ENews Issue - 23 October 2007

ENews - October 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's 2008 programme of training for planning and development practitioners in England and Wales has now been finalised. Details are available on the website now and publicity details will be circulated to our usual contacts shortly. In the meantime, you can download our handy programme summary in PDF format.

The 2008 programme features four brand new topics:

  • Being Effective at Enforcement Inquiries
  • Trees and the Planning Process
  • The Procurement and Management of Consultants
  • Sustainabil ity and the Planning Process.

The programme also includes repeats of our new workshop on Examinations of DPD Documents which began running in September this year and sees the return after a couple of years of two popular enforcement-related workshops: Understanding Operational Development and Understanding Material Change of Use.

If you are on our publicity circulation list you will receive details of the 2008 programme automatically. If you're not yet on the list but would like to receive details you can sign-up now.

Individual leaflets/booking forms for each event will be available shortly but if you want to book a place on any of the workshops featured in the programme you can do so now using the general booking form or the discounted block booking form. As always, you can also reserve places provisionally by giving us a call or by using the provisional bookings facility on our website.


As well as our open, inter-authority training sessions, TRA delivers a considerable amount of planning-related training on an in-house basis for individual authorities (or groups of neighbouring authorities).

Recent training sessions delivered on an in-house basis include:

- Examinations of Development Plan Documents, organised by Kettering Borough Council for itself and some of its neighbours.

Simply very, very good. Material very relevant and touched on each point in just the right depth. The mock hearing was particularly valuable in understanding how it will feel at future examinations. Simon Richardson, Development Manager, Kettering Borough Council.

Most instructive and entertaining. I found the workshop extremely useful and took more notes than I expected! Took the mystique out of the forthcoming local process and clarified a number of issues. Karen Horner, East Northamptonshire Council.< /p>

- A bespoke session for DC support staff for South Gloucestershire Council, focusing on prior notification, listed building and conservation area consents, advert consents and specialist fee issues.

- A half-day workshop on Planning Enforcement for Councillors for Leeds City Council, covering the role of enforcement in the planning system and the relevant legislative and policy framework; what constitutes a breach of control; key elements of the enforcement tool kit and steps to make enforcement action more effective. This was one of a series of Councillor training workshops TRA has been commissioned to deliver for the City Council.

Details can be found on our website of our:

  • in-house training in development control
  • in-house training for planning support staff
  • in-house training for inquiries/examinations
  • in-house training for Councillors involved in Planning - England & Wales - Scotland

Please feel free to contact Suzanne Waldram, without obligation, if you would like more information or if you are interested in organising a training session. Please note that January to March is now starting to get busy so we would recommend contacting us sooner rather than later for sessions early in the New Year.


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 Julie Robshaw from Peterborough City Council who has gained Technical Membership of the RTPI, using her relevant experience and the TRA/Cambridge qualification to satisfy the Institute's requirements. Julie was awarded the Certificate of Continuing Education in Planning Enforcement at Madingley earlier this year.

For further information on routes to Technical Membership following the award of the Cambridge Certificate please contact Shelagh at TRA.

Congratulations also to Gaynor Richards who started a new job with a new authority in July. Gaynor was previously with East Staffordshire BC and has moved to South Derbyshire DC as Senior Enforcement Officer. We wish her all the best in her new role.


Vivien Green, one of TRA's Senior Associates, delivered a hard-hitting session for Councillors - Planning Enforcement: too little...too late? - at this year's RTPI Summer School.

The workshop session drew on Vivien's experience of how enforcement is seen in all parts of the UK, with Scotland and Wales taking their own paths, and considered what each system might have to learn from the other. She argued that enforcement should not be seen as a "complaints service driven by the most vociferous" - this is too little and too late. Enforcement, in its widest sense of monitoring and compliance, is the key to the integrity of the whole planning process.

The content of Vivien's paper would be of interest to Councillors, DC Managers and Enforcement Officers and her presentation is available for download.

Vivien is the main Course Tutor on TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement run in conjunction with the University of Cambridge and delivers a variety of enforcement-related training sessions for both officers and Councillors.


TRA is looking to appoint a new Senior Planning Consultant to its core team, as advertised in Planning magazine (19 Oct).

The post of Senior Planning Consultant will be permanent and ideally full-time, although we will consider applications from those wishing to work part-time. The full-time salary will be in the range of £30-34,000, plus performance related bonus.

This represents an exciting opportunity for someone with planning qualifications and several years' experience in a local authority planning environment. If you (or someone you know) might be interested in a job like this, please get in touch for a full information pack and application form.

The postholder will:

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

Although the postholder should be able to visit and/or work from our Bolton office from time to time, 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. This would usually be for a couple of days at a time but could on occasion be for as much as three or four days.

