.

This would be a fair description of what is claimed to be the UK’s largest artificial Christmas tree, erected annually at Cheshire Oaks Designer Outlet in Ellesmere Port since 2008.

It’s so big, in fact, that its heavy steel structure sits on 12 concrete piles sunk more than 10 metres into the bedrock. It’s held together by 1.9 kilometres of cabling, half a ton of nuts and bolts and is designed to withstand a one in 100-year storm. We’re guessing that was a condition of the planning permission. It’ll also cope with “many tons” of snow. Of course.

Apparently, it initially took 15 workers five days to erect the tree. One is quoted in the Daily Mail as saying “We even had to check to see if we needed to put a red light on top so aircraft didn’t fly into it.”

Christmas. Comes earlier every year, doesn’t it?

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Location: Maidstone, Kent/Flexible

The job: “Maidstone Borough Council has a positive growth agenda. One of the key priorities within our strategic plan is to “Embrace Growth and Enable Infrastructure”, and this new role has been created to achieve that ambition.

“We are making excellent progress towards completing our local plan review in 2023, and the successful applicant will take over the stewardship of this work and all subsequent local plan reviews. The council is very much committed to developing and expanding its plan-making capacity, and other workstreams for the postholder will include taking forward our Design and Quality DPD, as well as masterplanning and design code work for key site allocations within our local plan.

“The local plan review itself contains two garden communities, and should these ultimately go forward, the postholder will have a pivotal role to play in working with site promoters to create supplementary planning guidance. Furthermore, the postholder will be responsible for taking forward Maidstone’s Town Centre Strategy. 

“We have recently refreshed our economic development strategy and this enables a focus on delivery. There are several employment sites within the borough, and the postholder will lead our own ED team and work closely with site owners to bring these opportunities to fruition.”

river [square]Fun fact: Let’s imagine that you come from the county of Kent. Are you a Kentish Man or Maid? Or are you a Man or Maid of Kent? The answer to this question depends on whether you were born on the east or west side of the River Medway, which flows through the centre of Maidstone.

If you were born on the east side of the Medway (and in Kent, obvs), you may refer to yourself as a Man of Kent or a Maid of Kent. Born on the west side? Then you’re a Kentish Man or Maid.

Apparently the origin of this classification can be traced back to the early occupation of Kent by Germanic tribes from across the North Sea. Jutes settled to the east of the Medway; Saxons to the west. As time went on, this original tribal division solidified into the Man of Kent/Kentish Man distinction.

It’s suggested that this was reinforced during the Norman Conquest, giving rise to a certain amount of snobbery. The story goes that, as William was creating a safe passage from England to France for his army and administrators, the Men of Kent (east of the Medway) refused to let his soldiers pass without being allowed to keep certain traditional rights and privileges. 

The Normans acquiesced and so Kent retained the ancient inheritance law of gavelkind (goods distributed among all children) rather than the Norman law of primogeniture (property passed to the oldest child). The steadfast Men of Kent also assumed a certain superiority over the milder Kentish Men, who let the Normans through without a fight.

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Location: Croydon, London

The job: “This post offers an exciting opportunity to join Croydon’s spatial planning service, and placemaking team within it, which brings together the disciplines of conservation, urban design, architecture, landscape architecture and planning policy. Our task is to champion the heritage of Croydon, guide heritage-led regeneration, enable good design and placemaking

“Croydon has a surprisingly rich and varied built heritage. This includes the highly significant Old Palace School (former Archbishop’s Palace), Croydon Minster, and 16th century Whitgift Almshouses (all Grade I Listed), as well as a particularly fine concentration of Victorian architecture in the town centre. The borough is diverse, ranging from dense London suburban development in the north to the leafy green belt in the south. Croydon is also increasingly being recognised for its post-war 20th century heritage,

“You will be involved in a wide range of spatial planning, placemaking and development management projects including strategic plans, planning applications and capital projects. You will lead in placing heritage at the heart of the borough’s plans, and its growth.”

book [square]Fun fact: Croydon, it turns out, has been home to not one, but two, of the greatest detective novelists of all time – one claimed by the United States, one by the United Kingdom.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes, lived in Croydon from 1891-94. Holmes was already an established and popular character; but Conan Doyle himself had become ambivalent about his creation and it was during his time in Croydon that he wrote The Final Problem, in which Homes plunged to his presumed death in the Reichenbach Falls.

Chandler is perhaps the more surprising resident. Born in 1888 in Chicago to an American father and Irish mother, he was schooled from the age of 12 at Dulwich College and lived in Upper Norwood with his maternal grandmother.

