ENews Issue - 31 March 2007

ENews - March 2007

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 has recently completed a series of 6 half-day workshops organised on behalf of the Hereford & Worcester County & District Planning Officers' Group. The series, hosted by Worcestershire County Council, began in May 2006 and involved one workshop every couple of months.

The individual workshops were developed by TRA to a specific brief provided by the Group. They were

  • PPS Guidance and the Environment
  • Affordable Housing: effective negotiation techniques
  • Local Development Documents: issues and emerging best practice
  • Planning Obligations: current practice and future prospects
  • Regional Spatial Strategy: introduction and overview
  • Achieving Quality in DC: best practice advice and use of conditions.

Organising training workshops in conjunction with other authorities in your area, whether through a recognised officers' group or not, is a particularly cost-effective way of providing training and TRA is happy to consider requests to develop bespoke sessions to suit specific requirements. A list of the main planning/DC related topics on offer can be found on our website. If you are interested in organising training around a topic which doesn't appear on the list, please feel free to contact us and we'll see what we can do.

Please contact Suzanne Waldram with any questions regarding in-house training.


TRA Senior Associate, Ian Kinloch, has recently been appointed a member of the RTPI Membership Panel. Ian is a Solicitor specialising in planning work and provides a legal input into TRA's training services. He is involved mainly in in-house training on Public Inquiry skills and procedures.

Vivien Green, also a Senior Associate of TRA, is a member of the RTPI's Education and Lifelong Learning Committee. Vivien is a specialist in development control and enforcement and delivers a wide range of training, particularly for planning support staff and enforcement officers. She is the Main Course Tutor on TRA's certificated course in planning enforcement and part of our consultancy team carrying out planning procedure reviews.


We recently carried out a survey of students who have attended one or more modules on the TRA/Cambridge University Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement. We'd like to thank all those who took the time to complete our short questionnaire. The feedback was extremely useful and will be used as input to our ongoing quality control process.

All questionnaires were entered into a draw and the winner of a free workshop place was Darren Sellers, Enforcement Assistant at Lincolnshire County Council.

If you would like to know about the certificated enforcement course, please take a look at our website and/or feel free to contact Shelagh Pooley.


The first module in the brand new Certificated Programme for Planning Support Staff, offered by TRA in conjunction with the University of Cambridge took place in January and February at Madingley Hall, Cambridge.

Students are now in the process of completing their final assignment for the module. Even after such a relatively short time, the Course Tutors are already starting to see the students develop their understanding of planning and how they themselves fit into the bigger picture.

Feedback on the module so far has been positive:

"I have gained a great deal in terms of understanding the UK planning system. The course has helped me to gain more confidence and I think that has come from the presentations and writing the assignments. I feel that my report writing skills have improved greatly too. I have very much enjoyed this learning experience and will be going on to do the other three modules." Julie Scroggins, Peterborough City Council

"I understand a great deal more than I did before the course and I am eager to learn more. The course has given me the confidence to implement new-found knowledge and the foundations have been laid for future knowledge-building." Pamela Armstrong, Gateshead MBC.

There are four modules in the programme and students need to successfully complete all four in order to obtain the Certificate of Continuing Education from Cambridge University.

Module 1: The UK Planning Framework and the Role of Planning Support within it which has just run should ideally be taken first, although the modules can be taken in any order if preferred. Module 2: The Statutory Basis for Town Planning & Planning Support will run in May and June and Module 1 is being repeated in October and November.

For further information please contact Shelagh Pooley.


The Local Government White Paper - Strong and prosperous communities (October 2006), promotes more responsive services and empowered communities and advocates a stronger and more stable leadership. There is an emphasis on transforming local services and driving through efficiency.

TRA's Management in the Modern Local Authority programme can assist local authority managers to meet these challenges. TRA has an established reputation for providing quality and cost-effective management training/development for local authority staff. There are three workshops running in April and May which senior/middle managers should find particularly appropriate.

Dealing with Commercial Partners and Suppliers

This workshop provides an understanding of the commercial sector and the issues involved in working with partners, and explores ways of achieving value for money and sustainable procurement objectives in line with the 'smarter procurement' theme in the White Paper.

Supervision and Leadership Skills

Strong supervision and leadership skills are an essential tool for Councils faced with today's challenges. They need well-equipped and determined managers to drive through the necessary improvements and this workshop helps participants develop further their skills in these areas.

The Customer Interface: building it into the organisation

The public are demanding ever more responsive and accessible Councils. This workshop focuses on the customer interface and provides practical examples of how managers can build essential customer care systems into their organisation.

Each workshop is delivered by a presenter with lengthy local government experience at a senior level and involves a variety of training mechanisms including group discussion and practical exercises.

Places are still available on all three workshops but prompt booking is strongly recommended at this stage. PDF leaflets/booking forms can be downloaded here. Provisional bookings can be made by telephone or using the provisional bookings facility on our website.


TRA is pleased to see that the profile of enforcement is continuing to grow and that the Government's Review of Planning Enforcement document has recognised the important role enforcement can play. TRA has long advocated an enhanced role for enforcement within planning departments and we have recently helped a number of Councils review their enforcement service. These reviews can have a variety of objectives and can deliver a range of benefits but they are essentially designed to get the most out of limited resources and to make the service more proactive. Often our reviews can be used to build a robust case for more enforcement resources and can help officers establish procedures for dealing with a backlog of cases.

It is widely expected that the Government will establish performance targets for enforcement in the coming months. One of the recommendations in the government's review suggests that this would be linked to future delivery grant.

If you are interested in the possibility of a TRA review of your enforcement service, with a view to improving efficiency and effectiveness, please contact Penny O'Shea for a no-obligation discussion.


Local authority managers are not normally trained in commissioning consultants to undertake work for them and when they are required to do so they often encounter difficulties. Writing a brief in order to obtain the service you need and knowing how to appoint a consultant and manage them so that they deliver what you have asked for are important skills.

This brand new one-day workshop is designed to provide practical assistance in understanding the procurement process and the available options for engaging consultants. There is advice on how to construct a brief and select and appoint the best consultants and how to manage contracts in order to obtain a timely and value for money outcome for your authority.

The workshop is available on an in-house basis for individual authorities (ie delivered on your premises) and can be run for particular departments or for groups of staff from a variety of departments. It can accommodate up to a maximum of 20 participants.

The workshop is delivered by Trevor Atkinson. Trevor started his career in Landscape Contracting and later qualified as a Landscape Architect. He worked for Cumbria Council as a designer and later as a project manager, responsible for major reclamation and environmental improvement schemes. Immediately prior to joining TRA he was a Director with Capita Symonds, a national property, engineering and environmental consultancy. He therefore has experience of procurement practices from both public and private sector perspectives.

Trevor recently delivered the workshop for the planning department at Elmbridge BC, with positive feedback from participants. Janie Farquharson, Principal Planning Officer, said, "The workshop was very informative and has given us the training we need to progress contracts in the future. It was very useful and an eye opener!"

If you would like further information please contact Suzanne Waldram.


It is not too late to reserve places on some of the earlier workshops running as part of the NATO/TRA 2007 tree-related training programme:

Working with the new British Standard 5837:2005 - Manchester, 18 April

Disease and Decay in Trees - Cambridge, 1 May

Tree Hazard and Risk Assessment - Cambridge, 1 May

High Hedges:assessment of applications - Manchester, 2 May.

For further information or to reserve places, please contact Shelagh Pooley. Prompt booking is recommended at this stage.


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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