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The Thursday Three 6.04.23

Published on: 6 Apr 2023

​There’s no Friday tomorrow, so here’s a Thursday Three instead (alliteration matters, OK?): three great town planning jobs, three place facts. This week, jobs in Southwark, Bournemouth and Peterborough, and a brief history of Britain's first circus – and beach hut.


Location: London Borough of Southwark

The job: “Southwark’s strategic applications team manages the largest applications in the borough, including large regeneration schemes in Canada Water, the Aylesbury Estate, and Peckham. As a senior planning officer, you will manage your own caseload of complex applications, including large residential and commercial schemes in a dynamic and exciting part of London. You will guide developments to deliver economic and social benefits to our residents while ensuring they meet the highest level of environmental standards.”

Astley's Amphitheatre [square]Fun fact: Nowadays the site is occupied by a tall, modern glass and steel building that contains, among other things a bit environment co-working space – it is, however, pleasingly amphitheatrical in shape. Why? Because 225 Westminster Bridge Road was the location for what can reasonably claim to be Britain’s first modern circus.

Astley’s Amphitheatre was opened in 1773 by Philip Astley, a military horseman and talented trick rider, as a location for his riding school and his performances of acrobatic riding. These apparently including Astley standing with one foot on the saddle, the other on the horse’s head and brandishing a sword as the horse careered about the arena.

Astley’s skilful equestrianism would be accompanied by acrobats, tightrope walkers, jugglers and a clown to fill the gaps between equestrian performances. Thus the modern concept of the circus was born. The amphitheatre had evolved out of open air performances in Lambeth and the early amphitheatre was itself open-air. Ashley, though, gradually covered it with stands and incorporated a stage alongside the equestrian ring. The amphitheatre also hosted theatrical performances and, allegedly, bear-baiting.

Astley himself died in 1814, but the circus continued under different ownerships until 1893. Such was its fame that it features in Jane Austen’s Emma, Charles Dickens’s The Old Curiosity Shop and the contemporary novel Burning Bright by Tracey Chevalier.

Find out more and apply


Location: Bournemouth, Dorset

The job: "BCP is seeking curious, creative and ambitious individuals to be a part of their journey in planning for the future growth and prosperity of the region. We are looking to welcome candidates with the desire to make an impact and feel confident sharing their ideas. The council's team ethos is one which encourages collaboration and thoughtful contribution towards how the council delivers its planning service, to best serve the interests of the community and region.

"Within your role as a planning officer, your accountabilities will include:

  • Appraise and make recommendations and decisions on a wide range of planning applications
  • Conduct public consultations
  • Respond to planning related enquiries 
  • Provide advice and support to planning officers
  • Provide specialist planning related advice and guidance through the pre-application process
  • Conduct inquiries into alleged breaches of planning control
  • Contribute to the preparation of the local plan development plan.

"BCP Council is consistently in the top ten busiest local planning authorities in the country, representative of our diverse area, overall strategic growth and development opportunities, inward investment interest and premier location on the south coast as the place to live, work and play."

Beach huts [square]Fun fact: We tend to think of the beach hut as a traditional feature of the great British seaside that has probably been there since time immemorial. Beach huts are, in fact, an Edwardian invention and the first was built and opened in Bournemouth in 1909.

The static beach hut was an evolution of the Victorian ‘bathing machine’ – a changing hut on wheels in which prudish beachgoers would change into their bathing gear before being wheeled into the water for a swim. These had been in use since the 18th century.

This went on for more than a century until 1909, when Frederick Percy Dolamore, Bournemouth's chief assistant borough engineer and surveyor, figured that it might be more practical to have permanent static huts for hire that beachgoers could use for changing and storing their valuables.

Hut 2359 by Bournemouth Beach Office has a blue plaque and is still available for weekly hire. Nowadays, there are some 2,000 beach huts in Bournemouth, around 10 per cent of the UK total. Three of them are owned by the council and the rest are privately owned. So sought-after are beach huts that they can exchange hands fo considerable sums of money – one on Mudeford Sandspit at Hengistbury Head changed hands for £300,000 in 2018.

Find out more and apply


Location: Peterborough, Cambridgeshire

The job: "With a new chief executive and a new executive director, we are taking a fresh look at what we do and how we do it. We are gearing up to start work on a brand-new Local Plan, and there has never been a better time to join us, as you will have the opportunity to shape the future, from the very start of the process.

"We are seeking a principal planner to join our friendly planning policy team playing a key role in the delivery of our planning policy documents. Our local plan will establish where and how Peterborough should grow, decide how many homes we should build and determine where new jobs should be located. At the same time, these plans will protect the very things that make Peterborough a great place to live, such as our parks and historic areas.

"We need a qualified planner with experience in planning policy who can help deliver our diverse and exciting policy service."

Anglo Saxon Chronicle [square]Fun fact: The Peterborough Chronicle is considered the only prose history in English between the Norman Conquest and the 14th century. Considered to be part of the collection of works known as The Anglo Saxon Chronicle, it was written by several generations of monks at Peterborough Abbey.

It’s particularly interesting for two reasons:

  • It charts dramatic changes in the language from the late Saxon period into Middle English, where the French influence on English vocabulary became very apparent. But it also illustrates the simplification of English grammar, including the loss of grammatical gender – something that persists in most other European languages.
  • It provides a tangible account of life and living conditions for regular people during what became known as The Anarchy, a civil war in England between 1138 and 1153 that led to a serious breakdown of law and order. There were multiple warring factions – two pretenders to the English crown and the nobility, who supported neither but who built castles to defend their land and interests. The Chronicle depicts the cruelty meted out on the general population by the barons as they raised taxes, built castles, administered harsh justice for petty crimes and coerced common people into working for them for next to nothing.

It was a brutal period and the Chronicle is a rare source of compassion for the ordinary folk that bore the brunt of the elite’s battle for power and prestige. It is currently held in the Bodleian Library in Oxford.

Find out more and apply

Image credits | iStock