ENews Issue - 29 January 2008

ENews - January 2008

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 handed over an online Development Control Procedure Guide to Berwick-upon-Tweed Borough Council. The team involved was Trevor Roberts, Stewart Glassar and Sue Glover. TRA was commissioned by the authority following a report and review of the planning service by interim Head of Planning, Joan Rees.

The Procedure Guide is part of a package of measures designed to turn around a service which was close to collapse. The Guide is of particular value in a small authority like Berwick which is experiencing high staff turnover, because it allows new and temporary staff to get to grips with local procedures quickly. Special emphasis was placed on the framework of procedure management - so development of the Guide was supported by a series of training sessions on this topic, and also on 1APP/the new validation regime, report writing, site visit good practice and related topics.

Thanks for your very efficient and professional handling of the Berwick contract - it is going to make a major difference to the department. Joan Rees, Interim Head of Planning.

TRA also reviewed some key aspects of the planning operation in Berwick - the delegation scheme, the protocol for councillors involved in planning, the public address arrangements, councillor site visits and the development control charter.

If you would like to know more about TRA's reviews and procedure guides for development control please see our website or contact Penny O'Shea without obligation.


In 2007, TRA and the Planning Inspectorate jointly developed a workshop on Examinations of Development Plan Documents. The workshop is delivered jointly by Jed Griffiths from TRA and David Fenton from the Planning Inspectorate.

The session has been run several times with excellent feedback:

"Exceeded expectations and was a very useful and informative session. Presenters very good and involved the whole group." Steve Wilson, Scarborough BC

"Enjoyed the practical role-playing workshop and now have a better idea of what happens at EIP." Ian Collis, Spawforths

"It went very well and I think it was the best received training we have hosted here. Certainly recommended. Jed and David were very engaging. Please pass on our thanks for what was a very useful day." Mark Silverman, Hertsmere BC

The workshop is being run twice between now and the end of April on an inter-authority basis as part of our 2008 programme (Manchester and London). It can also be delivered on an in-house basis for individual authorities or a group of authorities - please contact Suzanne Waldram for further details.


TRA has been providing training on the various methods of planning appeal for many years. Workshops have usually focused in detail on a single method of appeal, be it Public Inquiries, Hearings, or Written Representations. More recently, and in response to specific requests for training which provides more of an overview of appeals, we have developed an additional workshop offering An Introduction to the Appeals Process.

This new workshop, which is particularly appropriate to those who are new to appeals, covers:

  • the right to appeal and other basic legal provisions
  • written reps, hearings and public inquiries - key characteristics of each (and who decides which should be used)
  • recent trends, including success rates
  • where the courts come in
  • the Secretary of State, Inspectors and the Inspectorate
  • the Government's view of how the system should operate
  • the current culture of the Inspectorate, especially in relation to the efficiency of the process
  • what Inspectors look for (and what they don't)
  • some key points for practitioners about each of the three mechanisms, and the different roles they will be required to play
  • an introduction to the costs regime.

The workshop is currently available exclusively on an in-house basis for individual local authorities or groups of authorities, although it is likely that we will include it in our inter-authority programmes at some stage in the future.

So far, the workshop has been delivered for Kerrier DC and for the Surrey Planning Officers' Association with positive feedback:

"Clearly set out the principles involved in the appeals process."

"This served as a useful refresher and reminder on aspects of the appeal process."

"Good advice on appeal statements. General overview of all appeal processes good."

"It has given me a clearer understanding of all types of appeals."

"Improved knowledge of requirements/good practice when dealing with appeals. Helpful tips."

If you would like to know more about this course or are interested in arranging a session for your authority 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.

The workshop is running twice in 2008: in London on 30 April and in Manchester on 21 October. It 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.


It has recently been drawn to our attention that there has been some confusion regarding the use of the TRA/Cambridge University Certificate of Continuing Education in Planning Enforcement in applications for Technical Membership of the RTPI.

There has been a mistake in the explanation of the requirements for Route 2 to Technical Membership on the RTPI's website but we are pleased to say that this has now been rectified.

To clarify - if you can satisfy the practical experience requirements for Route 2 (10 years in an enforcement, technical or admin role) you can apply for Technical Membership without having to complete the project normally required, if you have been awarded the Certificate in Planning Enforcement. This is all you need - you are not required to undertake any other training in order to apply.

Sincere apologies to any of our students who have encountered difficulties in applying. For full details of the Routes to Technical Membership please see the RTPI website.


TRA is now offering a brand new one-day workshop on urban design aimed at Planning Committee members. Design Considerations and the Principles of Urban Design is suitable for members of any level of experience and no previous knowledge of urban design is required.

