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The Friday Five 21.06.24

Published on: 21 Jun 2024

It's The Friday Five, our regular round-up of the tip-top town planning jobs advertised on Planner Jobs – along with a selection of place-based facts to amuse, entertain and educate. This week, opportunities in Doncaster, Oxford, Scotland (yep, all of it), Melton Mowbray and Surrey. Plus tales of polar bears in Doncaster, tortoises in Oxford colleges, crested tits in Scotland, cheese in Leicestershire and some reasons why you should take your bike to the Surrey Hills. Read on!


Location: Doncaster, South Yorkshire

The job: "The City of Doncaster Council is a confident, ambitious organisation which puts improving the life of its residents at the centre of everything we do. You have an opportunity to be part of this in the role of senior planning policy officer working in the council’s busy planning department. If you want to gain deep experience within specialist fields as part of a multi-disciplinary team, this opportunity could be for you.

"We're about to commence work on a new South-Yorkshire Joint Waste Plan to ensure we're planning for our future waste needs with an up-to-date local planning policy framework for determining planning applications relating to waste matters.

"We're particularly interested to hear from candidates who have experience and/or an interest in minerals and waste planning policy and are very supportive of succession planning. We are seeking to recruit an appropriately experienced, enthusiastic individual to be part of a strong, friendly and supportive multidisciplinary team.

"Duties will include all those related to local plan development, monitoring and review, including: waste (and minerals) monitoring to ensure ongoing policy effectiveness; data analysis and assisting with research and preparing evidence base documents; assisting with stakeholder engagement and consultation on draft and emerging planning policy and proposals; inputting into future development plan reviews; and, providing development management policy advice."

Polar bear [square]Fun fact: Doncaster, in South Yorkshire, probably isn't the first name that springs to mind when you think of polar bears. But the Yorkshire Wildlife Park, slightly south-east of the city (yes, Donny has been a city since 2022), is the largest holder of the species outside of Canada. 

At the core of the park’s eight strong pack of polar bears is mother Flocke, and her three cubs, although two of the cubs have been moved to what the park’s Wikipedia page rather rakishly describes as ‘bachelor paddocks’. The Family Flocke arrived at YWP from Antibes, near Cannes, so they’re obviously used to the high life. 

Doncaster’s most famous animal resident has nothing to do with the wildlife park, however. Tish the goldfish was won at a funfair in 1956, and lived until 1999, when he sadly died at the age of 43. It’s an incredible feat; the average lifespan of a goldfish (Carassius auratus) is 10-15 years (which sounds outrageously optimistic; 10-15 months, even, would be pushing it for most goldfish your writer has known). 

Tish came into the world when Sir Anthony Eden was prime minister; lived through the Vietnam War, the Cold War, the assassination of JFK; watched man land on the Moon, and in his dotage, saw Tony Blair sweep into power and Shakespeare in Love scoop the 1999 Best Picture Oscar. A shame he won’t have remembered any of it for more than five seconds. 

Find out more and apply


Location: Oxford

The job: "Are you passionate about climate change and being at the forefront of climate action? Would you like the opportunity to help shape and influence new developments and climate policies across Oxfordshire and challenge existing positions? Are you an experienced environmental or planning professional and a good communicator with a strong record of partnership working?

"We're seeking a highly-motivated, enthusiastic person with proven experience in climate action and planning within a local government setting. As a climate and planning technical lead, you will be working with national and local government authorities, key stakeholders and partner organisations to help deliver the council’s climate objectives through planning. You'll lead on and develop projects and initiatives to support the delivery of net-zero development.

"You need drive and ambition, coupled with a good understanding of the planning system or the ability to navigate it, to help embed innovative climate change policy, and work closely with district planning authorities and developers to secure exemplar net-zero developments."

Tortoise [square]Fun fact: Far be it for us to suggest that much of the university life of the future leaders of our nation’s major institutions is ludicrously frivolous (which, apparently, is a satisfactory qualification for being prime minister these days), but if you happen to find yourself in the vicinity of Corpus Christi College in Oxford on the sixth Sunday of the Trinity Term (that's some time in late May to you and me), then you might want to linger awhile and watch a bit of the annual, hotly contested Oxford University Tortoise Race.

