ENews Issue - 24 May 2016

ENews - May 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:

  • New Green Belt development workshop for Councillors
  • Latest Support Staff Conference focuses on change
  • Current vacancies on Planning Jobs Board
  • Examiner recommends Arley Neighbourhood Plan for referendum
  • TRA gears up for post-election training
  • Workshops on Planning Conditions and Urban Design coming to Edinburgh
  • Securing good urban design in the Isle of Man




New Green Belt development workshop for Councillors

Following the introduction of a new workshop for officers on Development in the Green Belt as part of our 2016 training programme, we can now offer a similar session for Councillors.

Understanding Development in the Green Belt is a three hour workshop which can be delivered at a time of day to suit Councillors' other commitments, whether that's morning, afternoon or evening.

The session begins by considering the purpose of Green Belt before moving on to it's main focus - what you can and cannot do in the Green Belt - looking at the NPPF, the role of development plan policies, the difference between appropriate and inappropriate development, and what is meant by very special circumstances.

The workshop includes practical work on a case study looking at a range of Green Belt issues and a round-up of important case law.

If you would like to know more about this workshop and how it can be run for your authority please contact Angela Holmes.

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Latest Support Staff Conference focuses on change

TRA's 2016 Planning Support Conference took place last week in London. 73 delegates from 38 LPAs heard a well-rounded series of presentations and debate around the future of planning. In light of more and more Government proposals to alter how the planning system operates and who provides it, the theme for this year's Conference was "change".

Peter Lerner, TRA Senior Associate, and currently Interim Director responsible for planning at Hounslow, took delegates through the pros and cons of opening up the processing of planning applications to alternative providers. Peter focused on a number of uncertainties that still exist around the proposal and expressed his belief that for a number of good reasons it was unlikely to be successful without further consideration of aspects such as member and third party inter-relationships.

Nick Harding, Head of Planning at Peterborough and Fenland Councils, where he manages a shared service, explained in detail the challenges and benefits of LPAs merging their services. Nick's thoughtful insight into the problems he faced and how, to date, they have been overcome, gave food for thought that LPAs can make the model work with a lot of hard work and no little flexibility from those involved.

Vivien Green, TRA Senior Associate rounded the morning off with a brief overview of recent procedural changes in development management. After lunch Vivien continued her presentation by demonstrating how the Government's changes have affected the amount of development proposals now within LPAs' determination as a result of the rise of Prior Approval Notifications, greater flexibility in permitted development and increased powers for direct Government intervention.

This led perfectly into a round-table discussion led by Chair Chris Weetman, TRA Associate and independent planning consultant. The good humoured and thoughtful debate focused on where the panel believe that planning is going, and what issues and challenges it faces. These included ensuring there is a balance between speed, quality of decision making, good customer service and good design, in what is seen as an increasingly Treasury-led process.

The debate was a move away from the traditional breakout workshop format and allowed delegates to hear how the changes could affect them and what they could do to get more involved in their own authorities to influence and respond to a changing planning landscape.

The final member of the panel, the well-travelled Simon Rowberry who is currently interim Planning Policy Manager at South and Vale Council, demonstrated how he believes that support staff are the bedrock of planning, providing an invaluable skill set not readily available in the private sector. Simon's conclusions were that change is not going away, and that staff have to be flexible, embrace change and influence it where they can.

Feedback on the day was positive:

  • Having only been in planning support for a year I feel the session has enlightened me to the bigger picture. Tracy Lynch, Watford BC
  • I thought the format of the round table discussion was excellent with all the speakers bouncing questions and ideas off each other. Dan Nickson, Cheshire West & Chester Council
  • Structure of the conference worked well. Really enjoyed round table discussion after lunch. Robyn Chandler, Maldon DC
  • Very helpful and excellent opportunity to hear from others in a similar situation including professionals with previous experience. Carrie Chan, Chiltern DC.

