ENews Issue - 31 March 2014

ENews - March 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.

View our contact Information or subscription information.

In this issue:

  • Wokshop on Viability proves increasingly popular
  • Help us spread the word about TRA
  • New Format for 2014 Conference for Planning Support Staff
  • CIL Exams - TRA offers alternative to the Inspectorate
  • Councillor training team in action in Mendip
  • More brand new workshops for the 2014 programme




Wokshop on Viability proves increasingly popular

The planning system increasingly requires the incorporation of tests of viability across a range of policy and development management areas. TRA's popular workshop 'Understanding Viability: key concepts in Development Economics for Planners' is aimed at all planning and development professionals from both the public and private sectors, whose work involves delivering effective plans and policies or the negotiation of development contributions in a planning agreement.

Already this year, the workshop has been delivered in-house for four authorities (Test Valley, Newport, Canterbury and the Isle of Man) by TRA presenter, Simon Rowberry; and feedback from those sessions was excellent (see below).

Specific objectives of the workshop are to:

  • assist understanding of how the commercial sector carries out appraisal of proposed development
  • equip participants with basic skills associated with project assessment and evaluation
  • develop an awareness of the impact of planning considerations on development schemes and their commercial return
  • appreciate the language and concepts of property development to ensure that there can be mutual understanding in negotiations with the various stakeholders
  • develop participants' confidence in working on viability issues in an informed and effective way.

Participant comments:

  • Met expectations - and more. Gave a great overview on how commercial outfits may carry out an appraisal of proposed development and in turn how this can be impacted by planning decisions. Training has allowed me to have a basic skill to be able to prepare for such appraisals and question if better understanding is required. Pip Williams, Test Valley.
  • Very much met expectation. I feel I have the basic tools to understand viability assessments and where to look for the 'hidden costs'. Natasha Ireland, South and Vale (Test Valley session).
  • Topics covered a wide range of up-to-date data. Very informal, allowing questions all the way through and very informed answers given. The speaker was very knowledgeable on the subject. Paul Marshall, Newport.
  • The presenter was very good at pitching the presentation at both officers and members. He was also asked to depart slightly from the original agreed agenda in order to provide a more bespoke training event which dealt with Newport's particular issues; the presenter was amenable to this and it was much appreciated. Tracey Brooks, Newport.
  • Very informative and thoughtful advice for future negotiation. Thank you. Alison Gravett, Canterbury City Council.
  • Very useful information was discussed and case studies were helpful to put the information discussed into practice. Steve Musk, Canterbury City Council.
  • Informative, engaging, practical and practically applicable. The presenter was enthusiastic and engaging throughout. Ed Riley, Isle of Man Government.
  • Better than I expected. I understood more than I thought I would, which was due to the clarity of how Simon presented it. Very much enjoyed the day. Jennifer Chance, Isle of Man Government.

If you are interested in running an in-house session on Understanding Viability and would like to receive more information, please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes, who will be more than happy to provide you with a no obligation quotation.

Please note that this workshop is also running in our 2014 inter-authority programme in Manchester.

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Help us spread the word about TRA

2014 is TRA's 30th anniversary year and one of the keys to our success and longevity is the solid reputation we have built up. This reputation is based on the fact that we provide both quality services and value for money and it has grown over time thanks to the many clients who have felt comfortable in recommending us, allowing us to publish their feedback, or simply suggesting that colleagues take a look at what we offer. "Word of mouth" is extermely important to us.

Naturally, if you are able to recommend TRA from personal experience that is much appreciated. So if you attend one of our events, either at an external venue or in-house at your own organisation, and would be happy to share your thoughts about the course with others please do take the time to complete our evaluation slip and provide your name. This enables us to publish feedback that potential participants might find helpful.

But even if you haven't yet tried out our services for yourself but can see that they may be of interest to people you know, then there are still ways in which you can help spread the word:

  • If you spot something on our website that you'd like to pass on to a colleague you can use our Email Page function. You'll find this in the top right hand corner of each page (with a little brown envelope icon). Clicking on this allows you to enter the name and email address of the person you'd like to send the page to and gives you space to write a short message to go with it. They'll receive an email from TRA saying that you have suggested they take a look at that particular page. Simple!
  • In a similar vein, if you know someone who may find this ENewsletter of interest then please do forward it on. If they like what they see, they can subscribe straight away and receive their own copy in future - there are instructions at the bottom of the newsletter. Alternatively, they can sign-up via our website.

Thanks for your help.

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New Format for 2014 Conference for Planning Support Staff

Details for the 2014 Conference for Planning Support Staff have now been finalised and are available to view on the TRA website. The conference will take place on 19 June 2014 at The Wesley in London.

TRA have been organising this event annually since 1990, and it represents a unique and extremely valuable opportunity for those involved in planning support to meet with colleagues from other authorities, and learn about current best practice and future developments affecting planning.

We have decided to change the format slightly for this year's Conference and more time will be devoted to the two parallel workshop sessions which enable participants to discuss topics in more detail and exchange ideas and experiences: something we know they find particularly useful. Once again the Conference aims to reflect the changing nature of the work of support staff in this particularly crucial period of uncertainty and challenges. Contributors and the topics they will be addressing include:

  • VIVIEN GREEN, Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate

    Vivien will examine some key changes to secondary legislation from April 2014 which have implications for the work of support staff, and will also look at the recently unveiled NPPG and what this means for support staff
  • LEE PREBBLE, Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate

    Lee will explore the art of customer care, looking at what customers now expect and the ways in which LPAs - and support staff in particular - can best address these expectations, The session will offer practical solutions and ideas which participants will be able to use immediately
  • SIMON ROWBERRY, Interim Head of Planning & Building Control at St Albans City and District Council

    Simon will look at how St Albans Council has transformed the work of its support and technical staff and the steps they and other councils will need to take in the face of forthcoming challenges and opportunities.

