ENews Issue - 15 December 2006

ENews - December 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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We would like to wish all our clients, Presenters, Associates and business contacts of all kinds a very Merry Christmas and a happy and successful New Year. We are grateful for all the support we have received during the year and look forward to keeping in touch with you all during 2007.

Please note that the TRA office will be closed on Friday 22 December. However, we will be here between Christmas and New Year (27-29 December).


Chapter 5 of the Final Report from the Barker Review of Land Use Planning focuses on Improving the performance of local planning authorities. As well as recommending increased training for officers, the Report recommends that wider use should be made of "business process reviews and best practice guidance to ensure that the time of more qualified planners is freed up to focus on the most complex cases". (Recommendation 21). Within this, the Report acknowledges that engaging a team of consultants in this regard could be a "useful approach".

This is an area where TRA has been involved for several years and can undertake assignments of varying sizes. We have already been commissioned by more than 25 authorities to undertake a detailed review of their Development Control Procedures, followed by the development of an Online DC Procedure Guide bespoke to the authority. Details of this service are available on the website. We have also carried out a number of smaller, more focused review assignments looking at particular aspects of the planning service. Examples of the areas we can focus on can also be found on the website. These more focused reviews are ideal for authorities where it is either not feasible or not necessary to review all aspects of the service.

Please feel free to contact Penny O'Shea, without obligation, if you would like further information.


We have recently developed and presented a bespoke training session for Arun DC, focusing on Urban Design Layout Issues. The workshop was put together and delivered by Ian Bentley and covered three key areas: developing a conceptual framework; layout issues; and issues of detailed design.

Feedback from participants was excellent:

I didn't expect it to be so informative and useful! A well structured seminar. It flowed well and was very useful in its ideas and how they could be implemented.

Particularly useful thoughts on dissociating architecture from underlying design principles at structural and detailed level - this is invaluable for planning officers.

It gave a very informative explanation of design matters, both historic and present. A very enjoyable training session offering some good design advice.

If you would like to know more about this workshop, or any of the other options for in-house training, please contact Suzanne Waldram. Details of the topics currently available can be found on our website. We are also happy to consider requests to develop tailored sessions for individual clients.


We are sorry to report that one of the graduates on the Planning Enforcement programme recently passed away. Roger Howard, from the London Borough of Barking & Dagenham, died on the 8th November after a short illness. This latest illness was related to an ongoing health issue he'd had for a long time. Roger was awarded his Certificated from the University of Cambridge in June this year. We'd like to pay tribute to his perseverance and commitment, since his frequent visits to hospital often interrupted his studies.


We would like to hear from people who are currently working within the planning system in Wales who might be interested in getting involved in workshop presenting work with TRA. We are looking for people with hands-on experience of planning, mainly in the areas of development control, enforcement and administration. You would need to be reasonably flexible in terms of your availability so this opportunity would particularly suit people working freelance or part-time.

If the idea is of interest to you, please contact us by email in the first instance with a brief outline of your experience. This is very much an open-ended invitation and we may or may not engage someone on this occasion. However, we have taken on people who responded to similar invitations in the past so it is definitely worth a try if you are looking for a new challenge.

Please send CV/experience details to jobs@tra-ltd.co.uk.


TRA is looking to make a new appointment within its core team. The post of Senior Planning Consultant will be full time and permanent. Salary will be in the range of £30-34,000 plus profit share.

This is an exciting opportunity for someone with planning qualifications and 5-10 years' experience in a local authority, mainly in development control. If you (or someone you know) might be interested in this, please get in touch for a full information pack and application form.

The postholder will:

  • work in and/or lead consultancy teams undertaking reviews of local authority planning procedures (development control in particular) and developing online Procedure Guides
  • develop and run training sessions for both officers and members on aspects of planning, focusing on our key areas of development control, enforcement and administration/procedures
  • conduct research and good practice studies.

Although it is possible that the postholder could be based in our Bolton office, we envisage that he/she will be home-based with appropriate computer links. The work involves extensive travel throughout the UK, so it is necessary to be prepared to work away from home for up to three days per week, occasionally more.

If you would like to receive an information pack and application form (by email), please email to jobs@tra-ltd.co.uk. The closing date for applications is Friday 12 January 2007.


We are currently putting the final touches to the NATO (National Association of Tree Officers) programme of workshops for 2007 and details will be available shortly. As well as repeats of many of the popular workshops from the programme, the 2007 line-up will include two brand new workshops covering Project Management of External Contracts and E-standards for Trees.

Feedback on the 2006 workshops has been very positive:

  • A well-balanced course which dealt with a large number and range of issues very competently. Rachel Booth, Daventry DC (Disease & Decay in Trees)
  • An excellent update on wide ranging issues relating to trees in the planning sphere. Charlotte Colver, Alnwick DC (Trees and Development: future strategies)
  • An excellent introduction to a fast evolving area of planning practice, delivered with panache. Oliver Stutter, LB of Southwark (Working with the new BS5837).

