ENews Issue - 23 October 2014

ENews - October 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:

  • First CIL Examination for TRA
  • Is your customer care up to scratch?
  • Visit our new Planning Jobs Board - it could change your life!
  • Melton Councillors receive tailored training on good Committee practice and avoiding costs
  • Workshop on Enforcement of Listed Building Control
  • Another great Enforcement Forum
  • Follow us on Twitter




First CIL Examination for TRA

It's taken a while to get the message out there that CIL Charging Schedules don't necessarily have to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination... But the first Schedule submitted to TRA is now undergoing examination and a Public Hearing has been arranged for 11 November 2014.

The Camden CIL Schedule was submitted to TRA on 28 August 2014 and has been allocated to experienced Examiner Terry Kemmann_Lane.

Visit our CIL Examinations page for further information on this service. You can also contact Penny O'Shea to find out more, including likely costs, without obligation.

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Is your customer care up to scratch?

In an increasingly demanding world where users expect a quality service at minimum cost, the provision of a quality customer-orientated service can go a long way to achieving the quality outcomes that an Authority strives to achieve. Whether as part of the Development Plan or Development Management process - understanding who your customers are and how their needs might be met is an often overlooked element of the job. Traditionally, many authorities have either taken little account of their customers' needs or gone too far in acceding to their demands. Finding that ideal centre position where the customer's reasonable expectations are met is a difficult goal.

TRA's one-day interactive workshop Managing the Planning Customer's Experience provides planners with an understanding of why customer care matters more than ever before, and how to deliver good customer care at little or no extra cost in terms of time and money.

Topics covered include:

  • What is good customer care in planning?
  • Why customer care matters
  • Listening skills
  • How to communicate clearly
  • How to handle planning complaints
  • The use of technology in customer care
  • Dealing with internal customers and partners.

This workshop is part of a series of in-house sessions that has been developed by TRA presenter, Chris Weetman, and techniques used include short presentations by Chris, complemented by group work and discussion sessions.

Feedback from previous participants of this workshop has been excellent:

  • I found the workshop very interesting. The practical exercises punctuated the presentation well. Evelyn Ann Wilson, South Lanarkshire Council
  • The workshop case studies and anecdotes worked very well. Stephen Fair, Argyll and Bute Council
  • Really good to focus on customer care for planning and hearing experiences from Chris. Lesley Cuthbertson, Argyll and Bute Council
  • Good refresher and thought provoking. I'll be amending the response to a complaint that I wrote on the train here! Sarah Iles, East Sussex County Council
  • It was a very stimulating and insightful workshop and the use of case studies was very helpful. Aidan Gardner, Mole Valley District Council
  • Good mix of workshop and lecture. Case studies help to explore areas covered. Rob Morgan, Three Rivers District Council.

If you would like more information on this workshop, or any of the workshops in the Management and Personal Development series, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela who will be happy to provide you with a no-commitment quotation. The prices that we quote are fully inclusive of fees, presenter expenses and pre-course/course material, so there are no hidden extras and the client knows from the outset what they can expect to pay at invoicing stage.

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Visit our new Planning Jobs Board - it could change your life!

This Monday saw the launch of the new TRA Planning Jobs Board. We've been really encouraged by the initial response and hope this new service will prove very popular.

Authorities advertising with us so far stretch from Aberdeen to Spelthorne and vacancies cover roles in development managent, neighbourhood planning, enforcement, conservation and design. Take a look now....and re-visit regularly for more vacancies.

The Planning Jobs Board is entirely free for both advertisers and those looking for a new role. If you would like to advertise your vacancy, there's a 1-page pdf which gives the basic details, and you can contact Penny O'Shea to arrange your advert.

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Melton Councillors receive tailored training on good Committee practice and avoiding costs

TRA was recently commissioned by Melton Borough Council to deliver two bespoke half-day training sessions for their Councillors.

The first session 'Good practice for Planning/Development Management Committees' was developed and delivered by TRA presenter, Lee Prebble.

Although the vast majority of planning decisions are taken by officers acting on behalf of the Council under a formal delegation scheme some decisions, often the more controversial ones, are taken by the Planning/Development Management Committee. The way in which this Committee operates is highly sensitive, since even quite minor procedural deficiencies can raise the possibility of the legitimacy of decisions being challenged. Committee procedures vary widely and in many cases are not subject to clear rules.

The workshop aims to improve practice by:

  • reviewing and improving some of the procedures and practices of the Planning Committee
  • assisting participants in the roles at the Planning Committee, so that they can act with confidence based on an awareness of what is required
  • encouraging participants to question their procedures where appropriate and to suggest/implement changes.

Participant feedback from the session was excellent:

  • Very well delivered, clear and well led
  • I enjoyed it, very interesting and informative. Everyone had a chance to participate
  • This training was enjoyable and informative. Excellent!
  • Very informative with stimulating presentation and discussion
  • The presenter coped very well with our questions.

The second session was based on a NEW inter-authority TRA workshop 'Avoiding Cost Awards' which was developed and delivered by TRA presenter, Sue Glover.

The workshop explored best practice measures to help try and minimise costs awards against LPAs at appeal, even in sometimes difficult circumstances. It took into account the particular planning policy context of Melton BC, and considered similar examples and practice elsewhere.

