ENews Issue - 30 June 2014

ENews - June 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:

  • A Forum on Enforcement 2014 - advance details
  • Now format for Support Staff Conference proves popular
  • TRA introduce more new workshops to training programmes
  • Introducing a new workshop for Councillors in planning
  • The Yorkshire Dales NPA help their Planners to polish up their presenting skills




A Forum on Enforcement 2014 - advance details

Details are currently being put in place for this year's Forum on Enforcement which is to be held in Manchester on 2 October.

In its 30th anniversary year TRA is very proud to be able say that it has always recognised enforcement as a vital and very complex part of the planning process. Over the years, we have been at the forefront of providing a range of training and education opportunities for enforcement officers, legal and planning staff, and anyone from the private sector with a specific interest in planning enforcement. One of the mainstays in our annual programme has been the Enforcement Forum which aims to provide excellent CPD and a valuable opportunity to meet and exchange views and experiences with a wide spectrum of practitioners.

Full details will be published on the TRA website and circulated to our mailing contacts once they have been finalised, but for now here is a taster of what you can expect at this year's event.

As enforcement can become particularly litigious it is important we all keep up to date with recent case law and so the day will start with a Legal Update given by solicitor David Hainsworth LLB, FRSA who has worked in both the public and private sectors and over the years has dealt with several hundred planning enforcement cases in various capacities.

There will then be an opportunity to choose two of the three parallel workshops:

Deliberate Concealment

Charles Allingham: Principal Planning Enforcement Officer, Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council

Dealing with Heritage Crime

Ian Marshall: Director, Environment and Heritage Solutions

Proceeds of Crime Act in practice

Speaker to be confirmed



The final plenary session will be given by David Armstrong a fairly regular and very popular speaker at the Forum. This year he is going to talk about Using the Anti Social Behaviour Act 2014 for dealing with common planning nuisance and enforcement problems.

The Forum will be chaired by Mike Hyde, Planning Consultant and TRA Associate.

Places can be provisionally reserved right now by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

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Now format for Support Staff Conference proves popular

The annual TRA Conference for Support Staff took place in London on the 19 June. It was again well attended with over 50 delegates from a range of local planning authorities from as far afield as Gloucestershire and Lincolnshire.



In a change to the previous format, the day revolved around two longer sessions offering detailed discussion on 'key changes to legislation' and 'customer care' and was topped off with a final presentation looking at some practice issues and pitfalls for support staff, particularly around the National Planning Practice Guidance.



In the session on legislative changes, Vivien Green gave delegates an opportunity to consider some of the key changes that have recently been introduced - or will shortly be introduced - and the implications these will have for support staff. As always, Vivien provided lots of useful information and analysis which gave delegates plenty of food for thought on how t he changes are affecting planning overall and the day-to-day work of support staff. As well as looking at the changes in primary legislation the session looked at issues around permitted development and the increasing use of the prior notification procedure.



Elsewhere, Lee Prebble explored some customer care issues in a session sub-titled 'the art of the possible'. It was an opportunity to revisit some of the different approaches to customer care and communication with a view to achieving positive outcomes. Lee took delegates through a range of approaches and issues in dealing with people face-to-face as well as on the telephone and in writing. And, of course, no session on customer care is complete without looking at some of the 'deadly sins' that are all too easy to commit.



A short Q&A session followed giving delegates the chance to raise any questions from either of the earlier sessions or more generally on the work of support staff. The day then finished with a look at some of the practice issues support staff face, particularly in using the new NPPG. The session highlighted a number of discrepancies and potential pitfalls between the NPPG and actual legislation, including some key omissions in the guidance. Viven Green also provided delegates with some useful reminders about local validation requirements and a look at what's likely to be next on the planning reform conveyor belt.



In a day that was quite intensive at times, the conference offered plenty of opportunity for interaction and discussion with the speakers and, equally importantly, with colleagues from other authorities. As always, this provided plenty of insight into how other authorities are doing things and how they are adapting (or not!) to the new challenges.