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Current vacancies on Planning Jobs Board

Here's our pick of the current vacancies on our Planning Jobs Board (with closing dates in late May and June):

  • Assistant Director, Planning & Economic Development - Rochford DC (closing 30 May)
  • Strategic Planning and Infrastructure Manager - Kent CC
  • Development Control Manager - Waverley BC
  • Development Lead - Stafford BC (closing 25 May)
  • Principal Planner - Worcestershire CC (closing 27 May)
  • Principal Urban Design Officer - Guildford BC
  • Principal Planning Officer (Majors Team) - Guildford BC (closing 30 May)
  • Senior Planner (New Neighbourhoods) - Cambridge City Council
  • Senior Planning Officer - Ipswich BC
  • Senior Planning Enforcement Officer - Maidstone BC
  • Investigators - The Local Government Ombudsman
  • Planning Officer - Chelmsford City Council
  • Planning Officers - Maidstone BC
  • Planning Officer (maternity cover) - Allerdale BC
  • Planning Officers (x2) - Ipswich BC
  • Tree Officer - Guildford BC (closing 30 May)
  • Assistant Planning Officer - Rochdale BC
  • Planning Assistant - Craven DC

Advertising on TRA's Jobs Board is entirely free to local authorities handling their own recruitment. 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.

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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Examiner recommends Arley Neighbourhood Plan for referendum

The examination of the Arley Neighbourhood Plan, submitted to TRA by North Warwickshire BC, was completed in April. The Examiner Brian Dodd concluded that, subject to some modifications, the Plan meets the "basic conditions" and other legal tests required. He therefore recommended that the Plan should proceed to a Referendum once modified. The Borough Council will now consider the Examiner's report and make a decision on whether the Plan will proceed to this next stage.

The Neighbourhood Plan Examination service provided by 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 Examinations 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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TRA gears up for post-election training

Following the local elections, the upcoming weeks are set to be a busy time for TRA as our presenters deliver training in planning matters for newly elected members and help to refresh the knowledge of experienced Councillors in local authorities.



Due to time commitments, which is often a major consideration when organising Councillor training, our short three hour sessions are proving to be particularly popular at the moment, several of which are running within the next couple of weeks in Great Yarmouth, Woking, Redditch, Hart and Milton Keynes.



These sessions are essentially shortened versions of our one day workshops A Briefing on Planning and The Role of Councillors in Planning. Sessions can be run in a morning, afternoon or evening to suit and are delivered by one of our experienced presenters.



Both sessions provide an overview of all the key elements that members need to be familiar with/aware of and are therefore an excellent basic grounding. They are suitable for both new/newer members and those with more experience; TRA presenters are used to handling groups of mixed experience levels.

Feedback from previous sessions has always been very encouraging:

A Briefing on Planning

  • As a new Councillor I found it very informative. Quite a dry subject but as a mandatory course, very useful. I liked the anecdotes! Sue Hobson, Derbyshire Dales DC
  • It was comprehensive and interesting, as well as being well delivered. I found it easy to understand and helpful. The presenter was open to questions, which he answered fully. Very enthusiastic. Joy Goodall, Tamworth BC
  • Very good delivery of a complicated subject. Content was excellent and was presented in a very good way that explained the subject very well indeed. Great course, superb presenter! Tony Madge, Tamworth BC
  • Even though I am an experienced development committee member, I found it informative and thought provoking. Sue Featherstone, St Albans DC.

The Role of Councillors in Planning

  • Informative and very interesting. As a new Councillor the notes will provide a good reference base for me. Maggie Prior, North Norfolk DC
  • One of the best training events I have been to! Gaynor Owen, West Lancs BC
  • A very good presentation, modified on the hoof to suit the audience. I learnt a lot and felt enthused and have taken three points back for review. Emma Stokes, Wychavon DC
  • Very good. Very interactive, current and interesting. The presenter was very good and enthusiastic. A good trainer. W Hartnett, Redditch BC.

As mentioned above, we can also deliver full day sessions, details of which can be found on our website. If you are considering booking training for your Councillors please do not hesitate to get in touch with Angela Holmes who will be happy to provide you with a detailed quotation.

