ENews Issue - 31 July 2014

ENews - July 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:

  • CIL Examination service - TRA offers an alternative to PINs
  • TRA temporary office move
  • Upcoming training opportunities for Planning Support & Administrative Staff
  • Forum on Enforcement - grab your place while you can
  • In-house training for Councillors on specific aspects of planning
  • Western Isles Council - getting the most out of training for Members and Officers




CIL Examination service - TRA offers an alternative to PINs

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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TRA temporary office move

To allow our offices to be refurbished we will be temporarily relocating within the next month to another office on the same development. We have appropriate plans in place and are hopeful that any disruption will be kept to a minimum but we just wanted to forewarn our contacts just in case.

At this point, we expect to be moving on the 21st and 22nd August (the Thursday and Friday before the Bank Holiday). We will keep everyone up-to-date via our website. All our contact details will remain the same - including our postal address and telephone number - so hopefully you won't be able to tell the difference!

However, if you do experience any problems or are concerned that your communication may not be getting through to us please do try to get in touch to check - telephone is likely to be the most reliable method.

We expect to be in our temporary office for 3-5 weeks.

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Upcoming training opportunities for Planning Support & Administrative Staff

TRA has always recognised the valuable role support and administrative staff play in any planning department, and offers a number of training services to help enhance their knowledge and skills and thereby improve the contribution these vital team members can make.

As well as our Planning Admin Network and annual Conference for Planning Support Staff, our interactive one day workshops are also very popular with some excellent feedback from past participants. Listed below are some of the workshops coming up this Autumn which would be of benefit to support and administrative staff in both the public and private sectors:

  • Managing the Planning Customer's Experience (NEW FOR 2014) - 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 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. There are many courses on customer car e 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.



    "Really good to focus on customer care for planning and hearing experiences from the presenter"
    Lesley Cuthbertson, Argyll and Bute Council
  • Permitted Development - London, 21 October 2014

    This workshop is suitable for all staff (including support staff, technicians, enforcement and planning officers), who have to deal with enquiries about Permitted Development. This ever-relevant and popular workshop looks at how PD works, provides some crucial definitions and help in interpreting and applying the most frequently used classes of permitted development. Its aim is to help participants develop the knowledge and confidence essential in dealing with this complex aspect of the planning process. The workshop will provide a useful opportunity to look in detail at Householder PD, minor development and other sorts of enquiries; how PD enquiries are handled; how the Prior Notification procedure works and how applications should be processed; and any further proposals from Government to change the PD regime. Crucially, it will provide an opportunity for delegates to ask any questions about PD.



    "Provided very full information and useful handouts. The presenter was very knowledgeable and gave good, clear information, facts and advice"
    Steph Blunt, North Hertfordshire District Council
  • The Basics of Planning - Manchester, 18 November 2014 (and Edinburgh, 6 November 2014)

    This practical workshop is designed as an introduction to the planning process for enforcement, administrative and technical staff in LPAs and support staff working in private practices. As well as providing an introduction to anyone who is new to planning, it will also be relevant for experienced staff who want to set their job in the wider context of development management. The workshop deals with the key elements of plan-making, processing planning, listed building and other applications, and monitoring and enforcement against unauthorised development. It incorporates group exercises and case studies where appropriate and provides participants with a valuable opportunity to meet and share experiences with colleagues from other authorities and other parts of the planning p rocess.



    "It was very comprehensive and well delivered, easy to follow and very relevant"
    Jill Sampson, Blaby District Council

Further details, including more feedback from previous delegates and booking forms for each event, are available on the TRA website via the above links to the relevant workshop. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away for a workshop you are interested in, provisional bookings are recommended and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

Discounts are available to those booking 2 or more places via our Discounted Block Booking Scheme - further details are also on the website.

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Forum on Enforcement - grab your place while you can

This year's Forum on Enforcement will take place at our Manchester venue on Thursday 2 October. Early booking is particularly brisk and we are expecting it to be a popular programme so we'd suggest reserving your place as soon as possible.

Full details and a booking form can be found on our website.

The day will start with a Legal Update (always a popular session) 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 be three parallel sessions from which you can choose to attend two:

  • Deliberate Concealment - Charles Allingham, Principal Planning Enforcement Officer, Welwyn Hatfield BC.

    Welwyn Hatfield broke new ground when they challenged the Secretary of State's decision on the Beesley case (dwellinghouse built to look like a barn) all the way to the Supreme Court and won. Charles will look at the range of options that the authority are now using for dealing with current cases of deliberate concealment, including invoking the Connor Principle, its effect on the ground (d) appeal and the planning enforcement order.
  • Dealing with Heritage Crime - Ian Marshall, Director, Environment and Heritage Solutions

    What is your Council doing to prevent and deal with heritage crime? How can it make the best use of scarce resources? Is it signed up to ARCH (Association to Reduce Crime against Heritage)? With his wealth of experience in local government and in co-ordinating a Heritage Crime Partnership, Ian will look at the ways in which you can help to prevent, and when necessary deal effectively with, heritage crime.
  • Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) in practice - Tim Rolt, Planning Enforcement Manager, London Borough of Brent

    Most enforcement practitioners are now familiar with the concept that POCA can be considered, following a successful prosecution, to confiscate the proceeds of a "planning crime". However, practical experience of using the power stills seems to be limited. The Planning Enforcement team in the London Borough of Brent, however, has had quite a lot of success in confiscating the proceeds of the crime and Tim will talk about their processes and experiences.

