Fenland Councillors run through the 'basics' of planning and 'good practice' for Committee

TRA has vast experience of training, advising and observing Planning/DM Committees and was recently commissioned to deliver two half day training sessions at Fenland District Council; first off was a ‘Briefing on Planning’ which was then followed by ‘Good Practice for Committees’. The first session was aimed at non-planning Committee Members, including those from local towns and parishes; and the second session was for the benefit of Fenland Councillors who sit on the Planning/DM Committee.

The short briefing on planning covered the basic policy and procedural aspects of the UK planning system. It gave a general overview of planning, with a focus on development management. In particular it helped attendees understand something of the broader framework of planning so that:

  • they know where they fit in
  • they can ask better informed questions of their officers
  • they can explain more effectively the actions of themselves, their Committee and their Council
  • they can recognise opportunities where they can have an impact.

The second session on Good Practice for Committees, helped to develop and disseminate best practice for planning committee Members.

Specific objectives of the training were to:

  • help participants to review the purpose and operation of the Planning Committee, and their own performance as a Member
  • focus on specific aspects of the operation of the Planning Committee, including:
    • delegation to officers and what is reserved for Committee consideration
    • the roles of Members and officers at the committee and before the meeting
    • late representations
    • public speaking
    • member site visits
    • decisions taken against officer advice
  • assist participants so that they can act with confidence as Planning Committee members based on an awareness of the legal, policy and procedural background
  • celebrate good practice so that the Council’s planning committee members enjoy facing up to the many challenges involved in their role, enhancing the economy and environment of their area.

Both workshops were delivered by TRA Presenter, Peter Lerner, and the feedback was very positive:

A Briefing on Planning

  • Excellent – best general planning training I have attended. Held attention and ample opportunity for Q & A’s. The Trainer went at a good steady pace and we could hear every word clearly.  Cllr Dee Laws
  • Learnt a fair bit and yes, it met my expectations. Enjoyed it and was not tempted to fall asleep, unlike other courses I have attended! Cllr D Davies
  • The Trainer was concise in his presentation. I have had a lot of planning training but this was, in my mind, a very good presentation. Cllr David Connor
  • As a Parish Councillor it was an excellent insight into the decision making process and will help our sub-committee present our Council’s opinions to the District Council.  Cllr John Maxwell.

Good Practice for Planning Committees

  • Informative, well structured, excellent content and very well delivered. Exceeded my expectations!!  Cllr Ian Benney
  • Good clear delivery of the presentation, pleased to receive a hard copy of the presentation afterwards – handy memory jogger! Cllr Dee Laws
  • Extremely helpful in understanding how the process works.  Cllr Lisa Eves
  • It has given me a lot of knowledge and a good insight. In future I will give more consideration to the various views of the meeting.  Cllr A Bristow.

If you are interested in learning more about either of these workshops; or you would like to see an outline programme for any of our other sessions for Councillors, then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.