ENews Issue - 26 February 2014

ENews - February 2014

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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In this issue:

  • New workshops to kick off the 2014 Programme in Scotland
  • No job too far for TRA's training team
  • Design in the context of the NPPF - brand new workshop for 2014
  • Certificated Enforcement course: you need to reserve your place early!
  • Reminder: Post-election training for Councillors involved in planning
  • Bespoke conference developed for Welsh authorities




New workshops to kick off the 2014 Programme in Scotland

As mentioned in last month's Enews, our new training workshop programmes for 2014 are currently being circulated to our mailing contacts. Please get in touch if you would like a copy of our 2014 brochure. If you are not on our mailing list, but would like to receive regular email updates on forthcoming training events, you can sign up here.

This year's Scotland programme will begin on 13 May with 2 newly developed workshops to be held at our venue in Edinburgh:

Operational Development and Permitted Development

This workshop is suitable for all staff (technicians, enforcement and planning officers) who deal with enquiries about "Do I need permission?" or "Will I have to make a planning application?" This year, we have expanded our ever-relevant and popular workshop on Permitted Development to look that bit wider at some of the issues related to Operational Development. These will include: what constitutes building and other operations; exclusions from the definition; when operational development is "substantially completed"; and dealing with the "fall-back" position. The workshop will also look at how PD works, highlight some crucial definitions, and offer help in interpreting and applying the most frequently used classes of PD. Its aim is to help participants develop the knowledge and confidence essential in dealing with these complex aspects o f the planning process. The workshop will provide a useful opportunity to look in detail at Householder PD, minor development and changes to the PD regime. Crucially, it will provide an opportunity for delegates to ask any questions about PD.

Basic Tree Hazard Assessment and Tree Preservation Orders

Many Councils are now without specific tree officer resources, leaving planning departments with a skills shortage in terms of tree assessment, consultations on new planning applications and management for TPOs. This brand new workshop has been developed to provide visual inspection training at a basic level 1 for staff from a non-arboricultural background. It aims to help participants identify obvious defects from ground level so they can report their findings and help determine the suitability of trees for a new TPO or whether works requested are suitable for their species and/or condition. Using a variety of techniques, including a site visit, the workshop considers the legal and safety implications of hazardous trees; how to recognise hazardous trees, determine the level of risk and decide on an appropriate course of action; and the importance of collecting and maintaining adequate information. The criteria for the serving of a new TPO will be explained and participants will gain a basic understanding of BS3998:2010 "Treework - Recommendations". They will also be encouraged to recognise their own limitations and maintain their own health and safety when carrying out visual inspections.

Bookings are now being taken and can be made using the booking forms available on the TRA website via the above links to the individual workshop details. If you are unable to make a firm booking(s) straight away, provisional bookings to reserve places are recommended and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

Don't forget, discounts of between 10 and 15% are still available under our Discounted Block Booking Scheme, when booking just 2 or more please over any number of events in the 2014 programme. Many authorities have taken advantage of the scheme over recent years to gain even better value for money. Booking 4 or more places this year will still mean that you will be paying less per workshop then in 2010! A special block booking form giving further details can be downloaded from the TRA website, where you will also find details of all the other workshops in this year's programme.

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No job too far for TRA's training team

Recently two of TRA's presenters have travelled to separate ends of the country to deliver bespoke training sessions: one up in the Scottish Highlands and another down in (an unusually) wet and windy Guernsey!

The training workshop at Highland Council was for the benefit of planning officers, using the NEW 'mix and match' approach which has been exclusively developed for Scottish authorities by TRA presenter, Mike Hyde; the idea is to increase the cost-effectiveness of in-house training by enabling two topics to be covered in the same day. This particular one-day workshop delivered by Mike covered conditions, Section 75s obligations and development monitoring. The first part of the workshop examined the use of conditions and planning obligations with reference to Circulars 4/1998 and 3/2012, highlighting examples of both good and bad practice. It also looked at the procedures relating to applications to vary/discharge conditions and obligations. The second part of the training looked at the monitoring of conditions, particularly following the introduction in 2009 of the Notification of Initiation and Completion of Development provisions.

The main aim of the training was to give participants an understanding of when and where conditions should be used and the consequences of their imposition on the implementation of development. Feedback from the participants was very encouraging:

  • Well delivered training by an experienced and knowledgeable presenter.
  • Good to have discussions/participation. Useful to have handouts of the slides - makes a good set of notes.
  • Very well presented by an experienced presenter who is able to discuss at length the subject matter. Very worthwhile.
  • I found the course very useful and appreciated the practical examples set against the presenters DM background.

The training delivered at the States of Guernsey was aimed at planners and Legal Officers of the Crown. It was developed and delivered by TRA presenter, Vivien Green, and involved two half-day sessions on consecutive days.

The session for Legal Officers covered Compliance Notices and looked at: the legal framework for use of the compliance notice and related enforcement tools; time limits for taking enforcement action; the elements of the compliance notice and dealing with the grounds of appeal; the practical issues in drafting and securing compliance with notices; and issues related to whether to prosecute for non-compliance, including who to prosecute and whether it would be in the public interest.

The session for planners focused on Planning Conditions, in particular: the tests that need to be applied to the use of conditions if they are to be legally watertight and enforceable; examples of good and bad practice in drafting of conditions; the benefits of using model conditions; some of the different types of conditions (including the use of pre-commencement conditions); and securing compliance with conditions.

