ENews Issue - 23 March 2016

ENews - March 2016

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:

  • Three Training Workshops in Manchester to start this year's programme!
  • Latest vacancies on TRA Planning Jobs Board
  • New date for TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff - book now!
  • TRA involved in LGA/NALC events for Town & Parish Leaders
  • Focusing on good customer care with Harrogate DM Staff
  • Post Election training for Councillors - A Reminder




Three Training Workshops in Manchester to start this year's programme!

As mentioned in last month's enews, the TRA Training workshop programme for Scotland begins in Glasgow with two workshops taking place on 10 May. The programme for England and Wales will also begin in the same month with three workshops covering very different subjects, in Manchester on 26 May 2016:

  • Supporting the Processing of Planning Applications: from receipt to appeals

    Experienced support staff are key people within any planning department and the workshop aims to develop their knowledge and understanding of the detailed requirements involved in processing planning applications and appeals. This will also enable them to make a valuable input into re-engineering or streamlining these processes. The interactive methods of the workshop afford a valuable opportunity to compare work practices and procedures in other authorities and deal with practical issues and concerns. The workshop will also consider any proposed changes or consultations that are current at the time.
  • Engaging with Local Communities in Neighbourhood Plan Preparation

    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 recently developed 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 also 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.
  • An Introduction to Appeals

    This recently developed workshop provides an overview of the appeals process and is ideal for those new to planning or with limited experience so far. It includes a reminder of the basics including: rights of appeal; the methods of appeal; the role of Inspectors and the courts; and key points from the Regulations and planning practice guidance. The characteristics of each of the three methods of appeal (written representations, hearings and public inquiries) are considered and practical advice is given by an experienced practitioner on what makes a good appeal statement. Recent trends, including success rates, the Government's view of how the appeals system should operate and the current culture of the Inspectorate will be discussed. The workshop also includes an introduction to the costs regime. It concludes with a practical look at some recen t appeal decisions to consider their style and scope.

Further details for all these workshops can be found on the TRA website via the above links. Bookings can be made using the booking forms available for download from the website. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away for any workshop you may be interested in, provisional bookings are recommended to reserve places and can be made by calling 01204 385678 or via the online provisional booking facility.

As ever, our popular block booking system is available for those looking to book 2 or more places at the same time over any number of events in the 2016 programme to earn discounts of between 10 and 15%. Further details are available on this Block Booking Form.

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Latest vacancies on TRA Planning Jobs Board

Advertising on our Jobs Board is entirely free to local authorities handling their own recruitment (unfortunately we can't offer it to recruitment agencies). We are keen to include planning roles of all types including those in planning support and planning enforcement.

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 on our Planning Jobs Board (with closing dates in late March and April):

  • Team Leader (Planners & Conservation) - Stratford-on-Avon DC
  • Assistant Team Leader (Planners & Conservation) - Stratford-on-Avon DC
  • Principal Planning Officer - Ribble Valley BC
  • Senior Planning Officer (Policy) - Bracknell Forest Council
  • Senior Environmental Policy Officer - Bracknell Forest Council (closing 28 March)
  • Planning Officer - Nottinghamshire CC
  • Development Management Planner - South Kesteven DC
  • 2 x Planners / 2x and Assistant Planners (Policy) - Chiltern & South Bucks DCs
  • Monitoring and Enforcement Officer - Nottinghamshire CC
  • Enforcement Officer - South and Vale DC (closing 31 March)
  • Monitoring Enforcement Officer - Eastleigh BC (closing 29 March)

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.

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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New date for TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff - book now!

As some of you may have seen, the 2016 Conference for Planning Support Staff was originally scheduled to take place on 23 June 2016. However, another slightly more large scale event has now been scheduled for this date by the government! As a result we have moved the Conference to the slightly earlier date of 19 May 2016 at The Wesley in London.

The Conference is aimed at all administrative and technical staff involved in the planning process and addresses new areas of practice, as well as day to day issues. It represents a unique and valuable opportunity for those involved in planning support to meet with colleagues from other authorities and learn about current best practice and future developments affecting planning.

This year's event is intended to provide participants with the opportunity to understand the current direction of travel and focus of planning service delivery and what it might look like in the years ahead, particularly in light of proposals in the recent Housing and Planning Bill. The contributors will be:

  • PETER LERNER, Director of Peter Lerner Consultancy and experienced Interim Manager will consider the issue of "privatising" the processing of planning applications
  • NICK HARDING, Head of Planning at Fenland and Peterborough Councils will share his experience of setting up a joint service across two authorities
  • SIMON ROWBERRY, Interim Planning Policy Manager at South Oxfordshire DC will share his considerable experience of adapting to, coping with and managing change in an ever-changing work environment
  • VIVIEN GREEN, TRA Senior Associate will provide an essential update on recent changes to Development Management and how these impact on service delivery
  • CHRIS WEETMAN, independent planning consultant and TRA Associate will chair the event, including the concluding session which will be a
  • ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION involving all the day's speakers, around the future delivery of planning services with a particular focus on the implications for planning support staff.