If you would like to receive details of the 2007 programme once it is available please let us have your contact details or keep an eye on the website.

If you would like to know more about NATO and the benefits of membership (the authority is the member) please visit the NATO website.


Many of you will already be familiar with the Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement run by TRA and the University of Cambridge. The course has been running since 1996 and leads to the award of the University's Certificate of Continuing Education in Planning Enforcement. The course is extremely popular and more than 50 students have so far been awarded the Certificate.

The Certificate is recognised by the RTPI as a qualification that will assist practitioners achieve Technical Membership of the Institute. Local authorities are increasingly recognising the value of the Certificate, to the extent that it has been quoted in recruitment advertisements for Enforcement Officers as a desirable qualification.

We were therefore very surprised to see that the recent DCLG Review of Planning Enforcement recommends that "there should also be a specialist qualification in planning enforcement". (Recommendation 7d - download summary of recommendations here.)

Naturally, we have responded to the DCLG to make them aware of the qualification already on offer. We understand that a number of students with the Certificate are intending to write to the Minister, giving their impressions of the TRA/Cambridge University Certificate. We would encourage anyone else with experience of the course to do the same. We also understand that the National Association for Planning Enforcement (NAPE) would also like to hear from people on this issue - please contact NAPE's Chair, Tony Russell, via email.


We are delighted to announce the launch of the eagerly awaited Planning Administrators' Network (PAN).

The network will revolve around a dedicated website www.PlanningAdministratorsNetwork.co.uk and we would encourage anyone involved/interested in planning admin/support to visit the site and register for membership of the network. Registration is really quick and easy and membership is absolutely free.

Additional features will be added to the website as the network develops but the main feature - the interactive Discussion Forums - are ready for you to use now. To begin with, three Forums have been set up: General Discussion; Technical Questions; and Training and Development, which we hope will cover most of things people would like to discuss.

The success of the network will depend very much on the people who use it and we hope you will be able to make the most of this unique opportunity. We would be very interested to hear from you if you have any feedback or suggestions for the network.


TRA has a long track record of advising local authorities in all aspects of management, organisation and procedures. Although much of TRA's recent experience has been through its work with the planning service, we can provide management and organisational consultancy services across all sectors of local government.

Topics/issues on which TRA can provide advice and support include: - staff, team and organisational structures - officer/member relationships - performance management - the customer interface - business and service planning - mechanisms for finding and exploiting external resource opportunities - dealing with commercial partners and suppliers.

A flier providing further details can be downloaded here.

If you would like any additional information or to discuss your requirements in more detail please contact Penny O'Shea.


We are pleased to introduce the newest member of the TRA team, TREVOR ATKINSON, who joined us at the beginning of December. Trevor has taken up the new post of Manager (Management and Local Government) and will be concentrating mainly on delivering management training/consultancy-support/management-organisational and on expanding TRA's training and consultancy services more generally into other areas of local government beyond planning.

Before joining TRA he worked for a variety of both public and private sector organisations. He has been involved in economic development, land reclamation, urban design & construction and environmental consultancy. He began his career in the Landscape industry and over a period of 30 years moved from technical to professional and managerial positions. Most recently Trevor was a Director with a national property, engineering and environmental consultancy. He has a Masters Degree in Landscape Design and a Professional Diploma in Management Studies.

He joined TRA in order to focus on training and development and management consultancy which are areas of special interest to him. He is looking forward to actively participating in the future success of TRA and helping to establish a more diverse range of programmes to meet increasing public sector needs.

Trevor lives in Cumbria but hales from south east England. He is married with two children who are both University students. Outside of work, Trevor enjoys fell walking, running ½ Marathons, traveling and drinking real ale (when the children haven't spent his spare cash!).


One of TRA's new workshop presenters, Rachel Bland, has been shortlisted for the RTPI's Young Planner of the Year Award 2006. (See Rachels' profile on the RTPI website).

Rachel recently joined the TRA team to deliver a brand new workshop on Writing Effective Policies in the Local Development Framework as part of our new Forward Planning series.

In the last couple of months, she has moved from the Lake District National Park Authority to take up the post of Planning and Affordable Housing Officer for South Hams DC in Devon and begun studying for a PhD at Stirling University.

We wish her the best of luck for the award.


The 2007 programme of workshops for planning and development practitioners in Scotland is now available. Brochures will be circulated to our usual mailing contacts in the next few weeks and details are available on the website now.

The programme features many of our well-established workshops as well as two new ones: Financial Appraisal and Getting it Right: an essential workshop for all those involved in enforcement.

Our ever-popular block booking scheme continues for 2007 - get 15% off if you book 6 or more places (spread over any number of events). A special block booking form can be downloaded here.

The majority of the programme is usually fully booked, so early booking is advised. Please contact Shelagh Pooley to reserve places or for further 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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