ENews Issue - 30 May 2014

ENews - May 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:

  • Looking to appoint an Examiner for Neighbourhood Plans?
  • Support Staff Conference - last chance to book!
  • Certificated Enforcement course: next chance to attend introductory module
  • Time to book post-election training for Councillors involved in planning?
  • Workshops coming up in Scotland this Autumn
  • East Herts prepare staff for giving evidence at Hearings and Inquiries




Looking to appoint an Examiner for Neighbourhood Plans?

If you work in local authority planning the chances are that your authority is already involved - at least to some extent - in supporting your local communities with neighbourhood planning. According to DCLG, more than half of all LPAs in England have received applications to designate one or more Neighbourhood Areas and 630 had been successfully designated by the end of 2013. Although less than 10% of Neighbourhood Areas have published a Draft Plan so far, neighbourhood planning is clearly gaining momentum and a lot more Plans are expected to come through this year.

An LPA has a number of statutory duties to support neighbourhood planning in their area, including making arrangements for the independent examination of a Plan before it can be put to a referendum. The LPA can choose who to appoint to examine the Plan (with the agreement of the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum) provided that the Examiner:

  • has appropriate qualifications and experience
  • is independent of the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum, and
  • has no interest in any land that may be affected by the proposed Plan.

Having provided support for the planning service for many years and, being independent of both local and central government, Trevor Roberts Associates is ideally placed to offer appropriately qualified and experienced Independent Examiners. Our Examiners are all Chartered Town Planners but have a wide range of backgrounds and experience, enabling us to suggest the most appropriate people based on the characteristics of the area, particular issues involved etc.

Please see our website for further information on TRA's Neighbourhood Plan Examinations service.

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Support Staff Conference - last chance to book!

As mentioned in previous issues of ENews, our Conference for Planning Support Staff is due to take place at The Wesley in London on 19 June 2014. Booking is going well but there is still time to reserve your place if you haven't already done so, and take advantage of this excellent opportunity to meet with colleagues from other authorities and to learn about current best practice and future developments affecting planning from our expert panel of speakers.

The new format being adopted for this year's event means that more time will be devoted to the parallel session workshops than previously, enabling participants to discuss topics in more detail and exchange ideas and experiences. Feedback received in the past has indicated that participants found this to be a very useful element of the conference.

The topics covered during these sessions will be:

  • Key changes to secondary legislation and the new National Planning Practice Guidance - the implications for planning support

    Session to be led by Vivien Green, Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate
  • Why customer care matters and how delivering good customer service can go a long way

    Session to be led by Lee Prebble, Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate

The Conference will also include a presentation by Simon Rowberry, Interim Head of Planning & Building Control at St Albans City and District Council, who will be exploring forthcoming challenges and opportunities and how to develop the role of support staff.

Once again, the event is being run in conjunction with the Planning Admin Network (PAN), a free online network open to anyone with an interest in the administration of the planning service. Membership of PAN is absolutely FREE and registration is quick and easy via the PAN website: (www.planningadminnetwork.co.uk). A discounted price for the conference is available to PAN members, and further discounts are available to all via our discounted Block Booking system when booking 2 or more places (over any number of events) at the same time.

Further details for the conference and a downloadable booking form (or Block Booking form) can be found on the TRA website. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, places can be reserved provisionally by telephoning 01204 385678 or via the online provisional booking system.

We hope to see you there!

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Certificated Enforcement course: next chance to attend introductory module

The "introductory" module in TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement will be running in October and November and there are a few places remaining. Offering an ideal opportunity for new students to join this popular programme, the module won't be running again for another 12 months so you need to get in touch soon if you would like to attend.

The certificated course programme is modular - consisting of 5 modules - and although it is not essential to attend the Key Principles of Planning and Enforcement module first, we recommend it wherever possible since it provides a valuable grounding for the other modules.

The Key Principles module will take place at Madingley Hall, Cambridge on 8-9 October and 25-26 November 2014. It provides an excellent introduction to enforcement, ideally suited to staff new to enforcement, whether qualified or not, who need to learn quickly in order to get on with the job. It is also of great benefit to established enforcement staff who may not previously have had much specific training, giving them a good framework for their practical experience. Full details of this module and what it covers, and of the enforcement programme as a whole, can be found on our website.

Below are some comments from people who have attended the Key Principles module and you can also see comments from previous students on the enforcement programme as a whole on our website.

  • Anyone debating whether to do this course, or not sure it's right for them - don't hesitate, sign up, you will have no regrets. The information "on tap" from the Tutor is second to none and will be a benefit to all in this line of work. Tim Peachey, States of Guernsey.
  • An excellent approach to learning which fits in very well with full-time work whilst retaining a work/life balance. Exceptional course delivery by Vivien in a comfortable learning environment. Very impressed - will continue to next module and recommend to others. Stephanie Waldron, Watford BC.
  • Having worked in enforcement for over 4 years, I went with a certain knowledge to the course. However, I was surprised how much I did not know! The information was relevant and the presentation easily understood. I entered the course with a little trepidation but left feeling encouraged and better informed. Justine Warner, Melton BC.
  • As I have only been an enforcement officer for 8 months, this was a good module to start with as I have been able to build on what I have learned. Carmel Driscoll, Mid Suffolk DC.

For further information or to reserve your place on the October/November 2014 module please contact Shelagh Pooley as soon as possible.

Also running in October/November is the module on Planning Enforcement and Operational Development (10-11 Oct & 27-28 Nov 2014). This module is provisionally fully booked at the moment but it is possible that some bookings may not be confirmed so if you are interested in attending please let Shelagh know and she will keep your name on the waiting list.

