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The Friday Five 27.01.23

Published on: 27 Jan 2023


Location: Welwyn Garden city/Hybrid

The job: “A fantastic opportunity is available at Welwyn Hatfield Council for a career grade development management officer. In this challenging and hugely rewarding opportunity, you’ll be responsible for managing a caseload of planning applications (ranging from householders up to major schemes depending on experience). 

“In addition, you will be expected to proactively develop a customer-focussed service. You will be carrying out site visits, dealing with complaints, providing advice to a range of stakeholders, and representing the council at appeals.

“Welwyn Hatfield includes the two towns of Welwyn Garden City and Hatfield, but also encompasses a significant rural area which is designated as Green Belt. This creates a vibrant mix of opportunities and developments including major brownfield redevelopment within the main towns, urban extensions delivering new homes and jobs, to rural agricultural development as well as conservation and heritage work.”

Nabisco factory [square]Fun fact: Think of Welwyn Garden City and you’re fairly likely to picture the rather restrained neo-Georgian architecture that typifies the town and which was largely driven by the work of the town’s chief architect Louis de Soissons.

Not all the town’s buildings fit this template, though. Welwyn Garden City is home, too, to the Art Deco Shredded Wheat Factory, also designed – surprisingly – by de Soissons. 

The American Nabisco Shredded Wheat Company chose Welwyn Garden City as its manufacturing base for Shredded Wheat after persuasive lobbying by Ebenezer Howard and De Soisson adopted a very modern design complemented, in keeping with the garden city philosophy, with ‘model’ conditions for employees – free mid-day lunches, pristine white-tiled bathrooms, tennis courts and a five-day working week.

The factory closed in 2008 after eight decades of operation, during which time it was a major employer in the town and also provided a daily scent of wheat and cereal wafting through the town from the factory’s massive grain silos.

Most have now been demolished, but a number remain alongside the grade II listed factory building. This has, unfortunately, been allowed to fall into a state of considerable disrepair. Nevertheless, it’s at the centre of plans to create a new Shredded Wheat Quarter, a large mixed-use scheme that will see a complete restoration of the factory and remaining silos, close to 900 homes of various tenures, a civic building, an art house cinema, a dance school, a GP surgery, offices and co-working space, gallery space for artists, a food hall and a motorbike museum. A good deal of the proposal has been consented and work should begin soon…

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Location: Woking, Surrey

The job: “Managing the planning development management team, you will need to have both technical expertise, ideally with minerals and waste planning experience, and strong leadership qualities to support the development of the Planning service within the changing backdrop at a local and national level. This role reports directly to the planning group manager, and you will be part of the infrastructure, planning and major projects, extended senior leadership team. You will be working at a strategic level and the responsibilities in the role profile reflect this. You will need to balance the operational needs of a busy department whilst also ensuring the wider outcomes of the directorate and organisation are delivered through a timely and transparent process.

“You will support the team to deal with all functions relating to Regulation 3 and minerals and waste developments, including policy and enforcement; and have a key role in unlocking the development potential. You will be the focal point of the planning development management function of the council and possess the skills to confidently secure the best outcomes for the people of Surrey with a demanding workload of often complex applications. You will be able to engage with a range of individuals, including elected members, representatives from industry, internal applicant departments and senior staff across the organisation.”

Woking [square]Fun fact: Woking, disparagingly, was the inspiration for The Jam’s 1982 number one single A Town Called Malice. With the title a play on the Nevil Shute novel A Town Like Alice, the song describes writer Paul Weller’s feelings about growing up in the town and the state of early 1980s Britain in general. 

Despite its upbeat mood, the song does not paint a pretty picture. Instead it’s a tale of suburban decline, stagnant lives, deprivation and the loss of community. 

“Rows and rows of disused milk floats
Stand dying in the dairy yard
And a hundred lonely housewives clutch empty milk
Bottles to their hearts
Hanging out their old love letters on the line to dry”

“A whole street's belief in Sunday's roast beef
Gets dashed against the Co-op
To either cut down on beer or the kids new gear
It's a big decision in a town called Malice, ooh yeah”.

Weller, who revisited his home town again with the 1995 album Stanley Road, said of the song:  "Even before the ’80s, a lot of people were living hand to mouth. I remembered my mum and dad: I don't think the swinging ’60s ever hit Woking. They were forever rowing about not having enough money. Those suburban images were very strong in my mind…”

He went on: "There was a phoney pretence that we could suddenly all be middle class because we were allowed to buy our own houses, get a mortgage and be in debt for the rest of our lives.”

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Location: Andover, Hampshire/Home

The job: “Our team are delivering ambitious masterplans for the future of both Andover and Romsey town centres. We are currently preparing a new local plan looking ahead to 2040 and coordinating infrastructure delivery to meet our proposals.

“We have two career graded opportunities to join our planning policy team.  The senior/planning policy officer role within our strategy team will play a key part in helping to shape the future of the borough through the new local plan. The planning policy officer role within our delivery team plays a key role in helping to plan and deliver infrastructure in the borough. There is the opportunity to work towards a postgraduate qualification as part of this role which will be funded by us.

