ENews Issue - 14 February 2006

ENews - February 2006

TRA ENews is the monthly newsletter of Trevor Roberts Associates. It provides information about TRA generally, its staff and Associates, current and forthcoming events, new training courses and consultancy services etc.

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Negotiation is an aspect of management to which planners are introduced early in their careers and where they often have a lot of experience. However, they rarely, if ever, have any specific training in the concepts and skills of negotiation.

Running as part of the TRA/Cambridge University Certificated Course in Management Concepts and Skills in Planning, the module on Negotiation Concepts and Skills offers a unique opportunity to gain an understanding of the concepts involved and to improve your existing skills.

Areas covered include:

  • the context of negotiation: time factors, information, the planning organisation

  • the concept of commitment in negotiation

  • non-negotiated outcomes, when not to negotiate

  • different approaches to negotiation (win/win, win/lose etc.)

  • tec hniques associated with different types of negotiation

  • negotiation "gambits" used in the planning field and the assumptions on which they are based

  • power relationships and their implications for negotiation

  • the personality dimension of negotiation, its uses and limitations.

  • The module is running on 11-12 May and 29-30 June at Madingley Hall, Cambridge.

    Please note that we are happy to have people attend individual modules on a "one-off" basis (ie it is not necessary to be aiming for the qualification on offer).

    Places are strictly limited to 12 and there are only a few still available. For further details or to reserve a place please contact Shelagh Pooley on 01204 385678.

    If you are not able to commit to the certificated module at Cambridge, please note that we also offer a one-day workshop on Negotiation. This is running as part of our programmes in England (23 March in Manchester and on 5 October in London) and Scotland (19 October in Glasgow). It can also be delivered on an in-house basis for an individual authority or group of authorities.


TRA is well-known for its workshops for planning and development staff and many of these can be delivered on your own premises for staff from your authority (and perhaps others from neighbouring authorities).

In-house workshops delivered recently include: Understanding and Defining Material Change of Use for Gateshead MBC; Local Plan Inquiry Skills & Procedures for Scottish Borders Council; Supporting the Development Control Function for South Gloucestershire Council; and Negotiation Concepts & Skills for the Isle of Wight Council, to be followed later this month with a session on Personal Effectiveness & Time Management.

Organising training on an in-house basis can be particularly cost effective and we are happy to provide training for a group of authorities who are then able to share the co st between them.

TRA provides three main series of in-house officer training:

- in-house training for planning support staff

- in-house training in development control, including an excellent series on basic skills and procedures which is ideal for new or less experienced staff

- in-house training for inquiries.

If you would like further information on any of our in-house training sessions please contact Penny O'Shea.


If you are considering engaging external trainers to deliver training for your Councillors in the period following the elections, TRA will be very pleased to help. However, May to July is always an extremely busy time for our Councillor training team so you will need to get in touch in good time in order to reserve dates.

Details of the workshops available for Councillors can be found on our website, along with a list of our clients and feedback from previous participants.

Our two most popular workshops, especially for new Councillors, are A Briefing on Planning for Councillors, which covers planning policy and procedures, principally in relation to development control and The Role of Councillors in Planning: probity and propriety issues, which tackles tricky issues such as conflicts and declarations of interest, material considerations, lobbying, and decisions contrary to officer advice.

If your authority doesn't have elections this year or if you are looking for more focused training for Councillors with some experience, we also offer a range of Briefings on specific topics.

If you are in Scotland and considering training for your Councillors, details of the options available can also be found on our website.

For further details and a no-commitment discussion please contact Penny O'Shea.


As part of our 2006 programme of workshops in England and Wales we have introduced a brand new workshop on Character and Appearance as a Material Consideration.

The workshop is aimed at DC officers who have to make recommendations on planning applications, more specialist staff who give advice in relation to character and appearance, and those involved in fighting appeals, whether for the Council or the appellant.