If you would like to receive a PDF information pack and application form, please email to jobs@tra-ltd.co.uk. The closing date for applications is Friday 16 November 2007.


Earlier this year, TRA was commissioned by the Scottish Planning Enforcement Forum (SPEF) to organise and deliver a weekend workshop for their members. The event, which was funded by the Improvement Service through the Planning Development Programme, took place at the beginning of October at the Scottish Police College at Tulliallan Castle.

The programme, which ran from Friday evening until Sunday lunch-time, opened with a presentation from Jim Mackinnon, Director and Chief Planner with the Scottish Government, who outlined enforcement's key role in the new Development Management framework. Excellent contributions followed from representatives of the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service, looking at the interface between enforcement staff and COPFS and providing good practice advice in relation to prosecutions and giving evidence. Trevor Roberts from TRA delivered a workshop session on "how to stop wasting your time in enforcement" and Vivien Green, Senior Associate of TRA, ran an Enforcement Clinic, looking at demolition, PD and advert problems. The event closed with a lively and enlightening "View from the Bench" provided by a speaker from the Sheriff Courts Office.

Feedback on the event was extremely positive:

On behalf of the SPEF members, I would like to thank TRA for organising this event. Having spoken to numerous members, it has been hailed as a huge succcess. John Ryan, Glasgow City Council.

Very helpful and informative event. I feel better prepared for any occasions where I may need to give evidence in court. Stuart West, Orkney Islands Council

This was an excellent event. The pace was ideal, not too intense and the networking was an excellent opportunity to discuss issues that had arisen throughout the sessions. Paul Devaney, City of Edinburgh Council

It was brill! I learned a great deal and will put into practice many of the items discussed at the course and the advice given by the various speakers. Christine Morris, East Ayrshire Council

Excellent. Well delivered. I feel much improved by this entire experience. Ian Stevenson, Fife Council.


In early September, TRA delivered a bespoke urban design awareness workshop for the new Planning Commitee at the City of Edinburgh Council. The Council had specifically commissioned TRA to develop a workshop which focused on the principles involved in urban design with an emphasis on the design of contemporary buildings in historic settings.

As well as a mixture of presentations and discussion, the workshop included a walking tour of Edinburgh High Street and surrounds (pictured below) to observe good and bad design examples to reinforce some of the key points raised during the workshop.

The response from members was very positive and comments included:

"It was a very useful introduction to design concepts and terminology"

"I thought the walking tour was particularly useful"

"It encoura ged debate and provided an understanding of issues involved in planning and urban design."

For more information on this or similar urban design awareness training which can be organised on an "in-house" basis please contact Suzanne Waldram.


TRA has recently developed a brand new one-day workshop for Building Control officers and their technical/support colleagues, which provides an introduction to the planning process.

Building Control staff often work very closely with their colleagues in Development Control but often with only limited knowledge of the planning system, how it operates, and the limits and considerations which have to be kept in mind by Development Control officers. This workshop is designed to give Building Control staff a grounding in how the planning system works and will take a practical look at the following elements:

  • permitted development
  • en forcement
  • appeals
  • planning conditions.

The Introduction to Planning for Building Control Staff will help participants in their dealings with DC colleagues and will also enable them to make their own building control decisions with a greater awareness of what the implications may be in terms of planning requirements. This increased understanding should help local authorities work in a more joined-up way.

There are still places available on the workshop when it runs in York on 8 November 2007 and in London on 15 November 2007 but prompt booking is recommended at this stage. The workshop is delivered by Lee Prebble, one of TRA's Senior Associates, with many years' experience in planning/DC. Places are limited to 20 participants to encourage participation.

If you are interested in attending this unique new workshop you can download a PDF leaflet/booking form. If you are not able to book immediately, you can reserve a place provisionally - without obligation - by telephone on 01204 385678 or via the provisional bookings facility on our website.


The Development Management Practice Project is a new action learning project, established by the Planning Officers' Society and TRA, and involving 16 local planning authorities from across England. The output of the project is a series of Best Practice Guidance Notes to assist those involved in development management. The Guidance Notes focus on particular areas of practice where there is currently little in the way of formal guidance as to what constitutes best practice.

You can now download free of charge the latest Guidance Note which looks at Councillor Involvement in Pre-application Discussions.

The two previous Guidance Notes can also be downloaded for free:

  • Public Speaking in Planning Committees
  • Pre and Post Decision Amendments

The project began in April 2007 and is initially set to run for 12 months. At least two more guidance notes will be issued focusing on :

  • how authorities should best approach the issues of validation, and
  • the management of major applications.


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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