Yes, these are actual tortoises and they actually race them – in as much as it's possible to get any tortoise to participate in a race, that is.

This peculiar tradition – if it may be called such – dates back around 40 years or so. It builds on them fact that for many, many years tortoises have been popular pets at colleges. And although a number of colleges have decided against keeping tortoises on animal welfare grounds the likes of Corpus Christie, Christ Church and Wadham still look after a tortoise within the college.

Once a year, said tortoises are removed to the grounds of Corpus Christie where they are placed at the centre of a wide circle of lettuce. The first beshelled creature to reach the outer edge of the lettuce ring is declared the winner. This takes quite a long time. Like, a LONG time.

Meantime, spectators – of whom there may be well over a thousand – enjoy the Tortoise Fair, a smorgasbord of music and refreshments. Or they may simply sit and soak up the sun and read a book or have a lengthy nap as they await the conclusion of this thrilling, edge-of-the-seat spectacle.

Yes, it's all very silly and, yes, we probably should be worried that these people run our country; on the other hand, the annual Tortoise Race and Fair does raise a fair bit of cash for charity each year. And it's probably quite fun, too. So we'll let it go. This time.

Find out more and apply


Location: Flexible, in Scotland

The job: "As a senior planning officer with SEPA, you'll be taking the lead in SEPA’s input to planning and similar development consultations to ensure that environmental protection and enhancement are delivered, placemaking opportunities identified and SEPA’s One Planet Prosperity approach furthered. 

"You'll ensure that environmental objectives are integrated into local authority plans and responses to development management consultations - including the co-ordination of SEPA responses to Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) and Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) consultations.

"Responsibilities will include:

  • Producing integrated responses to EIA, SEA and other consultations
  • Advising strategic and local planners of our policy and environmental objectives and encouraging proactive approaches to environmental protection
  • Advising development management planners on the specific implications that may arise from planning proposals
  • Developing and managing the consultation process within policy.

"The SEPA planning service is composed of two regional teams, north and south, and the national function.  The successful candidate will be based in one of the regional teams and pick up work predominantly from that team area."

Crested tit [square]Fun fact: Capercaillie, Scottish crossbill, ptarmigan, crested tit... Scotland is a bit of haven for birds that are either unique to that part of Britain or seldom seen elsewhere in the UK. In the case of the Scottish crossbill, it's a variety that exists nowhere else in the world.

Crested tits, on the other hand, are quite widespread around Northern Europe. Yet in Britain it is confined to a small area of the northern Highlands around Inverness and Loch Garton, where it nests and feeds in ancient Caledonian pine forest or Scots Pine plantation. Unsurprisingly, pine seeds are a major part of a crested tit's diet, along with creepy-crawlies.

The pine dependency, of course, explains why it's not spread throughout the rest of Britain. Which is a shame, because they're particularly striking birds with the triangular black-and-white patterned crest looking not unlike some kind of tribal or military feathered embellishment on its head.

Such crests are relatively widespread throughout the bird kingdom and serve a variety of purposes: they may be used to communicate; in courtship to impress potential mates; or as a way of making the bird seem bigger than it actually is when threatened.

Although confined to a relatively small area, crested tits are not considered to be at threat and have a green conservation status in the UK. Estimates vary, but it's thought there are somewhere in the region of 1,500 breeding pairs and perhaps up to 5,000 birds in total. If you’re into birding, they’re lovely to see. And you might even be lucky enough to see a capercaillie, a Scottish crossbill or a read squirrel while you’re searching for them.

Find out more and apply


Location: Melton Mowbray, Leicestershire

The job: "Set in beautiful Leicestershire countryside, Melton Mowbray is the quintessential English market town and renowned for its status as ‘Rural Capital of Food’. We now have exciting proposals coming forwards through the substantial UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) and Levelling Up funding. 