The session demonstrated, at a time of significant resource constraints and with more costs applications being made, that it is possible to put into place measures to minimise the risk of a successful costs claim against an authority. It specifically covered:

  • The background to the costs advice set out in this year's (2014) new national planning practice guidance and the changes from the now cancelled Circular 03/2009
  • What constitutes Unreasonable Behaviour for costs claims? With particular reference to matters affecting Councillors using examples of both "substantive" and "procedural" reasons for costs awards, covering committee decisions, reasons for refusal and the supporting evidence, the role of expert/technical advice, and other material considerations such as extant permissions and permitted development
  • Useful tips and information to implement best practice procedures to avoid costs claims, and how to defend costs claims if they are made.

Once again, participant feedback was very encouraging:

  • Exceeded my expectations, it helps to know that we are getting things right!
  • Very much met my expectations. Endorsed some of the things I knew already and expanded that knowledge greatly, thank you!

If your authority has any specific training requirements for Councillors or you would be interested in receiving more information on the above mentioned workshops, please contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

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Workshop on Enforcement of Listed Building Control

After a successful 30th Anniversary year, the TRA Training Programme for 2014 will end with a group of workshops taking place at our Manchester venue on 18 November 2014.

One of these workshops, recently introduced to the TRA programme, has proved particularly popular but there are still a number of places remaining on its forthcoming outing:

Enforcement of Listed Building Control - will provide a valuable introduction or essential CPD for enforcement officers who investigate and deal with breaches of Listed Building Control and complements our existing workshops on the "Basics" and the "Core Elements" of Planning Enforcement. It is suitable for planning and conservation officers who may get drawn into dealing with breaches of listed building control, managers who may have to authorise taking enforcement action or lawyers who have to draft notices or consider prosecutions. The workshop will look at the legislative framework (including relevant provisions of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act), the pros and cons of using particular procedures, and current best practice. Topics covered during the day will include: what is listed, defining the curtilage, what constitutes a breach of listed building control, investigations and use of statutory notices to obtain information, when to caution, using enforcement tools, appeals, whether to "prosecute (s9 and s43), what has to be proven/statutory defences and the use being made of POCA. Reference will be made throughout to relevant case law.

Further details including a downloadable leaflet and booking form can be found on the TRA website. 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.

Don't forget, discounts are available when booking 2 or more places at the same time (over any number of events) via our discounted block booking system - details of this are also on the website.

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Another great Enforcement Forum

TRA has always recognised that the integrity of the entire planning system depends on effective enforcement and our annual Forum on Enforcement provides valuable CPD for the wide range of people involved in enforcement work. It also offers the opportunity, particularly during the parallel workshop sessions and over lunch and coffee breaks, for practitioners to exchange ideas, discuss enforcement issues and meet colleagues.

As always, we were very pleased that this year's Forum on Enforcement was well attended, with some people travelling considerable distances to get there. For those of you who were not able to attend, here's what you missed ...

The opening plenary session was delivered by David Hainsworth, Solicitor and Planning Inspector, who provided a legal update on a number of recent cases with relevance to planning enforcement. These included cases relating to when and how to enforce, the application of the 4 and 10 year time limits, material changes of use and 'positive deception'. David's session was well received, and spot on for those of us who never seem to be able to find the time to read the Journal of Planning and Environmental Law every month!

Delegates then had the choice of attending two out of three parallel sessions:

  • Charles Allingham, Principal Planning Enforcement Officer with Welwyn Hatfield BC, spoke about the topical issue of Deliberate Concealment with reference to the decision in the Beesley case. Charles concluded by illustrating the relevance of this with reference to one of his current cases.
  • Ian Marshall, Director at Environment and Heritage Solutions, talked about Dealing Effectively with Heritage Crime. Given the sheer scale of the issue (c75,000 heritage crimes were committed in 2011), Ian identified the many 'players' involved in the protection of heritage assets, and suggested ways in which they could work better together.
  • Tim Rolt, Planning Enforcement Manager with the London Borough of Brent looked at the Proceeds of Crime Act. Brent have a significant number of unauthorised flat conversions to deal with and Tim explained how POCA had been used by his Authority since 2011 to successfully bring in over £800,000 in payments!

To end the day David Armstrong, Solicitor, Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist, gave another of his lively and amusing sessions, this time looking at the provisions contained in the new Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (or the 'Gits Act' as he succinctly put it!). This new piece of legislation contains a number of provisions that could assist in the resolution of planning enforcement issues including, for example, the 'Public Spaces Protection Order', aka the Super Section 215 Notice.

This year's Forum was chaired by Mike Hyde, Planning Consultant and TRA Associate. In his introduction he reflected on his feeling that whilst the enforcement issues had not significantly changed since he first attended the Forum in 1999, the context in which planning enforcement operates, and the profile that the service now has, had changed fundamentally; Cinderella had finally made it to the ball!

  • Good range of relevant topics, which was the attraction in the first place. John Baggott, Wyre Forest DC
  • The quality of the speakers was excellent this year. A really informative and enjoyable day. Christine James, North West Leicestershire DC

Mike will be organising the programme for the Forum in 2015 and would welcome any ideas or suggestions with regard to format, subject matter etc. Please email any thoughts on this to Penny O'Shea. Alternatively, you could 'tweet' your thoughts to us at @TRA_Limited. The date for the 2015 Forum with be announced shortly.

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Follow us on Twitter

We've just set up the new TRA Twitter feed @TRA_Limited and we'd love you to follow us - and encourage your colleagues to do the same. You'll be able to keep up-to-date with regular TRA news, behind the scenes info and special offers.

We're offering an incentive to those who get on board early - at the end of December we'll enter all our followers into a draw to win a free place at one of our 2015 workshop or conference events (the details of the 2015 programme will be available soon).

So why not follow us now on Twitter @TRA_Limited or just use the Follow Us link at the top right of our website.

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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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