It considers how significant the issue of character and appearance is as a material consideration, not only within Conservation Areas, but more widely, in both urban and rural surroundings. The effect of a proposal on the character and appearance of an area is one of the most commonly identified issues in Inspectors' decisions, but one whose significance is often underrated outside Conservation Areas.

The workshop is presented by Mike Muston, one of TRA's Senior Associates and will cover the following:

  • the statutory framework

  • defining the existing character and appearance of an area

  • the examination of a proposal to determine whether or not the character and appearance of an area is affected

  • when to look to refuse an application on these grounds

  • dealing with councillor overturns

  • fighting appeals where character and appearance is an issue.

  • There will be an opportunity during the workshop to consider participants' own problems and experiences.

    There are places available for this workshop in York on 25 April and in London on 21 September. For a leaflet/booking form or to reserve a place provisionally please contact Shelagh Pooley.


Calderdale MBC is the latest authority to have an online DC Procedure Guide developed by TRA. The Guide, which was officially handed over to the authority earlier this month, was produced by a TRA team led by Trevor Roberts. Initial feedback from users of the Guide was that "it will very useful; it is extremely user friendly and the links to boxes of related information are excellent."

The preparation of an authority specific online Procedure Guide is a unique service developed by TRA. Guides are now operational in 18 local authorities and our teams are currently working on a further four.

Before each Guide is developed, all aspects of procedures and performance within the department are reviewed by TRA. This review is a vital element of the assignment as a whole and results in a substantial written report with justified conclusions and key recommendations for change. The implementation of these recommendations can have a signifi cant impact on the quality, consistency and speed of development control performance, all of which are crucial concerns in the era of the Planning Delivery Grant.

Some basic information on this service is available on our website. It is also possible to view a demonstration version of the Procedure Guide. If you would like to explore things further please feel free to contact Penny O'Shea without obligation.

Please note that we can also produce Procedure Guides for Building Control. Details are available on our website.


Congratulations and well done to Helen Brookes-Martin who has been named Young Planner of the Year for 2005 by the RTPI.

Helen is Planning Regulation and Online Services Manager with Dudley MBC. You can see more details of her career background and achievements on the RTPI's Young Planner of the Year page.

Helen has successfully completed all four modules on the TRA/Cambridge University Certificated Course in Management Concepts and Skills in Planning and is currently awaiting the award of her certificate.


This section of ENews is a way for people who have taken part in the TRA/Cambridge University certificated courses to keep in contact with us and each other. We are keen to keep in touch so please let Shelagh at TRA know if you have any news.

This month, Heather Morgan is moving from Mid Suffolk DC to take up the post of Head of Planning and Housing Strategy with Spelthorne Borough Council. Heather undertook two of the management modules at Madingley during 2001-2003. We wish her the best of luck in her new job.

If you have gained the certificate in Planning Enforcement and are pursuing RTPI Technical Membership please can you keep in touch with Shelagh. In particular, she would be very interested to learn who has achieved Technical Membership but please also feel free to keep her generally up to date on how the process is going.


TRA has been organising a Forum on Enforcement for the past 15 years and it has become established as the CPD event for all those involved in enforcement. Last October's Forum was significantly over-subscribed, meaning that many people who tried to book were disappointed. Because TRA is particularly committed to providing training for those involved in enforcement, we have therefore decided to run two Forums a year from now on, one in March/April and one in October as usual.

Details of the next Forum, taking place on Thursday 30 March, are now available on our website and publicity has been circulated to our usual mailing contacts.

Please make sure to book early for this event so that you don't miss out. Please telephone for a leaflet/booking form if you do not have one. Provisional bookings can be made now using the provisional bookings facility on our website or by telephoning Shelagh Pooley on 01204 385678.

We are anticipating an excellent event as usual and hope to see you there.


Trevor Roberts Associates

1 Atlas House, St. Georges Square,

Bolton, BL1 2HB,

United Kingdom Tel: (01204) 385678 Fax: (01204) 386376 Email: mail@tra-ltd.co.uk Website: http://www.tra-ltd.co.uk/


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