Comments from some of the delegates included:

  • "Legislation update useful and informative. Able to take some changes back to my LPA that have not been flagged up by officers. Many of the issues raised by other participants were common - good to know that we are all facing the same challenges" Sue Ludwig, Borough of Poole
  • "New guidance and legislation was interesting and informative. Customer care was a good reminder of how you can make the client feel. It was very interesting how different LPA's operate from the first point of contact, the availablility of Planning Officers and the actual technology used" Lynne Knight, Basildon Borough Council
  • "Knowledgeable, professional speakers in a relaxed atmosphere" Elizabeth Goode, St Albans District Council

We are keen to ensure that the conference covers topics of interest and relevance to support staff so if there are any topics that you'd like us to consider including in next year's event then please feel free to email us with your ideas and suggestions at promotion@tra-ltd.co.uk

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TRA introduce more new workshops to training programmes

As mentioned in previous issues of Enews, we have introduced a number of new workshops into the TRA Training Programmes recently to keep them fresh and topical. There are a couple more coming up this Autumn in our England & Wales programme which may be of interest to you or colleagues within your department. Both of these workshops will take place at our London venue, The Wesley.

Avoiding Cost Awards at Appeal - 23 September 2014

There is an increasing tendency for both appellants and Councils to make an application for costs on appeal. An award of costs against you is unwelcome at the best of times, and particularly in these days of limited resources, but they can be avoided through good practice. By examining a variety of scenarios, this workshop analyses each stage from receipt of an application through to appeal (by Written Representation, Hearing or Public Inquiry), including Committee decisions. It considers what measures can be put in place to minimise the risks of a successful costs claims against you and in what circumstances you should pursue an application for costs against the other party. The workshop is appropriate for all those involved in Development Management, including both Council officers and planning advisors to appell ants and third parties.

The workshop was introduced last year and is presented by Sue Glover, a freelance Chartered Town Planner who has worked extensively in the private and public sectors. As a Senior Associate of TRA, Sue has worked throughout England, Wales and Scotland presenting workshops for Councillors and Officers and undertaking procedural reviews of development management processes.

Comments of participants who attended last year's workshop include:

  • "Really helpful. More so because of the small group so there was plenty of discussion. Use of case studies very helpful" Jennifer Rehman, Lancaster City Council
  • "It was useful having a small group as we could draw on each others experiences" Martha Savage, Flintshire County Council

Basic Tree Hazard Assessment and Tree Preservation Orders - 21 October 2014

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 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.

This workshop is brand new for 2014 and is presented by Paul Allen, Planning and Development Manager with environmental consultancy Marishal Thompson. Paul has undertaken many thousands of tree surveys and inspections, written Tree Hazard Risk Assessments and policies, and provided advice to large public and private estates in respect of their tree hazard management.

Comments of participants who attended this workshop in Scotland earlier this year include:

  • "Very informative and engaging presentation. Outlined and clarified some issues which will be helpful in my work" Neil McAteer, North Ayrshire Council
  • "Information was good and useful" Emma Williams, Aberdeenshire Council

Further information and booking forms are available on the TRA website via the above links to the relevant workshop. If you are interested in attending but are unable to make a firm booking straight away, places can be reserved provisionally by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

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Introducing a new workshop for Councillors in planning

TRA is the UK's leading provider of practitioner-presented training and this year sees the 20th anniversary of delivering in-house training for elected Members. During this time TRA has successfully delivered in-house training sessions for thousands of Councillors in over 220 authorities across England, Wales and Scotland; view a full list of clients in England/Wales and Scotland.

We understand that training needs and the resources available for training (both in terms of time and money) vary between authorities and so we are keen to offer a variety of formats to make our training accessible to all. As well as our popular 'tried and tested' one-day sessions for Councillors (A Briefing on Planning and The Role of Councillors in Planning) TRA is now able to offer a NEW one-day session combining elements of BOTH of these workshops giving Members a broader view of the basics of planning and their role within it. The training is presented in an interactive "workshop" format by one member of our presenting team and in line with our overall approach to training, includes as much practical work and discussion as possible.

Both Rushmoor Borough Council and Cambridge City Council recently took this approach and both sessions were delivered by TRA presenter, Jed Griffiths, resulting in excellent feedback:

  • Gave me a good insight on how decision making affects Ward Councillors, what their roles are, how they have to conduct themselves and the procedures they have to follow. The presentation was well presented with a good sense of humour throughout. Very clear and precise. Wendy Betteridge, Rushmoor BC
  • The presenter made the course enjoyable. I would appreciate more training that may help me as a Councillor. Clive Grattan, Rushmoor BC
  • Covered a wide range of subjects all of which were relevant for Members engaged in planning. Roland Dibbs, Rushmoor BC
  • A broad coverage of present planning policies and procedures was given effectively with a well balanced and important emphasis on probity in the planning process. Kevin Blencowe, Cambridge CC
  • A good level of detail and sign-posting to sources of information etc. The presenter was clearly highly experienced and this came through very well and is very reassuring for new Councillors. Nick Auciy, Cambridge CC
  • Very informative, especially with reference to various websites that might assist in the future. Information was explained in plain language and the use of past cases was very helpful. The presenter delivered the training with an element of humour (always a good tool in learning). Nigel Gawthrope, Cambridge CC.

