ENews Issue - 29 May 2008

ENews - May 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 just delivered a detailed Development Control Good Practice Guide commissioned jointly by all the planning authorities in Cumbria - Cumbria County, Allerdale, Barrow, Carlisle, Copeland, Eden, South Lakeland, Lake District National Park, Yorkshire Dales National Park. It sets out in detail the procedures and practice which authorities should aspire to (or avoid!), and is designed to serve as a template against which authorities can assess their own services, and possibly to go on and develop Procedure Guides.

The Guide reflects TRA's experience of good practice in planning authorities throughout the country, but is specifically related to issues in Cumbria. It covers all procedural aspects of DC, from pre-application discussions through to appeals and enforcement.

The TRA team on this assignment was Trevor Roberts, Stewart Glassar and Sue Glover, with assistance from Chris Weetman. Visits were made to all Cumbria authorities as part of the project. On 21 May, following completion of the good practice guide, Trevor Roberts gave a presentation on the work to about 40 staff from all the participating authorities.

TRA can offer DC Procedure Reviews and Procedure Guides and Procedure Reviews for individual elements of the planning/DC framework and details are available on our website. We are also happy to consider one-off tailored assignments such as this latest one in Cumbria. If you would like any information or to discuss your requirements in detail please feel free to contact Penny O'Shea without obligation.


TRA's considerable reputation is due in large part to the quality of the services we provide. In particular, we have always been keen to ensure that the quality of our training is maintained to a very high standard and, of course, improved on wherever possible.

Those of you who have attended TRA training events will know that we place a lot of importance on the feedback we receive from you via our evaluation forms. These are very useful to us in improving the content and delivery of our events. However, the feedback forms are just one of a number of tools we use as part of our Quality Control & Improvement Procedures.

Another important tool is trainer development and as part of this process, 12 TRA presenters (many of them relatively new or less experienced) attended an intensive Trainer Development Workshop in Cambridge in mid April. The programme included a mix of theory, discussion and practice presentations. Each presenter gave two presentation s during the two-day event and these were critically evaluated by their fellow presenters. The workshop enabled the individual presenters to review their own presentation/training skills and to plan their own continued developed and helped TRA by modelling good training practice and suggesting improvements to our approach.

Principal Director, Penny O'Shea, also attended the workshop and joined in with the exercises and presentations. "Because I'm not a trainer or presenter I was probably twice as nervous as everyone else about delivering a presentation myself but the workshop was a really positive experience for all those involved. Several of the presenters have been in touch with me since to say how much they got out of the session and how it has helped them in really tangible ways to improve their own performance."


TRA has recently undertaken a review/health-check of the administrative support function for the Planning and Building Control Services at Derwentside District Council. The assignment was handled by TRA's Chris Weetman, Senior Planning Consultant, and Stewart Glassar, Planning Manager.

The review focused on the management, procedures and staffing resources of the support unit, and how they relate to the Planning, Building Control and Land Charges Functions within the Council. The intention is that the outcome of the report and its recommendations will help to clarify the roles, responsibilities and understanding of staff, to improve their delivery of service both before and after impending local government re-organisation.

Administrative support is one of several distinct elements of the planning function whic h can be improved through a detailed review and implementation of the resulting recommendations. Other elements which can benefit from this approach include:

  • planning enforcement
  • Committee procedures
  • delegation schemes
  • the customer service interface and its organisation.

A full list of areas which TRA can focus on in similar reviews can be found on our website. If you are looking for ways to improve a particular element of your planning service and would like to know more about how TRA could help please feel free to contact Penny O'Shea without obligation.


A group of neighbouring authorities, led by the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, recently commissioned TRA to deliver its new one-day workshop - An Introduction to Planning for Building Control Staff - for them on an in-house basis. In addition to staff from RBWM, the workshop was attended by staff from West Berkshire, Slough, Wokingham, Reading and Bracknell Forest Councils.

Feedback from those who attended was positive, with comments including:

  • Very detailed and explained well. Workshops were good.
  • The course is an excellent introduction to the planning system.
  • Real life cases were very interesting.

