ENews Issue - 22 August 2006

ENews - August 2006

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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TRA is particularly well-known for its programmes of workshops for planning and development staff run on an inter-authority basis. Many of these workshops can also be delivered on your own premises for staff from your authority and this can be a particularly cost-effective way of meeting training needs. We are also happy to arrange joint training sessions for a group of authorities (all we need is one authority to take the lead for organisational purposes).

A particularly popular option is our series on Basic Skills and Procedures for Development Control which is ideal for new or less experienced staff. This includes the following one-day workshops:

- An Introduction to Development Control

- Permitted Development

- Planning Conditions: a positive approach

- Preparing Committee Reports and Appeal Statements

- Negotiation Concepts and Skills

- The Basics of Planning Enforcement

- Preparing Written Representation Appeals

- Appearing at Hearings.

A flier providing basic information on this series can be downloaded in PDF format here and details of our other in-house training programmes can be found on the website. If you would like any additional information or if you would like to discuss the possibility of arranging some in-house training please contact Suzanne Waldram.


TRA is intending to extend its extremely popular workshop format to cover training in Building Control and is on the lookout for suitable presenters.

We would be pleased to hear from individuals who have extensive experience/expertise in the Building Control field, along with the communication skills necessary to deliver practical and interactive training in the subject. Ideally, some previous experience of delivering training would be preferred.

Specific topics will depend on the experience of the presenters involved but, at this stage, likely topics include:

- the basics of BC for support staff

- listed buildings

- schools and hospitals

- barn conversions

- development on hazardous sites

- customer care in a competitive environment.

Anyone interested can contact us on a no-commitment basis. Please email, with details of experience and other relevant background information, to jobs. (NB please don't telephone).


An up-to-date and effective Enforcement Policy is now regarded by many authorities as an important document from a customer care, procedural and complaints point of view. TRA is able to offer assistance to enforcement teams looking to develop their own Enforcement Policy document.

Unlike older enforcement policy documents which often simply spelled out what different notices could be served or explained how to report a complaint, modern policies need to offer guidance to all parties and at the same time clearly set out what the authority can and can't do. Policies also need to demonstrate how an authority will prioritise and handle complaints. This is important not only from a general customer care perspective but also because these documents link into wider service plans and performance is judged on how well the service is meeting the stated objectives. In addition, having a clear enforcement policy tells everyone, including officers, what should be expected and makes it easier for complaints about the enforcement service to be investigated.

The TRA consultancy team includes both planning and enforcement professionals who have extensive experience of developing and working with enforcement policy documents. We develop each client authority's Enforcement Policy through a collaborative process to ensure that all local circumstances and/or particular issues are covered.

TRA prepared an enforcement policy for South Oxfordshire District Council earlier this year. If you are interested in this kind of service for your own authority please contact Penny O'Shea for a no-commitment discussion.


For many years, TRA has specialised in developing team-working methods in local authorities at various levels. Team-working is a popular approach to managing staff and organisations, based on the belief that the whole should be greater than the sum of the individual parts. However, experience of its success in practice is mixed.

TRA's approach to team development involves a mixture of training and consultancy - equipping those involved with an awareness of both the principles and the limitations of team-working and then developing appropriate team-working structures and mechanisms appropriate to their particular requirements. This can then be followed up by any personal development required for team members to operate successfully and effectively.

A variety of types of teams throughout local government have benefitted from this approach and clearly every assignment is different. A PDF flier which provides further information can be downloaded here.

If the possibility of this kind of assignment is of interest to you please feel free to contact Penny O'Shea to discuss things further, without obligation.


As part of our 2007 workshop programme, we are introducing a brand new series of three workshops on forward planning topics.

Writing effective policies in the Local Development Framework will explore the most effective and practical means of expressing policies within the various elements of the LDF. It is crucial to get this right if the policies are to be clearly understood, applied and implemented. As well as covering key general principles and their application, including relevance, precision and "plain English" aspects, the workshop considers specific issues associated with writing: Core Policies; Action Plan Policies; Enabling Policies; Annual Monitoring Reports; Supplementary Planning Documents; and the policy context for s106 agreements/tariffs. (25 April - London / 3 October - Manchester)

