ENews Issue - 30 October 2015

ENews - October 2015

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:

  • Happy 1st birthday TRA Jobs Board!
  • Last chance to book on 2015 workshops
  • Follow TRA on Twitter
  • Surrey planners polish up their presenting skills
  • Annual Forum on Enforcement still going strong
  • Turners Hill Neighbourhood Plan submitted to TRA for examination
  • Focused training for Councillors on specific aspects of planning




Happy 1st birthday TRA Jobs Board!

The TRA Planning Jobs Board celebrated it's first birthday earlier this month and we are very pleased with the response received so far. We posted 470 job adverts during the year covering a good mix of roles across development management and enforcement, planning policy and planning support.

Advertising on our Jobs Board is entirely free to local authorities handling their own recruitment (unfortunately we can't offer it to recruitment agencies). If you would like to advertise a vacancy you can download our 1-page pdf which provides more information. Alternatively, you can simply send your text and the authority's logo to jobsboard@tra-ltd.co.uk. The Jobs Board is fully managed by TRA's staff in Bolton to ensure that the whole process of advertising is as quick and hassle-free as possible.

It is also free to search for those looking for a new opportunity. So if you are in the market for a new challenge, visit TRA's Planning Jobs Board regularly. Here are some of the current vacancies being advertised, with closing dates in November:

  • Principal Planning Policy Officer - Cotswold DC
  • Principal Planning Officer (Policy) - Spelthorne BC
  • Senior Planning Officer (Policy) - Spelthorne BC
  • Senior Planning Officer - Malvern Hills DC
  • Senior Planning & Enforcement Officer - Suffolk Coastal & Waveney DCs
  • Area Planning & Enforcement Officer - Suffolk Coastal & Waveney DCs
  • Senior Planning Officer - Reigate & Banstead BC
  • Senior Planner (Projects) - Welwyn Hatfield BC
  • Planning Policy Officer (x2) - Nuneaton & Bedworth BC

And please - if you do apply for one of these vacancies we'd be really grateful if you could mention that you saw it on the TRA Planning Jobs Board (most application forms ask this question).

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Last chance to book on 2015 workshops

After another successful year, TRA's Training Workshop Programme for England/Wales will come to a close with the final four workshops taking place during November. One of the workshops - 'Use of Conditions: necessary, precise and enforceable', which is brand new for 2015, is already fully booked and has been for some time. However, there are places still remaining on the other three workshops :

  • Engaging with Local Communities in Neighbourhood Plan Preparation (NEW) - London, 12 November 2015

    As neighbourhood planning becomes an established part of the plan-making environment, planning professionals will increasingly need to draw on a wider range of skills to perform effectively. This new one-day interactive workshop provides planners and community engagement staff with an understanding of how best to work jointly and positively with neighbourhood planning groups and within ever-challenging local authority budgets. It explores the issues and challenges faced by those preparing neighbourhood plans and the ways in which local authority planners can provide support. It looks at how this support can assist in community engagement, preparing a plan that meets the basic conditions and can successfully withstand independent examination. It al so looks into the challenges of the neighbourhood planning agenda in development management and how to ensure ongoing community involvement in the planning process. Crucially, the workshop is delivered by a practitioner with significant experience of the neighbourhood planning agenda both within a local authority environment and as an Independent Examiner.
  • Planning Enforcement in Practice: the core elements in detail - Manchester, 24 November 2015

    This workshop will be best suited to those who already have at least some experience of enforcement either as enforcement officers, planning officers or lawyers. For anyone who has previously attended our popular Basics of Planning Enforcement workshop this session would be an ideal 'next step'. The workshop focuses on the nuts and bolts of handling enforcement complaints: getting information to assess a breach; drafting a report on expediency; and considering the use of an enforcement notice. There will be an opportunity to look at what went wrong with some real notices and whether they could be rectified on appeal. Where appropriate, the workshop will also include an update on any government proposals affecting enforcement.
  • Managing the Planning Customer's Experience - Manchester, 24 November 2015

    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 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. There are many courses on customer ca re 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.

Further details for each workshop and booking forms can be found on the TRA website via the above links. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, places can be reserved provisionally either over the phone or via the provisional bookings page on the website. There is still time to take advantage of our popular block booking system to receive up to 15% discount when booking 2 or more places at the same time over any of these events.

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Follow TRA on Twitter

We recently launched 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.

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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Surrey planners 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 Surrey County Council on 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:

  • Carrying out the presentation exercise and getting feedback was very useful, and the tips given will be taken on board. Nicola Downes
  • It reaffirmed what I was doing well was correct and taught me different/better ways of doing other things. Would definitely recommend. Good levels of interaction too! James Nolan
  • I felt it was very useful and learnt a few very helpful tips to take with me to my next presentation. Although I was initially dreading the 3 minute presentation, I think it is a very useful exercise. It was good to get feedback, both positive and negative as usually people avoid the negative points. It was also good to see how others dealt with presenting. Kirsty Wilkinson
  • It was good to present and get feedback from Chris. There were some really good tips for presenting and the examples / case studies from Chris's own experience of presenting at committees/presentations were really worthwhile. William Flaherty
  • Very friendly, engaging and used good, relevant real-world examples in the content of his presentation. Dustin Lees
  • Very good range of content supplemented by lots of useful examples. Feedback from presentations very relevant and helpful. A very useful refresher on presentation skills with very helpful slides to take away. David Maxwell.

