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The Friday Five 03.05.24

Published on: 3 May 2024

It's the Friday Five, our routine handcrafted curation of five top town planning jobs advertised on Planner Jobs this week. Intriguing positions abound today, in Cambridgeshire, Oxfordshire, in the high stake worlds of minerals planning, health and green energy production. And we have the usual fun, place-based facts for your amusement. Enjoy!


Location: Cambourne/Cambridge/Hybrid

The job: "We're seeking highly motivated principal policy planners to lead on a range of important projects. More so than other planning services, we tackle a wide range of ambitious projects covering pressing urban, rural, environmental and economic challenges. These range from water scarcity and unprecedented economic development to major infrastructure projects like East West Rail. We are also dedicated to reducing inequality and impacts on climate, preserving the unique character of our area and enabling nature to thrive.

"In these roles, you will lead on a number of complex planning matters, using your expertise and experience in planning policy and the plan making process. We are particularly  interested to hear from people with experience in infrastructure, developer contributions and the community infrastructure levy for the fixed term infrastructure position; and we're looking for a Cambourne lead role to project manage the preparation of a potential site allocation for an expanded Cambourne."

Histon map [square]Fun fact: Take a look at the village sign for Histon in South Cambridgeshire and you'll see a strange figure in a stovepipe hat carrying a large object above his head. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the Histon Giant. The Histon Giant is no myth, however: Moses Carter actually existed and spent his entire life in the village from 1801-1869.

Nor is his name ironic. He wasn't a small person, but stood close to seven feet tall at a time when the average height for a man was around 5'5". So he was HUGE, apparently weighing somewhere in the region of 23 stone and well-proportioned with it.

As you might expect, being so large he was also very powerful and gained a reputation as a strongman throughout his life. Feats of strength apparently include dispensing with a horse to pull his own plough, carrying an 18 stone sack of corn under each arm and  transporting armfuls of village children about the place for fun.

The village sign commemorates his most famous act of strength. The story goes that, for a bet, he carried a large boulder freshly dug from a ballast hole in Park Lane several hundred metres to Boot Corner, the location of the Boot Inn. And here the boulder remains, in the pub garden. 

Of Moses Carter himself, just his stovepipe hat, a ring and one of his hobnailed boots survive. The headstone where he's buried beside Histon Church is weather worn, but a memorial in the churchyard was dedicated to the giant on the 138th anniversary of his death in 1998. And there's the village sign, telling everyone who visits Histon (we can recommend it, by the way) the tale of Histon Giant.

Find out more and apply


Location: Oxfordshire

The job: "The role involves the investigation into and progression of planning enforcement related enquiries. Knowledge of the planning system is vital, as are good proactive communication and negotiation skills. The role will require the postholder to undertake site visits, draft formal planning related notices and write detailed reports and undertake planning related appeals.

"You'll demonstrate the ability to work as part of our friendly and committed team, be proactive, organised and an excellent communicator with a clear commitment to providing outstanding customer service. In return, our innovative ways of working offer high levels of trust and autonomy to make decisions and manage your own workload."

Girl at festival [square]Fun fact: Who would think that a tiny village in Oxfordshire would become the location of one of the most celebrated folk/rock festivals in the UK? Cropredy (population 736) plays host each year to Fairport's Cropredy Convention, an annual celebration of folk and rock music run by the band Fairport Convention.

If you've never heard of them, they were big in the 70s and considered pioneers in the folk rock genre with a portfolio that spanned from traditional British music through modern folk and into contemporary rock. By the late 70s, however, enthusiasm for the genre had faded, they were without a record deal and the band decided to call it a day. They figured they'd bow out with a festival, in the village of Cropredy where they'd played an annual show in the previous three years (a tradition which started with a performance in someone's garden).

4,500 people showed up to say goodbye to the band. Everyone had such a good time that the band promised they'd show up for an annual reunion in the village from that point on. And so they have...

Nowadays, Fairport's Cropredy Convention is a pretty major event. Over three days, it attracts an audience of 20,000 plus and performances but around 20 artists. Fairport themselves open the festival with an acoustic set and close it with an electric one and the local brewery sells a LOT of beer. 

The line-ups are rather eclectic, but lean into multiple shades of traditional, folk and rock. Acts to have performed at the festival over the years include Status Quo, Supergrass, Robert Plant, Turin Brakes, 10cc, Gogol Bordello and The Waterboys. This year event will take place from 8-10 August.

Find out more and apply


Location: Colchester, London, South East, East Anglia

The job: "Tarmac is one of the UK’s largest land and mineral owners with a controlling interest in 110,000 acres of real estate comprising minerals and industrial land, as well as strategic greenfield land held for the long-term business continuity of Tarmac. This diverse real estate portfolio is managed by Tarmac’s Land and Mineral Resources (L&NR) team which has a range of professional skills and capabilities.

"Tarmac has a fantastic opportunity for a strategic planning manager to join Tarmac’s L&NR Team, primarily operating within London, the South East and East Anglia region.

"As part of our Regional L&NR Team you'll be responsible for the promotion of mineral and industrial opportunities and securing the necessary planning permissions for the development of strategic land and mineral assets to provide the long and short term business continuity needs of the operating business. 

"You'll assist in the identification, assessment and securing of new land and mineral opportunities which have potential for future development by the business as well as being an important cog in providing expert advice to the operating business ensuring its licence to operate is maintained."