Once again participant feedback following the training was very complimentary:

  • Good knowledge based on various jurisdictions and lots of experience meant that answers to questions were extremely practical and focused.
  • Once again very informative with some great points to take away and if implemented will improve the Department's effectiveness.
  • Highlighted particular aspects where the drafting of the compliance notice can be improved which should hopefully increase the likelihood of undertaking a successful prosecution.
  • Has given me a greater perspective of the on-going monitoring of conditions and how conditions can ultimately be enforced.
  • Very useful to look at examples and apply tests. Also raised an awareness of the inadequacies of some of the conditions in general use.

If your authority has any particular training requirements and would like to organise a session that covers specific topics, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with Angela Holmes to discuss the options available.

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Design in the context of the NPPF - brand new workshop for 2014

Design workshops have always proved popular in our workshop programmes and we are introducing a brand new one for 2014 - Securing Good Design within the NPPF.

Design clearly remains a priority for the current goverment, in terms of both decision-making and policy-making. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) devotes almost two pages to design and the important benefits that good quality design and robust policies can bring. However, it is challenging enough for LPAs to encourage development at the moment, especially without compromising on the quality of design. At the same time, the level of advice that used to be available to planners, through CABE and supporting guidance, has been greatly reduced.

Although the challenges for authorities have changed, the principles of good design have not. This new workshop will help participants understand the basics of good design, within the context of the NPPF, so that they know what they should be looking to achieve in terms of design and, crucially, how best to achieve it. The skills gained will help when negotiating with applicants, agents and developers; when explaining design issues to councillors and the public; and when defending decisions at appeal and proposed policies at Local Plan exams.

The workshop is delivered by an experienced urban designer, Timothy Crawshaw, and is aimed at development management, planning policy and design officers. It will take place on 5 June at our London venue. A leaflet and booking form can be downloaded from our website. Provisional bookings can be made using our online provisional booking facility.

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Certificated Enforcement course: you need to reserve your place early!

After 17 years, with more than 400 students taking part and 145 graduates having been awarded the certificate so far, TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement is still going strong. In fact most of the modules are provisionally fully-booked well in advance so it's really important to let us know in good time if you would like to attend any of the modules. There are only 12 places on each module.

Here's the state of play on the next couple of modules:

  • Planning Enforcement and Material Change of Use, 29-30 April and 11-12 June 2014

    Fully booked but includes 3 provisonal bookings still waiting to be confirmed. We have a waiting list in case not all three are confirmed so please contact Shelagh Pooley if you would like to go on the waiting list
  • Key Principles of Planning Enforcement, 6-7 October & 24-25 November 2014

    Taking into account provisional bookings, there are just 4 places left. This is the "introductory" module that most people start with and it won't be running again for another 12 months. If you are interested in attending we recommend that you let Shelagh know as soon as possible.

Shelagh can be contacted about bookings or any other information regarding the course as a whole by email or telephone on 01204 385678.

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Reminder: Post-election training for Councillors involved in planning

With local elections fast approaching, your authority may well be thinking about the options for providing training in the planning system for your Councillors and considering approaching TRA. If so, it is worth noting that dates are already starting to get booked up, although with our large team of experienced presenters we shouldn't have a problem accommodating dates at this stage. However, if you have a preferred date(s) we would certainly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

As market leaders, TRA has trained Councillors in more than 220 authorities across the UK. We can respond to various training requirements, providing individual bespoke sessions as appropriate, but particularly popular in the post-election period are our one-day sessions:

  • A Briefing on Planning for Councillors
  • The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice

Both of these sessions are delivered by two members of our presenting team (providing a wide range of experience) and a real life case study is referred to throughout which helps to reinforce key points during the day. This gives the training a much stronger impact and in our experience the case study in particular is an element which Councillors find interesting and useful.

If the time commitment for Councillors is a major consideration we can also offer shorter sessions (usually 3 hours) with flexible timings during a morning, afternoon or evening. These sessions are essentially shortened versions of the above one-day workshops and are delivered by one presenter.

The Training for Councillors section of our website provides further information and answers the most frequently asked questions. If you are interested in the possibility of arranging a training session and would like any additional information, such as an outline programme, please feel free to contact Angela Holmes.

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Bespoke conference developed for Welsh authorities

Following receipt of some grant funding, Newport City Council recently commissioned TRA to develop and deliver a bespoke planning conference aimed at elected Members, Community Councillors and Planning Agents from Newport and adjoining authorities.

The conference was held over one day and was a 'free to attend' event covering the enforcement and appeals process, Section 106 and CIL, affordable housing and new permitted development rights in Wales.

The session was prepared and delivered by two TRA presenters, Vivien Green and Lee Prebble. On the day, around 40 people attended and the feedback was excellent:

  • This was a very informative day and would be of use to all Community Councillors.
  • A wide range of topics covered. Well explained when answering questions.
  • Good overall course. Plenty of opportunity to ask questions.
  • Excellent, reinforced my own knowledge on a number of issues and provided a clear insight into others, particularly Permitted Development.
  • Very informative and rewarding. Clearly showed that planning is a mine field. Thank you for the invite!
  • A good review of the planning service. Very informative.

TRA are always willing to consider designing bespoke in-house training sessions that are tailored to an individual client's requirements. In times such as these where budgets are tight and training has to be focused on where it is needed most, providing joint training can really prove to be an enormous benefit and many of our clients are now taking this approach.

Organising joint training events with neighbouring authorities or as part of a County Group not only maximises the cost effectiveness of the training but it also gives participants the opportunity to 'network' and share experiences with their colleagues from other local authorities.

If you would like more information on running an in-house training event whether it be on a bespoke basis as above, or one of our more 'standard' workshops, please contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

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Contact Information

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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