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The Friday Five 19.05.23

Published on: 19 May 2023

It's the Friday Five, our weekly selection of the top town planning job vacancies on Planner Jobs this week - along with the most interesting things we can find to say about each location. This week, great opportunities in the Cairngorms, Exeter, Swindon, Wexford, Coalville, and the amazing story of the Irish adventurer who may have been the inspiration for Zorro.


Location: Grantown-on-Spey, Moray, Scotland

The job: “The Cairngorms National Park (CNP) is the largest national park in the UK, covering 4500km2. It is also a place of sheer abundance, having more high mountain ground than anywhere else in the UK, the largest Caledonian forest, some of Scotland’s purest rivers and finest livestock rearing farmland. It is home to 25 per cent of the UK’s rare and endangered species. It is a truly unique place to work, with our dedicated and passionate planning and place directorate who are committed to delivering a high quality planning service, every day. Furthermore, there is access to some of the most beautiful countryside straight from our headquarters office door.

“As a planning officer (development management) you will undertaking planning casework, including the assessment of planning applications in relation to the development plan and the National Park’s policy framework, the preparation and presentation of reports to the CNPA’s planning committee and undertaking planning condition approval, pre-application consultations and non-material variations.

“You will also undertake and assist with work across the other functions of the planning service, including monitoring and enforcement and development planning.”

Pine Marten [square]Fun fact: Where to begin with the Cairngorms? It’s possibly the most important natural location in the UK and here’s why:

  • It’s the UK’s largest national park and, at 4,528km2 is twice the size of the Lake District National Park. It's also bigger than Luxembourg
  • Nearly half is regarded to be of international importance for nature and there are nine national nature reserves in the park.
  • It’s home to four of the five highest mountains in the UK and more than half of the surviving Caledonian forest is in the park
  • The Cairngorms is also home to a quarter of the UK’s rare and endangered animal, insect, fungi and plant species
  • The rare and endangered species that inhabit the national park include capercaillie, pine marten, osprey, Scottish wildcat, golden eagle, red squirrel, snow bunting, lapwing, crested tit, dotterel and black grouse (take a walk from Grantown down to the River Spey through Anagach Woods and there’s a good chance of spotting red squirrels, capercaillie and even an otter in the Spey itself)

Unsurprisingly, the Cairngorms is also the focus of the UK’s largest rewilding project – the 200-year Cairngorms Connect project, which you can read about here.

Find out more and apply


Location: Exeter, Devon

The job: “A growing planning consultancy with four regional offices in Devon, South Wales, West Midlands and London, is seeking a director in its Exeter office. The consultancy currently operates across rural, retail, residential and minerals and waste planning, but welcomes new business sectors.

“As director your main responsibilities will be:

  • Business development
  • Meet fee earning targets
  • Optimise new business and cross-selling opportunities
  • Lead projects
  • Manage budgets
  • Negotiate, draft, and provide legal instructions to facilitate the preparation of planning agreements and infrastructure funding deeds
  • Mentor and support colleagues."

The house that moved [square]Fun fact: Take a walk down West Street in Exeter and you may see a 14th-century Tudor building (currently home to a wedding dress shop) known locally as ‘the house that moved’. How so? Well, it was literally moved from one part of Exeter town centre to another to make way for a new road.

The house, built around 1450 and thus one of Devon’s oldest timber-framed houses, stood originally in Frog Street in the town and was known as ‘Merchant House’. In the late 1950s, the local council embarked on a plan to improve traffic flow through Exeter by creating a bypass. This involved the total demolition of Frog Street.

A campaign was mounted to save the house, which succeeded in getting it listed, but the plan to build the road was considered immovable – unlike the house itself. In 1961, with the help of a government grant, the house was moved in its entirety to a new location 70 metres away on West Street.
This remarkable feat was accomplished by literally putting the house on wheels. It was stripped to its frame, protected with a timber casing, jacked up on wheels and then moved. The house itself weighted 21 tons, the protective casing another 10 and the whole delicate operation took six days. Amazing.

Find out more and apply


Location: Swindon, Wiltshire

The job: “We have a clear vision of what we want the future to look like and are ranked in the top 10 most highly innovative areas in the UK as we look for an enthusiastic planning enforcement officer to join our team who will play an important part in all the planning enforcement functions of the council.

“This is an exciting opportunity for a senior planning enforcement officer to join our regulatory services team in a key role supporting the council to manage a diverse caseload of planning enforcement activities which is a vital and high profile part of the planning process

“You will manage a small team and bring your knowledge and experience of relevant legislation relating to planning enforcement under the town and country planning act to a local authority where you will manage your own workload to meet targets, working in the office and on site.”

Virgin Scarlet Lady [square]
Fun fact: The famous Scarlet Lady symbol that has historically adorned Virgin Atlantic aircraft was created by a Swindon based muralist called Ken White. White, who was born in the town in 1943, was for some time the personal artist to Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson and painted a mural at Virgin’s Goldhawk Studios in Shepherd’s Bush and others for hotels and airport lounges.

