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The Friday Five 5.04.24

Published on: 5 Apr 2024

It's The Friday Five, our weekly round-up of five of the best town planning job advertised on Planner Jobs – along with a heady mix of place-based nuggets of information to amuse, educate and entertain. This week, opportunities in Edinburgh, Tiverton, Rugby, West Bridgford and Brighton. Plus the public clock that tells the wrong time, a brief history of conflagrations, an ancient Roman service station, how Viking warriors gave a name to a geographical subdivision and the road that split a village.


Location: Edinburgh

The job: "One of the leading planning consultancies in the country I seeking an associate planner with private sector experience to work in its Edinburgh office. The company is involved in a wide range of projects from medium-scale to large-scale residential, mixed-use and commercial schemes. We're looking for a driven associate planner to play a key role in driving the Edinburgh team forward. The company has an excellent reputation as nearly 80 per cent of our business is repeat business.

"Key responsibilities of the role include:

  • Project managing a broad mix of planning submissions and appeals
  • Working with a wide range of clients, managing expectations and adhering to time limits
  • Maintaining a good understanding of policies relating to residential, commercial and mixed-use schemes, as well as environmental statements
  • Participate in public inquiries.

"This is a fantastic opportunity for a motivated and experienced professional to propel their career to the next level."

Balmoral Hotel [square]Fun fact: If you happen to be catching a train at Waverley station in Edinburgh there'a fair chance you'll pas the neighbouring Balmoral Hotel en route. The hotel, a majestic building with its roots deep inside Waverley, has a tall and imposing clock tower that dominate the east end of Prince's Street. It's a very considerate and useful location for a public timepiece: hurrying to make a train, you may want to glance up and check the time to ensure that you’re going to make your connection or that you have time to buy a quick coffee before boarding.

There's something odd about the clock, though. It only actually tell the correct time once a year. For almost all of 365 days, barring midnight on December 31st, the clock is deliberately set to run three minutes fast. Why? To make sure people don’t miss their train!

It’s a cunning ploy and in the days of smartphones perhaps an unnecessary one. But it remains the way nevertheless, a tradition that has lasted since 1902, when the Balmoral opened as the North British Hotel, so called after the North British Railway Company that commissioned it.

The 10-storey luxury hotel has provided a temporary residence for a good number of extremely famous people over the years, including Laurel and Hardy (and Stan Laurel made his name in Edinburgh before heading to Hollywood), Sophia Loren, Elizabeth Taylor, Paul and Linda McCartney, and more recently J K Rowling, who apparently squirrelled herself away in the hotel to write Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last in the Harry Potter saga. It would be nice to think she finished three minutes ahead of her deadline...

Find out more and apply


Location: Tiverton, Devon/Hybrid

The job: "We're looking to recruit enthusiastic and capable individuals who are interested in using and developing their professional skills and knowledge to help us deliver a high quality planning enforcement service.

"As part of the wider development management team, you'll play an important role in investigating and resolving cases of alleged breaches of planning control. This will involve making site visits, undertaking site surveillance and conducting interviews where necessary. You'll prepare reports, documents and evidence in connection with cases for planning committee, appeals and legal proceedings and give evidence. You'll also have day-to-day oversight of the work of the enforcement assistant and support in the mentoring and management of this officer.

"Candidates interested in the senior enforcement officer role will need to demonstrate considerable planning experience; be able to apply planning policy and legislation on a range of matters, and; will be a confident self-motivated senior professional with excellent written and verbal communications skills."

Flames [square]Fun fact: Tiverton, the small medieval town that serves as the administrative centre of mid-Devon, has a fiery history, with a  number of dramatic conflagrations breaking out over a 130-odd year period before steps were finally taken to prevent the spread of fires through its streets.

The first of these in 1596, apparently, began with a fire in a frying pan that somehow escalated into a major blaze that destroyed most of the town. The second, in 1612, was perhaps even more bizarre. The story goes that the fire began in an unwatched furnace, those responsible for overseeing its operation having been distracted by a dog fight (along with a number of other townsfolk). 

This fire destroyed some 600 houses in High Street, Bampton Street, St Peter Street and Barrington Street, but leaving the Church, Castle, schools, almshouses and a few poor hovels. Unsurprisingly, incidences of smallpox went though the roof (pun entirely intended) in the wake of this fire as people were forced to live in crammed and cramped conditions while rebuilding went on.