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Time to book post-election training for Councillors involved in planning?

Following the recent local elections, some authorities may now be considering the options for providing training in the planning system for re-elected and/or new members. As the UK's leading provider of practitioner-presented training for Councillors involved in planning, TRA has trained Councillors in more than 220 local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland.

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

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, rather than two. Due to the time restrictions a full case study cannot be used during a short session.



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 without obligation.

Demand is always very high in the period immediately after the elections however, due to our large team of experienced presenters, we should have no problem in accommodating new bookings for late June and July at this stage. We would highly recommend that you get in touch with Angela as soon as possible to discuss your preferred date(s).

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Workshops coming up in Scotland this Autumn

Our training workshop programme for Scotland got off to a flying start earlier this month with two popular workshops taking place in Edinburgh. Looking ahead to later in the programme, we have a batch of workshops (including one brand new one aimed at Planning Support Staff) coming up at the Novotel Hotel, Glasgow on 16 September 2014.

  • Negotiation Skills: the key to achieving planning goals and objectives (also in Manchester on 24 June)

    Almost every day, planning, enforcement and other 'environmental' staff within local planning authorities engage in some form of negotiation. Often these negotiations, whether they are with developers, agents, the public or even their colleagues, are carried out without any clear understanding of the principles and techniques involved. Yet having an awareness of both principles and techniques, coupled with experience, can make a formidable difference to an officer's effectiveness. This workshop focuses on persuasion and influencing skills; when to negotiate and when not to; approaches to negotiation; "tricks" and techniques; power and the personality dimensions. The workshop combines theories with working references from the experience of participants.
  • Harnessing the Potential of Support Staff: an essential step towards improved planning performance (NEW FOR 2014)

    Performance improvement is high on the agenda for all planning authorities, and Development Managers constantly need to be looking for ways to make their service both more effective and efficient, often with diminishing resources. One key staff resource that is often over-looked or under-utilised is the contribution that can be made by knowledgeable and well-trained technical and support staff. This brand new, practice-based workshop for key technical and support staff aims to help them develop their roles and responsibilities in crucial areas of development management by both increasing their knowledge-base and boosting their confidence in their abilities. It focuses on the practical issues of reading plans and validating applications, and determining publicity, notific ations and consultations for all the different types of planning as well as advertisement and listed building consent applications. It will employ a variety of techniques but the emphasis will be on working through practical examples. Group working will offer an opportunity to network and compare processes in other authorities.
  • Advertisement Control

    Advertisement control is an increasingly important yet often misunderstood part of the planning regime. The present Scottish Advertisement Regulations came into force in 1984 and have remained substantially unaltered. This workshop provides a clear insight into the complexities of the Regulations using real life examples at each stage. The workshop will be of benefit to development management, enforcement and support officers. Specific aspects covered include: what is an advertisement; advertisements not covered by the Regulations; deemed and express consents; Areas of Special Control; advertisement enforcement and flyposting.

Bookings can be made using the booking form available from the TRA website via the above links to the relevant event (or the discounted block booking form if you wish to book 2 or more places). Alternatively, places can be reserved provisionally by telephone on 01204 385678 or via the online provisional booking facility.

Please note the last few places are still up for grabs on the two workshops due to take place at Jurys Inn, Glasgow on 3 June 2014, however immediate booking is recommended to secure a place:

  • Current Issues in Planning Enforcement: essential CPD update - 1 place remaining
  • Managing the Planning Customer's Experience (NEW FOR 2014) - 5 places remaining
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East Herts prepare staff for giving evidence at Hearings and Inquiries

TRA was recently commissioned to prepare and deliver a bespoke training session for East Hertfordshire Council, and their neighbours, on Giving Evidence at Hearings and Inquiries.

The workshop ran over one day and was for the benefit of planners who are to be involved in preparing a case and supporting evidence for appeals that are to be decided by either a hearing or public inquiry.

The main aim of the training was to provide a basic understanding of what needs to be included in the written submissions and oral evidence, and help prepare those involved to be confident and comfortable as well as present a competent case.

The session was developed and delivered by TRA Senior Associate, Lee Prebble, and feedback from the participants was excellent:

  • Thorough, informative, detailed and well laid out. Comprehensive on all aspects to help deal with future appeal situations. I now feel I can confidently approach Hearings, but more specifically, Public Inquiries with templates and excellent guidance to give a more confident presentation of a case. Susie Defoe, East Hertfordshire DC
  • A good overview of the basics. Some anecdotes brought the examples to life. Philip Stanley, Dacorum BC
  • A good overview on participating in Hearings and Inquiries. Good delivery to keep content relevant and interesting. Sally Styles, Dacorum BC
  • The course was extremely helpful and informative. It gave a very comprehensive background/introduction to planning inquiries and Public Hearings. James Chattleburgh, Stevenage BC
  • A useful and thorough review on appeal procedures for Hearings and Inquiries. Michael Chalk, East Hertfordshire DC
  • Fully met my expectations - very thorough with useful tips. The presenter was clear and made it easy to understand. Simon Hoskin, Watford BC
  • Very detailed advice and great case studies/examples. Very knowledgeable presenter who was able to clearly answer questions and advise us on issues. Hazel Izod, East Hertfordshire DC.

This one day course is now widely available to all clients on an in-house basis; so if you would like more information, such as an outline programme, please contact Angela Holmes directly for a no obligation quotation.

For more information on all of the courses we can deliver relating to Public Inquiries, Hearings and Appeals, please visit our dedicated in-house webpage under the heading Appeals.

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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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