The workshop has been designed to inform members who are looking to develop a basic appreciation of the issues and to assist them with their role in assessing the design qualities of development proposals. Specific aspects covered include:

  • what is the point of urban design?
  • qualities of public space: permeability, vitality, variety, legibility
  • planning guidance and best practice
  • use of planning briefs and design statements
  • landscape and public open space considerations
  • modern buildings in historic context.

The workshop makes use of a variety of techniques including inputs from the presenter and a virtual site visit using slides or (where possible/appropriate) a walking tour of local urban design examples.

The workshop is presented by Trevor Atkinson, and has developed from a similar training session he designed and delivered for members of the City of Edinburgh Council in September last year.Trevor has a wide range of experience in urban design and development, landscape design, master planning and project implementation. He has worked in local government as a Landscape Architect, Project Manager, and more recently as a Senior Manager with responsibility for the design and implementation of multi-disciplinary development projects and environmental improvement schemes in both urban and rural locations.

If you would like futher information on this workshop, or any of our other training sessions for members, please contact Suzanne Waldram.


If you've missed a recent issue of ENews or have only just subscribed to the newsletter then don't forget that previous issues of the TRA monthly newsletter can be accessed via our website. Just visit the Newsletter Archives page to catch up.


Details are now available of TRA's 2008 series of workshops on business management skills for local government staff.

Local authority staff have professional, technical and/or administrative skills and are often promoted because of these skills, along with their potential for taking on more responsibility. However, they also need other skills, including business management skills, if they are to be successful in senior or supervisory positions. They need a better grasp of things like how to increase efficiency; how to deliver projects effectively; and how to manage change.

This TRA series, currently consisting of six topics, aims to demystify these aspects of management for anyone working in local government, whatever their profession or background.

Some of the topics included in the series (project management, communication, change management) have been highlighted by the Academy for Sustainable Communities (ASC) as some of the generic skills within the overall skills gap, across all professions, which is posing a serious threat to the delivery of sustainable communities in the future.

Workshops are running throughout 2008 in easily accessible venues in Manchester and London. A discounted rate is available if you book two or more places across the series.

Bookings can be made now using the booking form for this series and provisional bookings can be made by telephone (contact Shelagh Pooley) or via our online provisional bookings facility.

Please note that each workshop can also be delivered on an in-house basis for individual authorities, either for a single department or for a group of staff from several departments. Please contact Suzanne Waldram for details.


Following the popularity of TRA's Workshop for Planning Committee Chairs & Planning Portfolio Holders, which ran twice in 2007 with maximum participant numbers and excellent feedback, we have organised two repeats of the workshop for 2008. The workshop will take place in Cambridge on 12 & 13 March and in York on 5 & 6 June.

The workshop looks at modern local authority structures and is aimed at the key players charged with making the structures work in the planning field, where policy development, scrutiny and other functions are separate. Authorities are tackling the issues in many different ways and the workshop provides an opportunity to compare approaches within the context of clear guidan ce on how local authority structures relate to the framework of planning law and good practice.

To book places on either workshop, please complete and return a booking form. To reserve places provisionally please contact Shelagh Pooley or use our online provisional booking facility.


The local authority practitioner's role in regeneration and development is a brand new workshop developed by TRA and aimed at both officers and Councillors/community leaders who are involved or interested in regeneration and the redevelopment agenda.

The workshop is aimed at all the disciplines involved in regeneration (not just planners!) and Councillors and those involved in LSPs or Parish Councils etc are also encouraged to attend.

The main aim of the workshop is to demystify what regeneration is, how to engage in the agenda, and how to kick start regeneration in areas where it either isn't happening effectively, or not at all.

The workshop has been developed and is being presented by Colin Walker, an experienced practitioner. It is being held on 1 April in Manchester, 17 June in London and 22 October in York.

If you would like to reserve a place on this workshop you can download a leaflet/booking form now. You can also reserve places provisionally by phone or using our online provisional bookings facility.


TRA is pleased to welcome two new members of staff, both of whom joined us at the start of this year.

Chris Weetman has joined TRA as Senior Planning Consultant. Chris was previously Development Services Manager with St Helens Council (and their DC Manager prior to that). He has also worked in DC for Wigan, Wyre, South Ribble, Blackburn and Chorley. Immediately before joining TRA, he spent 18 months working as a planning consultant in private practice. He will be joining our training and consultancy teams, specialising in DC and management issues.

Pat Green has joined the Bolton office team as an Administrative Assistant. She will be providing general admin support to the team, including work on course documentation, database maintenance and mailshots.


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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