It’s the Friday Five: five of the best planning jobs on Planner Jobs this week, and some ‘fun’ facts to, in the spirit of the Reithian BBC, inform, educate and entertain you. Or bore you. Probably bore you, to be honest.
1. PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT MANAGER, NEWPORT CITY COUNCIL
Location: Newport (Casnewydd), Wales
The job: “Newport City Council is looking to recruit a planning and development manager based within the regeneration and economic development service area. This is an exciting opportunity for the right person to fulfil the role of chief planning officer and lead our busy planning and building control teams as we work in partnership to make a positive difference to Newport and its residents.
“Newport is a modern and ambitious city with bold future plans for major urban regeneration, development and growth. We want to create a sustainable and proud Newport where placemaking and resilience is at the heart of what we do. We are seeking a highly motivated, positive and pragmatic person to be our next planning and development manager. We want someone with commitment and passion to help us ensure that our city thrives. As the council’s chief planning officer, you will be a chartered town planner with a proven track record in the delivery of planning services. You will be responsible for overseeing the delivery of the various functions associated with planning and building control, including planning policy, conservation and technical support.”
Fun fact: Newport is home to one of the oddest – and smallest – theatres in the UK. The Phyllis Maud Performance Space is in a converted grade II listed Victorian public toilet and seats roughly 25 to 30 people.
Opened in 2019, it’s the inspiration of local arts administrator Janet Martin. Janet, who also runs the nearby Barnabas Arts Centre in Pill, bought the “cute and quirky” lavatory from Newport City council when it came on the market in 2017. She then set about carrying out essential structural repairs while waiting for planning permission to come through for the conversion.
The Phyllis Maud Performance Space is named after Janet’s aunt and, while retaining as much of the original fabric as possible (such as the lovely Victorian tiles), boasts a stage, a balcony and seating for up to 35 people.
In addition to providing a cosy space in which inexperienced performers can hone their skills and build their confidence, Martin told her local paper back in 2018 that she hoped to conduct ‘Dragon’s Den-style’ events for local businesses.
One proviso – the website is down and we’ve been unable to find anything relating to recent information or performances, so we’re wondering if the venue is actually still open. Which would be shame, because it looks brilliant.
Find out more and apply
2. PLANNING OFFICER x2 & URBAN DESIGNER, TEWKESBURY BOROUGH COUNCIL
Location: Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire
The job: “Would you like to help shape growth in one of the fastest-growing districts in the country?
“Tewkesbury Borough is experiencing significant growth, and alongside being identified as having the strongest economy in the UK last year, it is also home to two garden community programmes and has a very impressive strategic location.
“We have ambitious plans to support this growth, and a clear commitment to place-making and creating sustainable, well-designed and vibrant communities where people can live, work and raise families.
“All this means Tewkesbury Borough is a really exciting place to be for planners like you - and we invite you to come and join us as we achieve our ambitions. Wherever you are in your career journey, we’ll support you to develop.”
Fun fact: At one time Tewkesbury was famous for its mustard – so famous, in fact, that it was namechecked in Shakespeare’s Henry IV part II in which Falstaff says: “He a good wit? Hang him, baboon. His wit’s as thick as Tewksbury mustard. There’s no more conceit in him than is in a mallet.”
Tewkesbury Mustard is, in fact, a blend of mustard flour and grated horseradish root which, by the 17th century, had become a staple of English kitchens.
According to Wikipedia, the paste formed by the flour and root was rolled into balls that were dried to aid preservations. It would be transported and sold in this form. To be used, the balls would be broken apart and mixed with liquid, which might include water, vinegar, wine, ale or cider. Sometimes honey would be added. It was then ready for use as a condiment.
In 1972, the mustard was revived to the original recipe and sold commercially as part of celebrations marking the anniversary of the consecration of the town’s abbey. It’s still possible to buy handmade mustard balls made with local ingredients in the town.
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3. PLANNING POLICY MANAGER, WORCESTER CITY COUNCIL
Location: Worcester, Worcestershire
The job: “It is a very exciting time to join Worcester City Council as we move forward with our ambitious plans for the city. We have been extremely successful in attracting over £40m of Government funding and we are working to help deliver multi-million pound regeneration schemes.
“We are passionate about our city, committed to seeking excellence in everything we do and want to make Worcester an even more vibrant and dynamic place to live, work and visit. Looking ahead we are committed to making Worcester a unique tourist destination. We are also very serious about our commitment to the environment and the need to ensure our beautiful city is conserved but is ready to meet the needs of future generations.
“To deliver our aspirations for the city, to meet high levels of housing need, including affordable housing, provide new employment space, new and improved infrastructure and community facilities, all whilst protecting and enhancing the environment and adapting to climate change, we need a talented planning policy manager working with us to help make this happen.”
Fun fact: Worcester was the birthplace of one of the most famous – and highest-paid – female stars of the great age of the music hall. Born in the town in 1864, Matilda Alice Powles was better known by her stage name Vesta Tilley, under which she performed as a male impersonator. For several decades, she was a massive star, in both Britain and the United States.
Matilda first appeared on stage at the age of three. By six, she was performing as a boy under the name Pocket Sims Reeves, a parody of the opera star Sims Reeves. At 11, she debuted in London as Vesta Tilley – Vesta named after the matches, Tilley as a shortening of Matilda. By this point her father had become her full-time manager and she was supporting her family with her stage earnings.
She was best known for impersonating well-known male ‘types’ and singing comic numbers – Burlington Bertie was a particular favourite. Such was her artistry that her fame spread far and wide. In 1890 she married son of a theatre owner (and later a Conservative MP) Walter de Frece. De Frece founded the Hippodrome chain of venues, where Vesta Tilley was a regular performer.