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Workshops on Planning Conditions and Urban Design coming to Edinburgh

The Scottish Workshop Programme is set to continue in June with two recent additions to the programme taking place in Edinburgh on 16 June 2016. Both these workshops proved very popular and were more or less fully booked for their first outing in Glasgow last year:

The Use and Abuse of Planning Conditions and Section 75 Obligations

Planning conditions or Section 75 Obligations can make the difference between the approval or the refusal of planning permission; they should therefore be necessary and reasonable. They must be monitored to ensure compliance with their requirements, so should therefore also be precise and enforceable. This recently developed workshop will examine the use of conditions and Planning Obligations with reference to Circulars 4/1998 and 3/2012, using genuine examples of both good and bad practice! The procedures relating to the submission of applications to vary/discharge conditions and obligations will also be looked at in detail.

The Language of Urban Design

This recently developed workshop seeks to equip participants with a confident approach to negotiating and commenting on planning applications with an emphasis on clarity, objective criteria and communication to Members, stake-holders and developers. Using a variety of techniques, participants will explore the language of urban design through examples, field work and the exploration of local and national policy, in the context of best practice from the UK and abroad. Touching on developing, using and supporting local policy, the workshop will provide participants with an essential understanding of local distinctiveness, in the context of Scottish Planning Policy. With specific exercises that define such matters as scale, form, massing, layout, parking, roofline, the use of materials and the integration of contemporary design in context, the workshop will provide a solid grounding in urban design for a wide range of development professionals.

(Note - this workshop is now also included in our programme for England & Wales and will take place in London on 9 June 2016.)

We received some very positive comments from delegates who attended last year's workshops including:

"It was a good refresher and informative presentation. Best part was the discussions generated between people from different authorities and the presenter's experiences" Malcolm White, Aberdeenshire Council (Planning Conditions)

"Good content, use of examples and informative participation and discussions" Fiona Knighton, North Ayrshire Council (Planning Conditions)

"Very interesting and very enthusiastic host. Was great to get out on site and look at the design in the area" Fiona Scott, Argyll & Bute Council (Urban Design)

"Very informative and was practical. Group exercise was good as it put knowledge into practice" Gavin Forrest, Stirling Council (Urban Design)

Further details and booking forms for these workshops are available on our website via the above links. If you are unable to send a booking form straight away for any workshop you are interested in attending, provisional bookings are recommended and can be made by telephone on 01204 385678 or via the online provisonal booking facility.

Don't forget - bookings of 2 or more places made at the same time over any number of events, will receive between 10 and 15% discount depending on the total number of places booked. Details are on this special discounted Block Booking form.

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Securing good urban design in the Isle of Man

TRA was recently commissioned by the Isle of Man Council to develop and deliver a bespoke two and a half day training session on the concepts of Urban Design. The course offered a unique opportunity for the Council's planning officers and agents/architects to come together to better understand their role in the common goal of securing good design on the Isle of Man.

TRA Presenter, Tim Crawshaw, designed and delivered the training, creating a supportive and open environment where ideas could be explored with a view to promoting dialogue and a sense of common purpose, increasing the understanding of the priorities of clients, agents, policy planners, design and heritage specialists, and development managers.

Using a variety of participatory techniques, Tim provided the attendees with additional skills in developing and assessing schemes to reinforce local distinctiveness. In addition, the role of design codes and guidance in the context of the Island's distinctive character was explored alongside practical approaches to negotiations and the development of a common design language.

Participant feedback following the training was excellent:

  • The tailored nature of the training was really valuable, as was the more general guidance that backed it up. Tim is an excellent and engaging presenter. Ed Riley
  • The info was relevant and clearly understandable. The presenter was very enthusiastic about the subject. Would highly recommend the course. Chris Balmer
  • I greatly appreciated the feedback from Tim about not only our planning system but our environment. Tim was able to modify what he's learned to our unique system very well. Sarah Corlett
  • Clear and well presented, the topics covered were informative and relevant to what we do. The relaxed manner in which the information was presented helped to create informal discussions with some interesting topics. Jason Singleton
  • The workshop was very relevant to us all and was very thought provoking. It challenged our ideas and made us question them. Tim had a great way of enticing us all. Course very varied, interesting and informative. Erica Spencer.

Many of TRA's workshops are based on bespoke requirements, such as the above, to ensure that our client's needs are fully met with regards to training. If you think that your authority might benefit from a tailored training session, please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes directly 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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