“With the support of the wider team, you will have the opportunity to shape the future of the borough and enable our communities to fulfil their potential.”

Florence Nightingale [square]Fun fact: Although born in Florence, Italy (hence her name), the founder of modern nursing, Florence Nightingale, lived much of her life in Embley in the Test Valley – at Embley Park, in fact, which is now a listed house and garden converted into a school.

Anyway, she had a prosperous and ‘liberal-humanist’ upbringing. So much so, that she and her older sister were encouraged by their father to study seriously subjects such as maths, history, literature and philosophy.

Florence, in particular, displayed considerable intellectual prowess and, as time went on, it became clear that she was going to reject the 19th-century idea of what a woman should be and follow her own path. In her case that was into nursing, inspired partly by what she interpreted as a call from God to serve humankind.

By 1853 (she was born in 1820), Nightingale was superintendent at the Institute for the Care of Sick Gentlewomen in Upper Harley Street, London, supported by a handsome income from her father. A year later she was sent to the Crimean War as part of a contingent of nurses and nuns and it was here that she made her name.

Basically, she started to transform nursing by paying attention to hygiene and living standards to reduce and prevent infection. She also began to use statistics as a way of understanding patterns of illness and death and the conditions associated with these. In doing so, she greatly reduced death rates and became the iconic ‘Lady of the Lamp’.

Back in England, she founded the first nursing school, the Nightingale Training School, at St Thomas' Hospital in 1860. It’s still going, as the Florence Nightingale Faculty of Nursing and Midwifery, part of King's College London. She transformed nursing and her attention to sanitary conditions had a wider effect, too, feeding into a greater awareness of the relationship between sanitation and disease (and poverty). 

She was a great spreader of knowledge and a pioneer with both statistics and their simple representation in graphic form. Notably, she’s famous for the polar area diagram, also called the Nightingale rose diagram, equivalent to a modern circular histogram. This diagram is still regularly used in data visualisation.

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Location: Worcester, Worcestershire/Remote

The job: “It’s a very exciting time to join Worcester City Council as we move forward with our ambitious plans for the city. We are committed to making Worcester an even more vibrant and dynamic place, a unique tourist destination and a place that offers a high quality of life.

“We are 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. We need a talented senior planning policy officer working with us 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 are a progressive and innovative organisation, offering a very supportive environment for our staff where they are encouraged to develop their skills and take full advantage of every opportunity, to grow and make the most of their talents.”

Claines [square]Fun fact: The village of Claines, just north of Worcester, boasts what is reputed to be one of just two English pubs built on consecrated ground (ie, within the curtilage of a church). The brilliantly named The Mug House is situated in the churchyard of Claines Parish Church, and has been for a very long time indeed.
Its history can be traced back to the Plantaganets (the English royal family from 1154 to 1485) and it’s survived pub closures by the Puritans and because of plague – probably because of its location.

Though on holy ground, the pub is said to have been the location for “riotous” festival wakes in the medieval period, which may have involved bull and bear-baiting, dancing and “drunken rosytering”. It’s also provided a welcome haven for generations of bellringers, churchgoers and probably quite a few clergy, too (which would come as no surprise to Geoffrey Chaucer).
In 1947 the silver head of a medieval bishop's crook, a crosier, was discovered concealed within the pub’s walls. It’s thought it could have been hidden with the rest of the church silver during the Reformation.

Anyhow, it’s now used every year by the Claines Boy Bishop,  a revived Middle Ages custom which sees a local child (traditionally a choirboy) take ‘office’ on the Feast of St Nicholas, the patron saint of children on 6 December and hold authority until Holy Innocents Day (28 December).

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Location: Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire/Hybrid

The job: “We currently have an exciting opportunity to work with our local communities on the production of their neighbourhood plans. Situated in North Nottinghamshire, Bassetlaw is a large and diverse urban/rural district; we can offer an interesting, varied and challenging workload, including helping to develop a government pilot which is looking at new ways of neighbourhood planning and interactive community engagement. You will also help deliver the new Bassetlaw Local Plan and help produce, for the first time, a design code for the district.

“We work with very active and enthusiastic local communities and are leading the way in neighbourhood planning in England. This is a role which requires a passion for community engagement and a willingness to understand a variety of planning issues so that local communities are equipped to meet the challenges that producing their plans can bring.”

Cresswell Crags [square]Fun fact: The Church Hole Cave in Cresswell Crag, within Bassetlaw, is where you’ll find the most northerly known Ice Age art in Europe. The series of caves were seasonally occupied by nomadic groups from round 43,000 years to 10,000 years ago. There’s a fair bit of evidence of human habitation in the cave with a number of artefacts discovered but it wasn’t until 2003 that a number of bas-reliefs and engravings were found on the walls and ceiling of Church Hole Cave. At the time it was thought that no British rock art existed.

Their subject matter includes representations of animals including bison and stag and, arguably, several different bird species. The engravers seem to have made use of the naturally uneven cave surface in their carvings and it is likely that they relied on the early-morning sunlight entering the caves to illuminate the art.

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Image credits | I wei huang, shutterstock; iStock; iStock; D K Grove, Shutterstock; Jeremy Alan Baxter, Shutterstock