ENews Issue - 25 September 2008

ENews - September 2008

TRA Silver Jubilee fast approaching - 25/09/08

In 2009, TRA will be proudly celebrating it's 25th Anniversary. Since its establishment in 1984, TRA has been providing training and procedural support to local government, and in particular to the planning service.

We are busy working on a number of ideas for activities and promotions to help us celebrate our Silver Jubilee. Hopefully, you will be able to take advantage of some of these, so watch this space!

Procedure Reviews and Procedure Guides for Planning in Scotland - 25/09/08

TRA has been providing a Procedure Review and Online Procedure Guide service for local authority planning services in England and Wales for the past 5 years. The unique online Procedure Guide system developed by TRA is now operational in more than 30 local authorities.

Thus far the service has focused on Development Control, although it has evolved over time to reflect the gradual move towards "Development Management" in England and Wales. In Scotland, however, things are moving much more quickly in this respect and TRA is now able to offer these services to assist Scottish authorities who are looking at procedures as part of the transition from Development Control to Development Management and the implementation of e-planning.

This expansion of our services will build on our experience of similar work in England and Wales and our considerable involvement with local authorities in Scotland through our well-established training programme. The consultants who would be involved are either based in Scotland or have direct of experience of the Scottish system through their work with TRA.

There are normally two stages to each assignment: a review of current procedures leading to recommendations for change, and the development of an online procedure guide reflecting the particular authority's structure and procedures alongside generally established good practice. The recommendations resulting from the review are extremely important and their implementation can have a significant impact on quality, consistency and speed. The Procedure Guide itself is a "system" rather than a fixed document, accessible via a private internet site, enabling the authority's own staff to use it and update it as appropriate at any time.

Basic details of our Review and Procedure Guide service, along with details of existing clients, are available on our website.

For those authorities not wishing or needing to undertake a full review of the service, we can also carry out smaller, more focused reviews looking at individual elements, such as enforcement organisation and procedures, procedures involving the Committee, front and back-end processing of applications etc. A full list of the sorts of areas we can cover in these reviews of specific aspects of planning can be found on the website, along with details of previous clients.

This element of TRA's support services for local planning authorities has become well-established south of the border and we are sure that similar work would be of significant benefit to those in Scotland currently experiencing considerable change in the provision of planning services.

If you would like to know more, please feel free to contact Penny O'Shea for further information and a no-obligation discussion.

2009 workshop programme being finalised - 25/09/08

We are just putting the finishing touches to the 2009 programme of workshops and updates for planning and development staff in England and Wales. Details will be posted on the website and circulated to our usual mailing contacts in the next few weeks.

As well as many of our most popular workshops, this latest programme will include workshops on three brand new topics:

  • Housing design and layout - Despite the raft of guidance, policy and legislation that has been brought to bear on residential development in recent years, the results on the ground are often disappointing.This workshop aims to pull together the various means by which planners and design officers can influence housing design and layout, helping to achieve distinctive, sustainable and life-enhancing places to live. There will be an opportunity to explore the market and cultural aspects and their effect upon design; look at well-known examples of best practice and consider their positive and negative aspects; and to share experiences and issues.
  • Design policy - Although there is high level support for design quality in new development, local and national policy can sometimes be inadequate or poorly applied. This workshop will review the policies that can be applied now and the guidance available to help influence design in new development; it will look at participants' experience of working with local policy/guidance; consider the way forward in the context of emerging LDFs; and explore the role and scope of Design SPDs, including consideration of some real-life examples.
  • Sustainable construction - Aimed at all development control staff who are involved with handling planning applications, including major applications, this practical workshop will explain how to understand the constraints of a site and reduce the water, waste and energy needs of a development; it will explore the tools available for negotiation, ways of overcoming potential barriers, and practical steps to make the application process efficient and effective.

If you are not yet signed-up to receive our publicity material directly, you can do so now via our mailing list page. It only takes a minute to sign-up, you can choose which categories of event you are interested in, and you will then receive information direct to your inbox as soon as it is available.

Planning training for Town and Parish Councillors - 24/09/08

TRA is well-known for its training workshops for Councillors involved in planning. Over the years, several of our clients have extended the provision of this kind of training to their Town and Parish Councils and this has proved especially worthwhile.