She became famous in the US as a vaudevillian, as well as the UK and performed at the first Royal Variety Performance in 1912 as '‘The Piccadilly Johnny with the Little Glass Eye’. Her fame perhaps peaked during the First World War, when she and her husband ran a military recruitment drive and she performed in military garb as Tommy in the Trench, amongst others. She was also known to perform to the wounded in hospitals.
Matilda made her last performance in 1920 at the Coliseum Theatre, London, at the age of 56. For the rest of her life she lived as Lady de Frece (her husband was knighted for his war efforts), first in Monte Carlo and later in London. She died in 1952, aged 88.
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4. SENIOR PLANNING OFFICER (ENFORCEMENT), WALSALL COUNCIL
Location: Walsall, West Midlands
The job: “We are looking for a highly motivated team member to join our development management team within the planning and building control service area.
Walsall is a regional town with a rich history and a bright future with potential to deliver significant development and investment projects and is working in collaboration with the West Midlands Combined Authority and other public partners to deliver regeneration projects. Walsall Council has been awarded £11.4m from central government for the Future High Street Fund Programme; and Walsall and Bloxwich town areas stand to benefit from £21.3m each of Town Deal funding to deliver urban regeneration, green transport and economic growth.
“Dealing with a varied caseload of planning and enforcement work, you must be able to demonstrate significant development management enforcement experience and have excellent communication and customer service skills. The role includes providing advice in respect of planning and enforcement law, policy and guidance to customers, including members and other staff, and to follow statutory procedures and local practice to achieve corporate objectives. You will also be required to prepare and present the Council’s case at relevant appeal procedures including public inquiries.”
Fun fact: A brief detour to etymology corner. The nicknames of football teams will often give important clues to the industries on which a town or city’s prosperity was built. Think of Luton Town FC, otherwise known as The Hatters; or Yeovil Town (the Glovers) or even Norwich City (the Canaries). This week, let’s take a look at Walsall FC – aka ‘the Saddlers’.
What does this tell us? Well, obviously, that saddlemaking was (and perhaps still is) a major industry in Walsall. Indeed, its history can be tentatively traced back to the Middle Ages, when there was a plethora of related industries in the area, such as stirrup, spur and buckle makers – all the metal bits associated with horse riding.
Leatherworking was establishes by the early 19th century and then really took off with the arrival of the South Staffordshire Railway in 1847. By 1851, there were 75 firms in Walsall making bridles, saddles and harnesses.
Late Victorian Britain had roughly 3.3 million horses. Business boomed. Walsall saddles were exported all over the British Empire. By the turn of the 20th century about a third of Britain’s saddlers and harness makes were based in Walsall. Sweatshop working had beoome common and workers toiled in dreadful conditions for little pay (especially women).
It was downhill from here. Cars, buses and motorbikes replaced horses on Britain’s streets. Overseas competition increased – a classic tale. Nevertheless, saddlery in Walsall has survived by focusing on high-grade goods and building on noted historic brands. Around 90 leather companies still operate in Walsall and their saddles and brides are still exported around the world.
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5. SENIOR PLANNER, PEAK DISTRICT NATIONAL PARK AUTHORITY
Location: Bakewell, Derbyshire (hybrid working)
The job: “The Peak District National Park Authority protects, enhances and shares the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Peak District. We also support the economic and social wellbeing of the communities in which we work. The Park is enjoyed by millions each year looking for adventure, knowledge and a fantastic day out.
“As a senior planner, you will support our planning service in guiding and managing planning and developments within the national park.
“Reporting to the area team manager, you will process planning applications and associated development management matters. You will negotiate with applicants on planning applications and prepare reports and recommendations to the planning committee.
“You will also provide advice to junior staff, applicants and members of the public on planning matters, prepare case documentation on planning appeals, including formal hearings and public inquiries and advise the authority’s policy team on the monitoring and development of planning policies.”
Fun fact: There are, apparently, in the region of 26,000 miles of dry stone wall in the Peak District – yes, someone has measured this – and this is roughly equivalent to the circumference of the Earth. What the walls signify is that, like the UK’s other national parks, the Peak District is a working landscape.
According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which promotes national parks worldwide, this makes the Peak District a category 5 national park – “A protected area where the interaction of people and nature over time has produced an area of distinct character with significant ecological, biological, cultural and scenic value”.
This is fifth of six categories, which begin with ‘strict nature reserve’ (category 1) and run through wilderness areas, habitat management areas to category 6: “Protected areas that conserve ecosystems and habitats, together with associated cultural values and traditional natural resource management systems”.
So the Peak District is fundamentally a working and living landscape, which houses roughly 38,000 people (and a lot of livestock). It was the first of Britain’s 15 national parks to be designated in 1951 and covers roughly 1,438 square kilometres. Because it’s a patchwork of worked land, private land and public land, it’s not a free-roaming area – indeed, only around a third of the park is accessible to the public (it was just half that until 2004), although it has in the region of 1,000km of footpaths, bridleway and tracks.
Of course, the Peak District National Park is home to a good many rare and protected species that are carefully nurtured and conserved and the planning authority’s primary obligation is to protect the landscape.
But issues surrounding access illustrate the compromises and difficulties involved in creating any kind of large-scale ‘natural’ or ‘wild’ areas in Britain. Ours has been a worked landscape for thousands of years and almost all of it (roughly 92%) is inaccessible to the general public for a variety of reasons.
Is this fair? Those who conducted a mass trespass in Kinder Scout, the highest point in the Peak District, on 24 April 1932, didn’t think so – and their action was re-enacted on 24 April 2022 to make the point that, in their view, not a great deal has changed (in England) in the intervening 90 years.
Find out more and apply
Photo credits | Shutterstock