The final plenary session will be deliverd by Barrister David Armstrong from Mallard consultancy which is a member of the Unique Places Network, an association of acknowledged experts in the management of public sector regulation and the public realm. He is also a consultant and adviser to many public agencies including Keep Britain Tidy, Tidy Northern Irealnd and Keep Wales Tidy and has regularly advised local authorities in many forms of regulation and enforcement. He is therefore well placed to talk about using the recently enacted Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (many provisions of which also cover Wales) for dealing with common planning nuisance and enforcement problems.

The Forum will be chaired by Mike Hyde, Planning Consultant who delivers training on enforcement for TRA.

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In-house training for Councillors on specific aspects of planning

Our Councillor trainers have recently been extremely busy due to post-election demand. It may be that your authority may not have had elections, or there could be a specific topic that you feel your Members might benefit from receiving training on; if this is the case, TRA can help.



Even if this kind of training has traditionally been delivered by your own officers, it is certainly worth considering an external training session provided by TRA.

We are able to conduct detailed sessions on specific aspects of planning, mainly half-day "modules" with a single presenter. Topics include specialist aspects of planning and updates on policy, procedure and good practice. Some of the topics we currently offer are:

  • a briefing on the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF)
  • a briefing on Neighbourhood Planning (NEW)
  • good practice for DM/planning Committees (NEW)
  • planning enforcement
  • advertisement control
  • planning appeals: the Councillor dimension
  • avoiding costs awards at appeal (NEW)
  • planning obligations and planning conditions
  • trees and the planning process (NEW).

These sessions are delivered by our experienced team of presenters, all of whom are planning practitioners, as opposed to academics.

This is just a small selection of the sessions that we can run; a full list can be found on our website. If required we are also happy to consider designing bespoke sessions, or tailoring an existing programme to suit an individual client's needs - please do not hesitate to ask if you have any specific requirements.

If you would like to see more information on a particular in-house training session, including an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes directly, for a no-obligation quotation. The prices we quote are "all in" and therefore include all of our fees, presenters expenses and pre-course/course documentation, this means that there are no hidden extras and our clients are aware what they can expect to pay at the outset.

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Western Isles Council - getting the most out of training for Members and Officers

Here at TRA we have been on our travels again, this time to the Western Isles having been commissioned by the Council (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar) to deliver a short bespoke training session for their members. In addition, they also decided to utilise the presenter's time in Stornoway to their advantage by organising a second half day course for their officers on Report Writing Skills.

The first part of the day was devoted to the officers and the Report Writing session. The main objectives of the session were to:

  • provide a refresher on "material considerations" and an opportunity to discuss any grey areas (whether for officers, elected members or the wider public)
  • suggest guidance on what Councillors need from officers (and maybe what they don't)
  • give advice on what to include in reports and what can safely be left out (and why)
  • show how a good report (whether for Committee or delegated) can greatly simplify the handling of straightforward appeals
  • give an insight into what Reporters are looking for, and the way they currently approach "written reps" cases
  • take a brief look at some recent appeal decisions.

In the afternoon the focus was on the Members with an opportunity for participants to discuss current issues in relation to the determination of planning applications. The training covered:

  • the purpose of the planning system in Scotland and the role of councillors within it
  • engagement with the public (including prospective developers)
  • the key factors to be borne in mind when making decisions (including a refresher on what is - and what is not - a "material consideration" in planning matters)
  • committee overturns and
  • the principles of the appeal system.

Both sessions were prepared and delivered by TRA Senior Associate, David Kaiserman, and feedback from the training was encouraging:

Development Management workshop for Members

  • I really enjoyed it! Uisdean Robertson
  • Very informative. Neil MacDonald Beaton
  • Excellent workshop. Norman Macdonald

Report Writing for Officers

  • Informative, good presentation style and context. Gave food for thought with good learning points. Thank you - I hope you can come back again sometime! Morag Ferguson
  • Very useful and informative. I learned a lot and I will use some of the material in my planning course assignment. A very down to earth and practical approach. Susan Ratie
  • Very good. Sensible recommendations for layout and actually required information within reports. Mary Davidson
  • Really clear and concise. Very interactive and not patronising. Helen MacDonald.

This approach to delivering training, by offering two half day workshops for different audiences, can work out to be very cost effective but it does depend on the 'specialism' of the presenter involved. If you think that your authority would benefit from having training delivered in this way please get in touch with Angela Holmes to discuss the options available.

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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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