Smaller fires subsequently broke out in 1676, 1726 and 1730. Then, in 1731, by which point Tiverton was a proper wool trading town, there was another big one. Breaking out in a baker’s house in Gold Street, this spread quickly via the town's narrow streets, leaping from thatched roof to thatched roof before it was brought under control. A total of 298 houses were destroyed.

Then, and only then, did the townsfolk see fit to introduce some sensible measures to prevent the spread of further conflagrations. These included replacing thatched roofs with slate and lead, and widening the streets. The result? No more massive blazes to report in Tiverton.

Find out more and apply


Location: Rugby, Warwickshire

The job: "Rugby is one of the fastest growing towns in the country and is set to grow by 30 per cent by 2035. We need an exceptional and dynamic planner to lead our growth agenda.

"Located in the county of Warwickshire, near the cities of Coventry and Leicester, with direct rail links to London and Birmingham and within the 'golden triangle' of the strategic road network, Rugby’s accessibility is one of the key attributes making it a great place to live and work.

"This is an exciting opportunity to play a key part in the growth of Rugby borough with large developments in two sustainable urban extensions, high quality employment and technology sites such as Ansty Park and the exciting regeneration of Rugby town centre. There is also plenty of diversity in the workload, not only through the major schemes that you will be dealing with but the other key features of our borough, including the rolling Warwickshire countryside, much of which is green belt, and significant heritage and cultural work preserving the birthplace of the game of Rugby.

"You will need to have a relevant degree or equivalent qualification, significant experience of development management and possess excellent communication, and advisory skills. You will also be required to supervise, manage and appraise other team members."

Roman road [square]Fun fact: The town of Rugby pitches itself as being at the heart of the ‘golden triangle’, a 289-square-mile area around the intersection of three major strategic roads (the M1, M6 and M42 motorway) within a four-hour drive of 90 per cent of the UK population. As such, it’s become a prime logistics hub, with a high density of distribution facilities.

We might think this is a modern phenomenon – but we’d be wrong. There must be something about the area's geography, for this was an important service centre for the Romans, too. Just 12 miles north of modern-day Rugby was the intersection of the Fosse Way, linking Exeter with Lincoln, via Bath, Cirencester and Leicester; and Watling Street, the Romanisation of an ancient Celtic route linking Dover with Wroxeter in Shropshire, via London, St Albans, the Chilterns and the Midlands.

Both routes are inscribed into the landscape, geography and even the history of England (Watling Street, for example, provided a natural border for the Danelaw that separated between Anglo Saxon from Danish territory, and a number of modern roads trace the ancient Roman highways).

Anyhow, just outside modern day Rugby, on the old Watling Street (now the A5) was an old Roman town called Tripontium which, it is thought, acted as a place to break a journey for stabling, sustenance, restocking and overnight stays. Think of it as an ancient motorway services. It began life as a military frontier settlement during the Roman conquest of Britain and developed over time into a civilian town which was inhabited for around 400 years.

And it must have been a bustling place: archaeologists have so far discovered public bath houses, an administrative building and an inn. Sadly, a good bit of what would have remained has been destroyed by gravel extraction (before anyone knew it was there) but there remains much still to excavate. Plus ça change, huh? Finds from the excavation to date can be viewed at Rugby Art Gallery and Museum.

Find out more and apply


Location: West Bridgford, Nottingham

The job: "The development management service is in a strong position, being fully staffed to be ready to take on the challenges of government policy changes and the delivery of several strategic sites and a local development order. As our planning manager, you’ll be ready provide effective operational management and leadership to your teams, ensuring they deliver and continually improve services in accordance with service standards. You'll also oversee the delivery of strategic housing and employment sites within the borough.

"Ensuring correct procedures are followed, deadlines are met and working practices are regularly reviewed, you’ll manage the entire range of applications we receive. Committed to creating a working environment where people can achieve the very best, and ready to identify talent and support and encourage your colleagues’ development, you’ll also be committed to maintaining fair and consistent HR policies throughout the service.

"Your other responsibilities will include engaging effectively with internal and external customers, monitoring, and controlling service performance to ensure that key milestones and targets are met, identifying, and bidding for additional funding, and managing the process for applications being considered by the planning committee."

Viking warrior [square]Fun fact: West Bridgford is home to Rushcliffe Council, with Rushcliffe the local government district in south Nottinghamshire brought to life in 1974 as a result of the Local Government Act 1972.

Borders boffins settled on ‘Rushcliffe’ as the name of the new district after the Rushcliffe Wapentake, a centuries-old name for the equivalent of an Anglo-Saxon hundred in the northern Danelaw. The Rushcliffe Wapentake spanned Rushcliffe in the south, Nottingham to the west, Newark to the east and East Retford to the north.