Branson had encountered White’s work because of the extensive news coverage of the artist’s huge Golden Lion Bridge mural in the town, created in his role as a community artist. White went on to paint a large number of murals across the UK.

When Virgin launched an airline in 1976, Branson turned to White, who based the Scarlet Lady motif on those found on wartime bombers which were themselves based on the 1930s and 40s pin-up paintings of Alberto Vargas. He even painted some directly onto the noses of the airline’s 747s.

The Scarlet Lady became a key symbol for the company. Nowadays it’s been updated to a more inclusive range of ‘flying icons’.

Find out more and apply


Location: Dublin, Wexford

The job: “The planning advisory division is a division within the environment protection, circular economy and governance section of the department, and it was established to support timely and effective engagement by DECC with the marine and terrestrial planning system, in order to support delivery of the department’s statement of strategy, and, in particular, its key strategic sections (KSAs).

“Reporting to the principal officer, the planning advisor will work in close collaboration with colleagues to develop, deliver and support the strategies and objectives of the planning advisory division and the wider department. They will be involved with the implementation of the climate action plan and will also provide planning advice to all other divisions in the furthering of the government’s policies in these areas.”

Zorro symbol [square]Fun fact: Astonishingly, the fictional character of Zorro, a masked pro-Mexican freedom fighter in 19th-century California, is very likely based on an irish Catholic adventurer born in Wexford in the early 17th century.
William Lamport, known in Mexico as 'Don Guillén de Lamport (or Lombardo) y Guzmán', claimed to be a bastard son of King Philip III of Spain and therefore the half-brother of King Philip IV and attempted to foment a rebellion against the Spanish crown in 1642 with the aid of black and indigenous people.

He was arrested, tried by the Mexican Inquisition and spent 17 years in jail before being executed in 1759.

But how did an Irishman end up trying to start a rebellion in Mexico? Long story short, he received a Jesuit education in Spain, joined the Spanish military, ended up at the Spanish court, may have been exiled to New Spain (Mexico) on account of getting a young woman pregnant but refusing to marry her, and once there attempted to overthrow the viceroy with help from indigenous people and other oppressed groups.

Although this all sounds quite mad, he was apparently a highly educated man with a well-formed political philosophy and a genuine concern for the indigenous people of Mexico whom he felt were illegitimately ruled by Spain. Over time, he became something of a cult figure, culminating in his recasting as the fictional Zorro, the creation of the American writer Johnston McCulley. Zorro, which is Spanish for ‘fox’, is a masked vigilante standing up for the oppressed in late 18th/early 19th-century California. The character became wildly popular, spurring novels, films and television series. And it all began with an Irish Catholic from Wexford with a rebellious streak.

Find out more and apply


Location: Coalville, Leicestershire

The job: “North West Leicestershire is an exciting place to work! We have lots going on just now in terms of development in the district and we have an opportunity for a compliance/enforcement officer to join us to help ensure that development is being built as it should in line with approved plans and, should it not be, to find ways to resolve this through effective negotiation and the use of enforcement powers. 

“The district is varied and includes both urban and rural areas and contains attractive settlements that are within conservation areas with many listed buildings which will provide you with the opportunity to develop and hone your planning enforcement skills.

“The successful applicant must be customer focussed, a team player with demonstrable experience of effective enforcement work either within the planning profession or in another profession where your skills will be transferable.”

Action Man [square]
Fun fact:  Action Man, the UK version of the American GI Joe, a kids’ doll based on a range of male action stereotypes (soldiers mainly, but also cowboys) – and which was incredibly popular in the 1970s (your author *may* have owned one) – came from Coalville in Leicestershire.

That’s not to say that the character had some weird fictional biography that placed him at the heart of the UK coal mining industry; rather, that the toy’s manufacturer, Palitoy, was based in the town from 1919 until 1994. Palitoy was also responsible for manufacturing (often under licence) various other dolls and figures such as Pippa, the Care Bears and Star Wars action figures. The firm also made Play-Doh and the handheld Merlin computer game (which predated Xbox and the like by, ooh!, a couple of decades).

The firm actually started life as the Cascelloid Company and was founded by Alfred Edward Pallett to produce celluloid and fancy goods. Its first toy was made in 1920 and its first doll in 1925.

Cascelloid was bought in 1931 by British Xylonite and the word ‘Palitoy’ was created as a trademark in 1935 for its toy division. Injection moulding was developed by British Xylonite in 1941 and was subsequently used for the Palitoy toy ranges.

Like many brands, Palitoy was bought and sold many times over the years and finally founds its way to Hasbro, which closed the Coalville site and shifted manufacturer of the maker’s last product, Play-Doh, to Ireland – an ignominious end, perhaps, for the once noble (cough) Action Man. 

Coalville Business Park now stands on the site of the former Palitoy factory, where a green plaque has been mounted by the county council to thank the firm for “stoking children’s imaginations”.

Find out more and apply

Image credits | iStock; Victoria Hunter, Shutterstock; iStock; Featureflash Photo Agency, Shutterstock; iStock;