As in recent years, the conference is being run in association with the Planning Admin Network (PAN), a free online network open to anyone with an interest in the administration of the planning service in England, Wales and Scotland. Membership of PAN is absolutely free and registration is quick and easy via the PAN website. A discounted price of £170 for the conference is available to PAN members (normal event price £185), and further discounts are available to all via our discounted block booking scheme for those booking 2 or more places (over any number of events) at the same time.

Bookings are now invited and can be made using the booking form available on the website (or the block booking form for 2 or more places). If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings are recommended and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

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CIL Exams - TRA offers alternative to the Inspectorate

If you are working towards the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy in your authority, why not let TRA provide you with a quotation for the Examination?

Unlike Local Plans, CIL Charging Schedules do not need to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. The Government effectively opened up the examination proces through the legislation: s212 of the Planning Act 2008 says that the authority must appoint someone who, in their opinion, is independent of the authority and has appropriate qualifications and experience. Whilst subsequent CLG guidance suggested that a Planning Inspector is likely to fulfill these criteria, going automatically to the Planning Inspectorate is not the only option for authorities. Our expert Examiners are highly experienced consultant Planning Inspectors, enabling TRA to offer a credible alternative.

As an organisation that has provided support for the planning service for many years but which is independent of both local and central government, TRA is ideally placed to provide a prompt, professional and competitively-priced CIL Examination service.

Further information can be found on our website. You can also contact Penny O'Shea to find out more, including likely costs, without obligation.

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Councillor training team in action in Mendip

In November 2013, Mendip District Council commissioned TRA to prepare and deliver a series of three training workshops over several months. The training was specifically for the benefit of their Councillors; they began with our popular one-day workshop A Briefing on Planning and followed on with Planning Appeals and then Planning Obligations and Conditions.

The final session has now been delivered and the feedback from Councillors overall was extremely positive:

A Briefing on Planning - delivered by Jed Griffiths and Peter Lerner

  • Exceeded expectations by a large margin! I stayed wide awake all through! Peter Bradshaw
  • Very good and very practical. David Stevens
  • As a member of the Planning Board it was very helpful. Daniel Unwin
  • Most enjoyable and informative. Nigel Hewitt-Cooper
  • Excelled expectations - well done! Well presented, easy delivery. Both presenters were lively and obviously knowledgeable. Nigel Taylor.

Planning Appeals: the Councillors dimension - delivered by David Kaiserman

  • Most certainly met my expectations. What a splendid company with consecutively excellent presenters. Nigel Woollcombe-Adams
  • Yes, met my expectations. Very good. Thank you! Daniel Unwin
  • Fully met with my expectations. Brilliant! Peter Bradshaw
  • Very interesting and thought provoking. Nigel Hewitt-Cooper
  • Very informative. Nick Cottle
  • An excellent presentation. David Stevens.

Planning Obligations and Conditions - delivered by Lee Prebble

  • Very interesting. Nick Cottle
  • Excellent presentation, understanding conditions particularly. Peter Bradshaw
  • Met my expectations, and more. Val Horler
  • This talk should be given within 6 months of becoming a District Councillor. Edward Drewe
  • Another very high standard presentation from this company. Nigel Woollcombe-Adams.

If your authority is interested in running a series of several workshops, as above, or if you have any particular bespoke training requirements for your Councillors, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes directly for a no commitment discussion.

Remember, the prices we quote are 'all-inclusive' and therefore include all of our fees, presenter's expenses and pre-course/course material; so you are aware from the outset what you can expect to pay at invoicing stage.

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More brand new workshops for the 2014 programme

In addition to the new workshops featured in February's Enews - covering Operational Development and Permitted Development, Basic Tree Hazard Assessment and TPOs and Securing Good Design within the NPPF, there are yet more workshops newly developed for the 2014 programme, coming up in June:

Managing the Planning Customer's Experience - Glasgow, 3 June 2014 (and London, 23 September 2014)

In an increasingly demanding world - where users expect excellent service at minimum cost - the provision of a quality, customer-oriented planning service can go a long way towards achieving the quality outcomes local authorities are striving for. This new one-day interactive workshop provides planners and technical/support staff with an understanding of why customer care matters now more than ever and how to deliver good customer service at little or no extra cost in terms of time or money. It explores what good customer care actually means and why it matters, the importance of listening skills and communicating clearly, handling complaints and understanding and preventing conflict, and concludes with action points for achieving positive outcomes. Th ere are many courses on customer care but the benefit of this one is that it is designed and delivered by a planner who understands the competing demands within local government planning and the sorts of issues participants will be facing on a daily basis. The workshop is delivered by Chris Weetman, a planning consultant and former local authority Development Services Manager with considerable experience of improving service structure/delivery within local authorities.

Writing Effective Reports - London, 5 June 2014 (and Edinburgh, 6 November 2014)

With resources being so stretched, is it possible to produce short and focused planning reports that will nevertheless stand up to scrutiny by Councillors, Planning Inspectors/Reporters and the public? This interactive workshop is full of tips from a very experienced practitioner and will be of particular value to relatively new or less experienced planners. It begins with a recap of material considerations and the weight to be given to them, before exploring in detail what makes a good Committee Report (or appeal statement) including thinking about who we are writing for and the purpose of the report, and striking the balance between what to leave in and what to cut out. This workshop is delivered by David Kaiserman , formerly a consultant Planning Inspector and Acting Director of Planning and Envirnmental Health where he took a leading role in aspects including plan preparation and appeals.

Bookings can be made using the booking forms available on the TRA website via the above links. Provisional bookings are recommended if you are unable to make a firm booking straight away and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

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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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