In 1907 the still teenaged Chandler became a naturalised Briton in order to take the civil service examination and he then worked in the Admiralty for a year, before pursuing a short-lived career as a journalist with the Daily Express and the Westminster Gazette.

In 1912 he returned to the United States. After war service, he became – of all things – an oil company executive and didn’t actually start writing fiction until he was 44, to make money after losing his job during the Great Depression. though he wrote ‘pulp’ detective fiction, in truth Chandler’s work is erudite, literary, stylish and shows a fantastic ear for sharp dialogue and tough, striking imagery: “Dead men are heavier than broken hearts”.

Perhaps his most famous creation is Philip Marlowe, the cynical but honourable detective played most notably by Humphrey Bogart in The Big Sleep, a movie we can hardly commend enough. There’s now a blue plaque in Upper Norwood marking Chandler’s association with the area.

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Location: Yate, South Gloucestershire

The job: “As a senior planning enforcement officer you will make a difference by enabling South Gloucestershire to be a safe place to live, visit and work in.
“This is a varied role, so you will not be limited to investigating allegations of breaches of planning control; you will also determine planning applications, defend appeals and pursue legal enforcement proceedings through court proceedings.

“It will be your responsibility to manage 60- 80 case assignments at all levels of complexity, working towards resolutions effectively and efficiently and to support others in your team as required. You will participate in formulation of service objectives and policies, monitoring, and review of performance to ensure targets are met.”

road [square]Fun fact: Yate has an actual road to nowhere. That is to say, it has a stretch of dual carriageway several hundred metres long that leads – well, nowhere. The carriageway was intended to form part of a ring road, but was abandoned shortly after starting in 1974 because a rise in the international price of steel meant the council could no longer afford to build a bridge over a railway that would have allowed the road to link up with the rest of the bypass scheme.

Several attempts have been made to revive the scheme but to no avail. Yate’s MP Luke Hall is a keen proponent of finishing the project but, as yet, nothing. In the meantime, however, the unfinished carriageway, flanked by common land, has become a source of income for South Gloucestershire Council as a film set.

Scenes from Doctor Who have been shot here, for example. The road to nowhere also featured in the most expensive scene ever shot for the BBC’s long-running serial Casualty. The makers of the show actually built a temporary bridge over the carriageway for a scene of total vehicular carnage that involved an HGV overturning at speed and exploding. This is Casualty, right, not The A Team.

Anyway, if you want to watch a short video about the road to nowhere, here's one shot by YouTuber Tom Scott.

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Location: Dover, Kent/Remote

The job: “This is an exciting time to join our team and to make a valuable contribution to the development, examination, and subsequent adoption of the new local plan. We are currently carrying out the Regulation 19 consultation with the aim to submit for examination next year. Therefore, we are looking for experienced planning policy professionals who can hit the ground running and have the ability to play an integral role in this important part of the plan making process.

“Dover District is an exciting place to come and work, live and enjoy life. The area is steeped in history, with the iconic White Cliffs, Dover Castle and the historic coastal towns of Dover, Deal and Sandwich. The district is amongst one of the most attractive and diverse in Kent and offers a stimulating and varied range of environments and opportunities within which to develop and advance your planning career.”

vinyl record [square]Fun fact: There must be something about the sound of Dover that inspires. Perhaps it’s the sea. Victorian poet Matthew Arnold evocatively described its “melancholy, long withdrawing roar” in Dover Beach. But another Dover resident took things considerably further; he didn’t just want to describe sounds, but capture them and store them for posterity, in their millions.

Born in 1913, sound archivist Patrick Saul grew up in a house that overlooked the seafront, from where he could hear the sound of a brass band playing in the summer. He developed a love for recorded music, avidly collecting records and listening to overseas radio stations.

His idea to create a national sound archive stemmed from his inability as a teenager to buy a particular recording because it was no longer on sale. Discomposed by the idea that a record could just vanish, he went to the British Library to ask if he could listen to it in their record archive, only to be told that they didn’t have one. A lifelong pursuit was born.

By 1955, he and other sound specialists had raised enough money to lease premises where they could locate an archive. This was, initially, largely composed of Saul’s own collection of recordings. But the British Institute of Recorded Sound was quickly swamped with donated records from members of the public and their work began in earnest.

In time the BIRS built an enormous archive of recorded sound, from music to drama and literature, dialects, oral history and wildlife. Saul’s favourite recording is said to have been the sound of haddock mating.

In 1987 the BIRS became the National Sound Archive and part of the British Library at last – almost 60 years after Saul’s initial inquiry. The NSA is now one of the world’s largest sound archives, with more than a million discs and 175,000 tapes.

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Image credits | iStock; Shutterstock