Establishing a robust evidence base for planning policy will focus on mechanisms and good practice for ensuring that planning policies have a firm and evidenced basis. It is principally aimed at public sector staff engaged in Forward Planning, but will also be of interest to those in the private sector who may need to challenge the basis for policies, and also to people engaged in development control who need to appreciate the policy justification of policies they are applying. The workshop covers: significance of the evidence base; qualities of a robust evidence base for planning policy; how the evidence base is incorporated into and expressed in the LDF; sources of information; research tools and methods; involvement of consultants; how the evidence base is challenged; the relationship between the evidence base and public involvement. (24 May - Manchester / 25 October - Bristol)

Effective monitoring of policy implementation is aimed primarily at staff in Forward Planning who need to develop skills and awareness of best practice in monitoring implementation of policies in the LDF. This is increasingly emerging as a significant issue on which the credibility of the new planning system relies. The workshop covers: the significance of monitoring in the LDF; key principles of performance assessment; the provisions and requirements for monitoring including the AMR; building in monitoring as a routine mechanism of policy development; developing effective and practical links to development control and enforcement; establishing and maintaining links to the Community Strategy and other corporate policies; developing a good information base for continuous monitoring, including links to GIS. (29 March - London / 9 October - York).

If you would like to receive further information on these new workshops once they are available, please get in touch.


The programme for our latest Forum on Enforcement has now been finalised and publicity details will be circulated to our usual mailing contacts shortly. Details of speakers, topics etc are also available here.

The Forum will take place in Warrington on Thursday 12 October and the theme of this year's event is "getting it right".

A large number of places have already been reserved for this extremely popular annual event so early booking is strongly recommended. For further details or to reserve your place please contact Shelagh Pooley.


There has been a change of date for our Managing the Development Control Process workshop in Bristol. The workshop was originally to be held on 30 November 2006 but will now take place on Tuesday 21 November 2006.

Places are still available if you would like to attend. Please contact Shelagh Pooley.

Comments of previous participants who attended this workshop:

Very interactive and everyone had a good chance to put their views over. An excellent opportunity to share experience and know-how with others. Steve Faulkner, Sefton MBC

Very pragmatic presentation, giving a number of real world examples/experiences that encouraged audience participation and exchange. Homed in on major issues facing all planning authorities balancing scarce resources against performance. Peter Unthank, Essex County Council

Am relatively new to the management side of the profession and, as such, all of the course information was useful to build up my experience level. Ashley Langrick, Rotherham MBC


Details of the exciting new TRA/Cambridge University accredited course for planning support staff are now available. A brochure is currently being printed and will be circulated to our usual mailing contacts shortly. A PDF version is available now for download - please click here for a copy.

The first module will be run in January and February 2007 and details of all 2007 dates can be found on the website. Because this is a brand new course, we are maintaining some flexibility regarding which modules will be run on which dates from 2008 onwards but details will be posted on the website once they are available.

It is also possible to sign up for an emailing list we have set up specifically for people interested in in this particular course. If you would like to subscribe (only occasional emails will be sent) please click here and choose the appropriate list.

We are very much looking forward to the launch of this brand new course. It represents a completely unique training opportunity for those working in planning support and we hope that it will be well supported.

For further information or to reserve your place please contact Shelagh Pooley.


As part of our commitment to providing learning and development opportunities for planning administrative and support staff, TRA is currently setting up a Planning Administrators' Network.

The network will revolve around a dedicated website - www.PlanningAdministratorsNetwork.co.uk - and will offer facilities such as:

- latest news

- an interactive discussion forum

- advance publicity on training events

- special offers etc.

Membership will be on an individual basis and free.

The network will be launched later in 2006 and we hope that everyone working in planning admin/support will make the most of this unique opportunity to share experience and best practice with colleagues from all over the UK.

If you would like to be notified by email when the network is launched, please visit the network's website above and register your interest.


This section of ENews is a way for people who have taken part in the TRA/Cambridge University certificated courses to keep in contact with us and each other. We are keen to keep in touch so please let Shelagh at TRA know if you have any news.

Congratulations to Helen Brookes-Martin whose baby girl - Amelie Mae - was born on 16th June, weighing 6 pounds. Both are doing well and Helen tells us she is enjoying being a mum. Helen, who works at Dudley MBC, was awarded the certificate in Management Concepts and Skills earlier this year. She decided against going to the awards ceremony at Madingley on 14th June because of the timing and it looks like it was a sensible move. We wish them both all the best.


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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