Further details and a booking form can be found on the TRA website. If you are unable to send a firm booking straight away, places can be reserved provisionally be telephoning 01204 385678 or via the online provisional booking facility.

This event is also eligible for the block booking scheme where bookings of 2 or more places made at the same time (over any number of events in the programme) will receive a discount of between 10 and 15%. Further details of this and a block booking form are also on the website.

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TRA involved in LGA/NALC events for Town & Parish Leaders

TRA was recently invited to contribute to a series of development events for Town & Parish Council Leaders being organised by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and the Local Government Association (LGA). Each event, which ran over three days, covered a range of topics of interest to Town & Parish Leaders, one of which was the planning system. TRA got involved because of its place on the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) approved supplier framework.

The planning workshop was delivered four times during January and February by TRA Associate, Andrew Ashcroft; three sessions were for Leaders and one was for officers from NALC who are responsible for training. The aim of the workshop was to increase understanding of planning and the role of Town and Parish councils in decision making, including through neighbourhood planning. The feedback from delegates was very positive:

  • Good speaker who covered a difficult area (for me) very well
  • Lots of info for me to develop my knowledge
  • Excellent, fast paced, interesting with useful tips
  • Very informative - lots of very interesting and helpful details, top tips and suggestions, very good!

TRA is the leading provider of training for Councillors involved in planning and our courses include a number of options for those involved at Town and Parish level. Further information and feedback from those who have attended can be found on our website:

  • Briefing on Planning for Town & Parish Councillors
  • Briefings on Neighbourhood Planning for Community Groups/Parish Councils

If you would like further information on any of these training options, without obligation, please contact Angela Holmes.

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Focusing on good customer care with Harrogate DM Staff

TRA recently delivered an in-house session at Harrogate Borough Council on Managing the Planning Customer's Experience for Development Management Staff.

This one-day interactive workshop provided participants 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.

Whether as part of the LDF process or as part of the 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.

The session was developed and delivered by TRA Presenter, Chris Weetman, and feedback from the attendees was very positive:

  • Did what it said on the tin. Usual tips on how to proceed and how to handle customers in a more sensitive manner. Mark Dunforth
  • I feel better informed of the Do's and Don'ts of customer service and complaint handling and it was also tailored to the particular service we provide. Andrew Siddall
  • Informative about how body language creates an atmosphere. Interesting case studies about how complaints are handled and how this can incur costs. Claire Barwick
  • Highlighted a few instances where I may be 'weak' and could improve. A good insight into how complaints can escalate if not handled correctly. Andrew Hough

If you would like more information on this course, such as an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes who will be happy to assist, without obligation.

You can also visit our website to see details on the other workshops we can deliver on Management and Personal Development for Planners.

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Post Election training for Councillors - A Reminder

With local elections coming up in May, your authority may well be starting to consider the options for providing training for Councillors who are involved in the planning process. As the UK's leading provider of practitioner-presented training for Councillors involved in planning TRA has trained Councillors in over 240 local authorities throughout the UK.

Even for those Councillors who are relatively experienced in planning, training will be especially important in light of the ongoing changes to the way in which the planning system operates. We regularly update all of our workshops to reflect such changes and what they mean with regards to a member's role/responsibility; so you can be assured that our workshop content is bang up to date.

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 (two presenters) - covering planning procedures and policies, and focusing especially on Development Management
  • 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
  • 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 Councillor's role.

If the time commitment for Councillors is a major consideration we can also offer shorter sessions (3 hours) with flexible timings during a morning, afternoon or evening. These sessions are essentially shortened versions of the above Briefing on Planning and Role of Councillors one-day workshops and are delivered by one presenter.

The Training for Councillors section of our website provides some further information and answers the most frequently asked questions. We generally ask for around 4-6 weeks notice to arrange Councillor training but we will aim to accommodate clients wherever possible thanks to our large team of experienced presenters.

Please note that demand is always very high in the period immediately after the elections and therefore we would highly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to fix your preferred date(s) and avoid any disappointment. Several authorities have already avoided the rush and booked their training days.

To see an outline programme without obligation, or to arrange a booking please contact Angela Holmes. Don't delay, get in touch today to avoid disappointment!

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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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