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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Annual Forum on Enforcement still going strong

TRA's long-standing annual Forum on Enforcement was well attended again this year with delegates from England, Wales and Scotland travelling to Manchester for the event. Feedback from delegates who took part in the event on 1 October was positive:

  • Once again a very good, balanced, practically-aimed Forum. Dorsan Baker, Peak District National Park Authority.
  • Always learn something new and useful. Range of workshop sessions varied and current. Louisa Burton, Eden District Council
  • Another well organised event with relevant and topical subjects - a must attend for enforcement professionals. Mark Lane, Worcestershire County Council
  • On point! Topical. An essential update for all planning staff. Mark Dall, Fife Council
  • Very practical content which provided a useful review of case law and concepts. Hazel Walsh, Selby DC.

For those of you who were not able to attend this time, here's what you missed ...

The opening plenary session was delivered by Izindi Visagie, Solicitor and founder of Ivy Legal. Izindi gave an enthusiastic update on a number of key changes to primary and secondary legislation, a run through of a raft of recent decisions of the Courts with relevance to enforcement, and finished up with an explanation of how the Planning Enforcement Fund is administered. She also provided chocolate! Izindi's session was well received, and spot on for those of us who don't seem to be able to find the time to read the Journal of Planning and Environmental Law every month!

Three focused parallel sessions followed, with everyone able to attend two:

  • Andrew George, Enforcement Officer at the South Downs National Park Authority, spoke about the identification of the planning unit, a fundamental concept when dealing with any alleged material change of use. He looked at how to identify the correct planning unit (with reference to Burdle), and the unfortunate consequences of getting the assessment wrong!
  • Jonathan Short, Planning Enforcement Officer at South Kesteven DC looked at the second leg of the definition of 'development', which relates to the undertaking of 'operations'. His particular focus was on the substantial completion of building operations, the engagement of the '4 year rule', and the consequences of the developer's 'fall-back' position.
  • Michael Hyde, Independent Planning Consultant and TRA Associate, talked about how important it can sometimes be for a developer to keep a planning permission 'alive'. With reference to case law he looked at the scope of the various 'material operations' that if undertaken could be taken to be the implementation of a planning permission, and the sometimes tricky issue of conditions' precedent.

To end the day Vivien Green, TRA Senior Associate, delivered an updated version of Trevor Roberts' 2006 presentation 'Stop Wasting Your Time!' She looked at the important difference between being 'efficient' and 'effective' (definitely not the same thing), and how crucial it is for limited enforcement resources to be deployed 'on target'. Her input was particularly topical given that the Chancellor has asked all departments to produce budgets for cuts of up to 40%.

The event was chaired by Jonathan Cawley, Director of Planning and Cultural Heritage at the Snowdonia National Park Authority. In his introduction Jonathan stressed the importance of enforcement (or compliance as it is in Snowdonia) to the delivery of the Park Authority's planning function, and stressed how important it is to be 'pro-active', as opposed to purely 'reactive'.

As always, we would welcome any ideas for improving the Forum in terms of format, subject matter etc. You can email any suggestions to penny@tra-ltd.co.uk. Alternatively, you could 'tweet' your thoughts to us at @TRA_Limited. The date for the 2016 Forum will be announced shortly.

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Turners Hill Neighbourhood Plan submitted to TRA for examination

The latest neighbourhood plan submitted to TRA for examination is the Turners Hill Neighbourhood Plan. The plan was submitted by Mid Sussex District Council at the end of August and has been allocated to Examiner Brian Dodd.

The Neighbourhood Plan Examination service from TRA offers a competitive pricing structure and the excellent administrative backup and customer service for which TRA is well known. If you would like to know more about the service please visit the Neighbourhood Plan Examination page of our website. If you are interested in receiving a quotation or have any additional questions you can contact Penny O'Shea on 01204 385678 or penny@tra-ltd.co.uk without obligation.

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Focused training for Councillors on specific aspects of planning

TRA is the UK's leading provider of practitioner-presented training for Councillors involved in planning and has trained Councillors in more than 240 local authorities throughout England, Scotland and Wales.



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



Where Councillors have already undertaken basic training, we are able to conduct more detailed sessions on specific aspects of planning. These are 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 include:

  • avoiding cost awards at appeal (NEW)
  • planning enforcement
  • good practice for DM/planning committees (NEW)
  • a briefing on Neighbourhood Planning
  • trees and the planning process (NEW)

This is a small selection of the sessions that we can run exclusively on an in-house basis; 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.

For more general training on the planning system, we are also still able to offer our most popular one-day workshops:

  1. A Briefing on Planning for Councillors (two presenters) - covering planning procedures and policies, and focusing especially on Development Management (available in full day and half day formats)
  2. The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice (two presenters) - covering issues such as conflicts and declarations of interest, material considerations, lobbying, and making the decision (available in full day and half day formats)
  3. A Planning workshop for Councillors - (one presenter) - this session combines elements from both of the above workshops to give a broad overview of planning and a Councillors role. (full day format only)

More details on the above training workshops can be seen on our website in the Councillors Training section.

If you would like more information on any of our in-house training workshops for Members, including an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes for a no-obligation quotation. Please note that 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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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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