Tarmac road [square]Fun fact: How to make roads stick? That was the conundrum answered in the early 20th century by Tarmac’s founder Edgar Hoole – and commemorated by the modern day company last year in its 120 year celebrations.

So sure, roads. But since the 1920s, also construction in general. The firm cites Wembley Stadium, The Shard and Heathrow Terminal 5 as among recent projects it has played a major part in building.

This experience has led to the development of some perhaps surprising product types. Today’s Tarmac produces materials used to build houses, schools, hospitals, flood defences, roads, bridges and tunnels. 

But here’s a list of things produced with Tarmac products that may be more surprising to you: paper, glass, drinking water, food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals – and toothpaste. So a company associated very much with the colour black helping keep something very white. What a world we live in.

Find out more and apply


Location: London

The job: "The NHS London Healthy Urban Development Unit (HUDU) is a small team focused on supporting the London NHS Integrated Care Boards (ICBs) and other NHS partners engage in the town planning system at a strategic and local level.

"Funded by the ICBs and co-located with the London Estates Delivery Unit, HUDU seeks to maximise opportunities to improve health infrastructure, promote healthy lifestyles and tackle health inequalities. There is the need to ensure that investment in health infrastructure takes account of population growth, future health needs and new models of care.

"HUDU is expanding its team to provide greater support to the Integrated Care Boards to ensure that as many opportunities are secured to improve health facilities and outcomes through the planning process. HUDU has developed tools and techniques to help the NHS to respond to the planning agenda. The team helps the ICBs respond to major planning applications, secure developer contributions, engage with the plan-making process and with planners and public health colleagues across London authorities.

"We're seeking a planning manager to make a major contribution to the unit’s work programme, co-ordinating the unit’s work in relation to the local planning authorities across London and playing an important role in ensuring the development and maintenance of strategic planning tools to support the unit’s work."

Sewer [square]Fun fact: If you've ever wandered around South East London, there’s a pretty good chance that you've crossed paths with the River Effra. You might not have noticed, however: the river, which flows from Norwood to the Thames, was culverted in 1847. 

Whilst much of the river is now underground, reminders of its existence still occasionally bubble to the surface. There’s The Effra Arms Tavern and Effra Social pubs in Brixton; in Brockwell Passage in Herne Hill, there's a plaque stating “The hidden river of Effra is beneath your feet”. The Effra is visible, briefly, as the lake in Belair Park in Dulwich. 

There was an incident in Victorian times, when a coffin was discovered floating in the Thames. It was deduced that the coffin was from West Norwood Cemetery: the grave had been dug too close to the subterranean Effra, and had collapsed into the hidden river, which bore the coffin and its unfortunate inhabitant underground to the Thames. 

The errant coffin is commemorated by the band The Effras in their song Down in The Effra (noticing a theme?): 

West Norwood Cemetery/ in tearful symmetry
mourners assembled in woe/A conjuring trick or a London particular?
Only the residents know/ Over a hundred and fifty years earlier
one of them, weighed down with grief/
sank through the soil to the oily deep path/
of the river that runs underneath.

Find out more and apply


Location: TBC – dependent on home location

The job: "As the largest producer of renewable energy from food waste in England and Wales, Severn Trent Green Power provides cost-effective and sustainable recycling solutions through our award-winning network of facilities across the Midlands, South Wales, the South West and the Home Counties.

"As a waste/renewables planner, you will:

  • Prepare planning applications for a range of developments on existing sites
  • Liaise, build relationships, and negotiate with all stakeholders connected with the planning process
  • Where appropriate, oversee and review work produced by specialist consultants
  • Support the company’s principal planner in advising on planning aspects relating to proposed new development projects
  • Monitor proposals and planning applications submitted by third parties/competitor organisations
  • Monitor the progress of relevant local development plans
  • Contribute to the maintenance of concise and accurate planning records."

Anaerobic digester [square]Fun fact: Severn Trent Green Power is the largest producer of renewable energy from food waste in England and Wales. It captures gases produced by the breakdown of organic matter in anaerobic digesters, through which the company provides 279 kWh of green energy (in the form of 'biogas') for homes and businesses each year.

But though the techniques of anaerobic digestion have been considerably refined for mass production in recent years, it's not in any way a new process and has been used on a small scale for cooking, heating and lighting around the world for centuries.

In fact, the earliest known use of biogas to provide power can be dated back to around 3,000 BC, where there's evidence of Assyrians using biogas to heat baths. However, it wasn't until the mid 19th century in India that the first biogas digester to provide power on larger scale was constructed at a leper colony in Mumbai. 

Within a few decades engineer John Webb had invented the 'sewer lamp', a street light powered by sewer gases in Victorian England. Incredibly, one of the the Webb sewer lamps survives - in Carting Lane, just off the Strand in London.

From the 1930s the process was industrialised and nowadays an increasing number of biogas facilities being built around the world in recent decades. Nowadays there are more than 100 biogas facilities in the UK and more than 2,000 in the USA. But the home of anaerobic digestion is undoubtedly China, where an estimated 50 million households use biogas.

Find out more and apply

Image credits | EvenMaps, Shutterstock; Piotr Piatrouski, Shutterstock; Pxl Store, Shutterstock; Dmytro Falkowskyi, Shutterstock; Dmitry Naumov, Shutterstock