"With more than 4,500 homes being planned in two sustainable urban extensions, supported by the delivery of highways and educational infrastructure, Melton is on its upward journey towards sustainable growth.

"As a planning team leader, you'll be at the forefront, enabling developments, shaping high quality places and tackling climate change. The role of team leader in our busy development management team is key to allowing us to improve the delivery of our professional, efficient, and effective planning service.

"Our team leaders are highly valued as part of the team and are supported by the senior leadership team to develop and progress their careers. Key to our success is our continuous drive to ‘grow our own’ and see our people succeed and flourish, always ready to take on the next challenge."

Blue stilton cheese [square]Fun fact: Melton Mowbray, usually just called Melton, is a market town in Leicestershire. The name Melton, since you ask, comes from the early English word Medeltone, which means ‘Middletown surrounded by small hamlets’. 

Mowbray, meanwhile, is a Norman family name from local Norman lord of the manor Robert de Mowbray, who was Earl of Northumbria from 1086 until 1095. English royalty’s alliance with Melton goes back to the 1100s and it was at the centre of the Leicestershire Hunt, giving the county its mascot, the Leicestershire fox. In fact, its history is synonymous with hunting – for centuries it was a hot-spot for royalty and aristocracy to spend autumns and winters there. As such, the local pork pies became a vital saddlebag item to be eaten by the idle rich while ‘on the hoof’.

The town has been dubbed the ‘rural capital of food’. Yes, it’s famed for its pies, but if you’re a cheese junkie, you might also know that it’s one of the few places in the locality (along with five other towns in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire) where the famous delicacy Stilton cheese can still be made with pasteurised local milk under a protected status – it has European ‘Protected Designation of Origin’, even after Brexit. To be authentic, it must have the traditional cylindrical shape; form its own crust or coating; be made without the use of a cheese press; contain blue veins radiating from the centre; and have a minimum of 48 per cent milk fat in its dry matter. Hungry yet?

Find out more and apply


Location: Surrey

The job: "Do you want to work for a highly motivated local authority planning team who consistently delivers a high level of service? This is a unique opportunity to work for a growing local authority in Surrey.

"This newly created role is because of an increase in workload due to continued development in the local area. The local authority is looking to bring in an experienced planner that can hit the ground running with minimal supervision. 

"You'll be required to work both individually and as part of a team to continue the high level of service that the local authority operates to currently. You'll be managing a mixed caseload of applications so must be comfortable with this variety."

Leith Hill [square]Fun fact: Continuing this week's natural theme... The Surrey Hills – a range of hills in, er, Surrey – are designated as a national landscape. This means they have the same protections as a national park. The designation was given only last year; up to that point, the Surrey Hills had been an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty since 1958 (and was, in fact, only the second place in the country to be designated as such). All AONBs became national landscapes in 2023 (still with us?).

Anyhow, the Surrey Hills National Landscape fills an area of 422 square kilometres and occupies around a quarter of Surrey, covering parts of the North Downs and the Greensand Ridge. It’s something of haven for rare plants and insects, including water voles, great crested newts, skylarks, brown hairstreak butterflies, turtle doves, bee orchid, horseshoe vetch, nightjars, grilling butterflies and on, and on. It’s a lovely place.

It also contains the highest point in the south-east of England, Leith Hill, which tops out at more than 297 metres above sea level, as well as the famous Box Hill climb that was used in the London Olympics cycle races. Your writer can attest that the Surrey Hills are a splendid place to go cycling and Leith Hill in particular is a beautiful climb. But we digress.

The landscape also contains chocolate box villages (Shere is worth a visit), excellent country pubs, meadows, woods, chalk grassland, pretty market towns, splendid heritage buildings, a brewery, a winery, a coffee roaster and a lot more, obvs. Oh, it also has a few dark skies spots for star-spotters. Basically, it’s a lovely place and you should go. Got it?

Find out more and apply

Image credits | Farjana Rahman, Shutterstock; A. Archi, Shutterstock; Jeremy Richards, iStock; Only Fabrizio, iStock; Stephen Butterworth, Shutterstock