The workshop is presented by Senior Associate, Lee Prebble and can be attended on an inter-authority or in-house basis. The next schedule d inter-authority workshop will take place on 21 October in Manchester. Places are available and can be booked now using the PDF booking form and places can be reserved provisionally by telephone or via our online provisional bookings facility. If, instead, you would be interested in TRA delivering the workshop in-house for your authority, perhaps in conjunction with other authorities (a great way to spread the cost), please contact Suzanne Waldram for further information.


TRA Senior Associate Jed Griffiths is a member of the RTPI Planning Policy and Practice Committee and has recently been given the Chair of its sub-group on Sustainable Communities. Lead items on the group's agenda are Climate Change and Eco-towns.

Jed is one of a number of TRA associates and presenters currently developing a series of training events around a general sustainability theme. Already available is the one-day workshop on Sustainability and the Planning Process delivered by Jed and Colin Blundel. The workshop is next being delivered in York on 23 October and can also be delivered on an in-house basis on request. Details of other workshops will be announced in due course.


May to July is traditionally a very busy time for TRA's Councillor training team as authorities look to provide basic training for their newly elected members. However, TRA also provides a large number of training sessions throughout the year for authorities which have not recently had elections and/or where the Planning/DC Committee is already fairly experienced.

These sessions are usually in the form of Briefings on Specific Aspects of Planning and an indicative list of topics can be found on our website. Particularly popular topics include:

  • planning enforcement
  • design considerations and the principles of urban design
  • sustainability and its link to the planning framework
  • updates on planning policies, PPG/PPS changes etc.

If you are interested in improving your Committee's knowledge and understanding of particular elements of t he planning framework and would like to know more about how we can assist, please contact Suzanne Waldram for further details.


Later this year, TRA will be introducing two brand new workshops - Delivering Economic Development Programmes and Delivering Urban Regeneration and Development Projects. They have been developed specifically for those working in Economic Development and Regeneration departments and people working in other areas of local government with an interest/involvement in economic development and regeneration such as Planning and Technical Services departments.

The government plans to bring local authorities to the forefront of regeneration and economic development activity in their areas. Local authorities are being encouraged to take the lead and plan positively for economic development and business growth. The government's Review of Sub-National Economic Development (SNR) promotes prosperity in all parts of England, stimulating economic growth and improving housing supply. The SNR sets out a numbe r of structural reforms including strengthening the local authority role in economic development and a new statutory economic assessment study.

Delivering Economic Development Programmes will look at the role of local authorities in developing economic developement strategies and programmes for their area. It will cover recent reforms including the introduction of powers for local authorities to raise and retain local supplements to the national business rate in order to fund economic development projects. It will also cover the new Community Infrastructure Levy and the proposed reform of local authority business incentives (LABI) which provides an opportunity to strengthen the incentive for local authorities to take a stake in the economic well being of their area.

Delivering Urban Regeneration and Development Projects explains the principles behind management of urban regeneration projects and provides an understanding of the regeneration processes and the implementation of good project management principles from inception to completion. It starts by looking at economic opportunities and then focuses on how to desgin successful regeneration programmes, including stakeholder consultation, programme delivery, and overcoming various barriers. The workshop is aimed at the various disciplines involved in delivering urban regeneration as well as members and community leaders (eg those involved in LSPs or Parish Councils) who are also encouraged to atend to help them explore the ways in which they can effectively assist in delivering successful urban regeneration.

Dates and venues for both workshops will be announced shortly. Both workshops will be priced at less than £200 per person. If you would like to be notified when more details are available, please email to promotion@tra-ltd.co.uk.


TRA recently developed a bespoke workshop on planning enforcement for staff working in the Western Isles (Comhairle nan Eilean Siar). Senior Associate, Vivien Green, travelled up to Stornaway at the end of March to deliver the workshop for a small group of staff.

The workshop was funded by the Improvement Service and was designed to assist enforcement and development management officers who needed to know more about enforcement or to refresh their knowledge. Crucially, the aim was to develop their confidence in dealing with the enforcement system. It began with the basic principles of what is development and permitted development before going on to look at what constitutes a breach of planning control and the tools available to staff to deal with unauthorised development.

The workshop was very well received and participant comments included:

  • Excellent information - very valuable training.
  • An excellent refresher course in planning enforcement and case law.
  • Very well presented.

If you think that training on enforcement would be of benefit to your authority or organisation and would like to know more about what we can offer please contact Suzanne Waldram. We are happy to put together bespoke courses to suit your needs.


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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