Now, we don’t know about you but a word like ‘wapentake’ is just too delicious to leave parked in history. Say it out loud, slowly. At a stretch, sounds like it could be describing the act of snatching a gun or knife from someone, right? ‘Weapon-take’? This is actually kind of correct: apparently, Wapentake derives from the Old Norse word vápnatak, meaning ‘weapon’ (vápn) and ‘take’ (taka). Historians speculate that voting in the assembly of the time may have been conducted by a show of weapons.

We’re all over these wonderful old administrative district names and would (probably) support any candidate committing to reinstate waptentakes, cantreds, baronys, hundreds, chazongomps or periwhumps. Perhaps whoever gets this job can start the ball rolling?

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Location: Falmer, Brighton, West Sussex

The job: "Parker Dann Town Planning is recruiting for an experienced town planner to join our growing consultancy team as a senior planner. You'll be part of the team, reporting to the associate director, whilst also working closely alongside the two directors.

"You'll be a vital part of our team, responsible for running your own projects using your expertise to offer comprehensive planning advice to a wide spectrum of clients. Ideally you'll be a chartered MRTPI member; however, we would welcome applications from candidates with significant industry experience who are close to qualification.

"Key tasks/responsibilities will include:

  • Providing planning advice to clients and advising on local development plan preparation
  • Preparing documentation to support planning applications
  • Project managing the collation of documents for, and submission of, complex planning applications
  • Preparing for, and making oral representations at inquiries, hearings and examinations in public, and other public meetings
  • Developing and cultivating good relationships with clients, local authority planning officers and fellow professionals.

"Established over 30 years ago in Lewes, we're now based on the University of Sussex campus in Falmer, near Brighton."

A27 road sign [square]Fun fact: Falmer is a small village and civil parish in the Lewes District of East Sussex, England, lying deep in the South Downs between Brighton and Lewes. The village is around 1,000 years old and is mentioned in the 11th-century Domesday Book.

Now, in many towns and villages across our nation, most land carve-ups happened in one of many internecine dust-ups – Royalists against anti-Royalists, that sort of thing. But here, there seems to have been less bloodletting.    

Before the Norman Conquest, the manor of Falmer was held by Wilton Abbey. Afterwards, the larger part appears to have been given to Gundred, wife of William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey. During the 11th century the village was variously known as Falemela, Falemere or Felesmere. The name derives from the village pond – home to a population of ducks and geese – as the old English word 'fallow' – meaning pale-coloured (for the colour of the pond), became ‘Falmer’ over the years.

Edward II visited Falmer in 1324. Charles I granted the manor to Edward Ditchfield in 1628 or 1629 and he sold it to William Craven, later a Lord Mayor of London. At this time its manor extended over 1,240 hectares. The Cravens lost it because they supported the king in the Civil War.

This is not to say that nothing jolted this rural hideaway – by the mid-20th century dramatic changes came. In 1961, the University of Sussex opened its campuses there. The University of Brighton, and historical resource centre The Keep, are also nearby. Falmer became home to Brighton & Hove Albion's Falmer Stadium, although locals tend to call it the American Express Community Stadium – or the AMEX. In 2011, after years of planning battles, the club won the right to build its current stadium, bringing 30,000 people driving through or trying to park in the village during the football season.

But the arrival in 1988 of the A27 between Brighton and Lewes totally changed the village vibe. It split it into two parts, with the road acting as a north/south divide bridged by a small footbridge over the motorway. Once secluded, Falmer is now dominated by the near-constant sound of traffic from one of the UK’s busiest trunk roads.

The National Highways Agency states on its website that the A27 is the only east–west trunk road south of the M25 serving more than 750,000 people in the South Coast, but that safety is a problem along the route, with many accidents and incidents. To improve its safety and serviceability, the agency intends to make improvements to the road – but the consultation processes will be difficult. On Good Friday last year,  Extinction Rebellion activists hung banners saying ‘Join the rebellion’ and ‘no new fossil fuels’ on the footbridge, asking drivers to consider an alternative mode of transport. And several of the older rebels told local newspapers that most of the horns beeping at them came with a friendly wave or a thumbs up. However, although village life is busier than residents might have hoped, it remains an attractive place.

Find out more and apply

Image credits | Chris Dorney, Shutterstock; Prasong Takham, Shutterstock; BarbaraJo, Shutterstock; Daniele Gay, Shutterstock; P Cartwright, Shutterstock