Where time constraints are particularly tight, we can also offer shorter training sessions (usually 3 hours) in either a morning, afternoon or evening to suit an authority's requirements. This can be the perfect solution if a one-day workshop is not a viable option. The half-day sessions are essentially shortened down versions of the one-day Briefing and Role workshops and therefore some elements are necessarily condensed to accommodate the time available. The shorter workshops are delivered by one member of our experienced presenting team and do not include case studies/exercises due to the limited time available.

So now there are even more options for organising training for your members in planning:

  • A one-day Briefing on Planning or Role of Councillors session, delivered by two presenters (providing a wealth of experience) using a full-case study to help reinforce key areas
  • A one-day combined Briefing on Planning and Role of Councillors session, delivered by one presenter using a condensed case study and short exercises to help highlight key points
  • A shorter half-day session (3 hours) on either the Briefing on Planning OR the Role of Councillors, delivered by one presenter (please note that due to time constraints a case study and/or exercises cannot be used).

To see more information on the training we can deliver for Members, please visit the Councillor page on our website which answers the most frequently asked questions.

To receive a quotation or to obtain further information about a particular session, such as an outline programme, please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes. Please note that the prices we quote are 'all-in' and so include all of our fees, presenter expenses and pre-course/course material, so there are no hidden extras and our clients are aware of what they can expect to pay at invoicing stage.

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The Yorkshire Dales NPA help their Planners to polish up their presenting skills

Planners, and particularly middle-tier managers, often find themselves thrust into the spotlight by having to make presentations to Planning Committees, Area Committees, pressure groups, other stakeholders etc. These presentations often represent "make or break" occasions and how they go can have a significant impact on the quality of the outcome being sought. However, it is still unusual to find that those presenting have had any formal training in presentation skills.

It is with this in mind that TRA were recently commissioned to deliver an in-house training workshop on behalf of the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority and staff from neighbouring authorities, entitled Presentation Skills for Planners.

This interactive workshop helped to raise participants' awareness of their own strengths and weaknesses and provided some tried and tested tips and techniques to help them get their message across.

The session was developed and delivered by TRA Presenter, Chris Weetman, and the feedback from the participants was excellent:

  • Was really pleased that the session was tailored to planning/committee situations as this type of presentation is different to very general ones. It was good that the presenter had a planning background. Andrea Burden, Yorkshire Dales NPA
  • It was refreshing to attend a workshop where I actually felt that I was learning and that the presenter wanted to inform, advise and educate me rather than the usual workshops run by other organisations where there is a definite sense that I am being preached to or that the speaker has a particular agenda or is even sometimes promoting themselves. Once again this TRA course exceeded my expectations and presents a well presented, informative, interesting and frankly excellent workshop where I have come away feeling that I have actually gained from the day and am all the better for it. Simon Chapman, Yorkshire Dales NPA
  • I felt it was highly tailored to meet our needs and was specific to planning. Putting me on the spot was definitely good practice for speaking in public in a 'safe' environment. Katherine Wood, Yorkshire Dales NPA
  • I learnt a lot from doing the presentation and getting feedback. The workshop introduced methods and ideas not previously considered which I will hopefully work at and take into the future. The relaxed atmosphere was also good making it a safe environment to make mistakes with an approachable course leader. Nicola Dinsdal, Yorkshire Dales NPA
  • Good, interesting and involving presentations, providing useful tips and techniques to improve presentation styles. It was particularly useful that the course presenter was himself an experienced planner with direct knowledge of the subject as a specialist. R. Bissicks, Yorkshire Dales NPA
  • The workshop achieved a good balance of practical and theoretical elements. It provided a good range of helpful hints and tips to consider when preparing presentations together with advice in relation to coping with various situations that may arise during the delivery of presentations. Helen Webster, North York Moors NPA

If you would like to receive more information on this course, such as an outline programme, then please contact Angela Holmes who can provide you with a detailed quotation.

Please remember that the prices we quote are 'all-in' so there are no hidden extras and our clients are aware from the outset what they can expect to pay at the invoicing stage.

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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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