Most recently, in August, we delivered 4 half-day sessions on behalf of Carrick DC for Town and Parish Councillors in their area. Feedback from participants was very positive:

  • Very interesting and well put across. Thank you very much. Good information and clear handout documents. Nick Light, St Erme PC.
  • Very informative on the planning process, very knowledgeable on the subject. Kingsley Wright, Kenwyn PC.
  • Very well presented and the content was relevant and interesting. MCJ Collenette, St Clement PC.
  • An excellent workshop providing me with a great deal of fact and information in regard to planning. C M Tanyard, St Newlyn East PC.

Other District Councils which have commissioned TRA to deliver training specifically for their Town and Parish Councils include: Allerdale, Arun, Cherwell, Colchester, East Northants, East Lindsey, East Devon, North Kesteven and St Edmundsbury. We have also delivered a session organised directly by a Town Council - Tiverton in Devon.



The most popular option for Town and Parishes is currently our half-day Briefing on Development Control. This covers the basics of DC and how Town and Parish Councillors fit into, and can engage with, the process plus a crucial look at materia l considerations and their significance. An outline programme is available on request.



If you are interested in arranging similar training for Town and Parish Councils in your area or would simply like further information, please contact Suzanne Waldram.

Last chance to book on October workshops! - 24/09/08

The TRA workshop programmes are back in full swing following the summer break with a wide range of topics due to be covered in October. Many of the workshops still have a few places available and a selection of those which may be of particular interest are listed below:

Disease and Decay in Trees - 14 October, Preston

An Introduction to Planning for Building Control Staff - 21 October, Manchester

Negotiation Concepts and Skills for planning and development staff - 30 October, Bristol

Environmental Impact Assessment: a guide to the Regulations - 30 October, Bristol

Details on all these workshops including booking forms can be found by following the above links. Provisional bookings can be made by telephone or via the provisional booking form on our website, if you are not yet able to make a confirmed booking. However, we do recommend that prompt bookings are made at this stage to secure a place on any workshop you may be interested in.

Certification achieved for TRA's Environmental Management System - 23/09/08

We are delighted to announce that earlier this month, TRA received certification under the British Standard ISO 14001 which relates to Environmental Management Systems.

Details of our Environmental Policy Statement and Certificate are available on the website.

A significant element of our Environmental Management System (EMS) is the process of identifying, monitoring and minimising the impacts of our business operation on the environment. The areas that we are concentrating on in particular include:

  • reducing the carbon-footprint of our travel around the UK by using public transport wherever possible
  • recycling and reduction of waste to land-fill, and
  • minimising the emission of greenhouse gases, especially in relation to the day-to-day operation of our head office.

There are also several ways in which you, as our customers, can help us to achieve our environmental objectives:

  1. you can sign-up to receive our publicity material by email instead of by post - just visit the mailing list page on the website (this will help us to massively reduce our consumption of paper)
  2. if you are attending any of our inter-authority events, please travel by public transport wherever this is practical, or car-share if you are travelling with colleagues (we do our best to select venues which are accessible by public transport)
  3. again, if you attend any of our inter-authority events, please remember to hand in your badge (plus any unused hand-outs etc) to the receptionist at the end of the day for recycling (our badges can be re-used several times and it is important that we are able to do this)
  4. if you are looking for training options, you could consider asking TRA to deliver training for you on an in-house basis ie where we come to you (this is not only more environmentally friendly but it can also be more cost-effective).

Updates on amendments to Householder Permitted Development - 19/09/08

The amendments to the Permitted Development regime for Householders will come into force on the 1st October 2008 and this represents a significant change to the current system. TRA has put together a special half day update to assist your staff and Councillors with the forthcoming changes.

This half-day session can be delivered in-house either for staff (support, development control and enforcement) or for Councillors (especially those serving on planning/development control committees). If you would like to provide this update for both staff and Councillors, we can deliver both sessions in one day which would be particularly cost effective.

The training session will include:

  • the reasons for change
  • what has changed
  • what has not changed
  • some practical examples of householder developments.

If you are interested in running one or both of these sessions, please contact Suzanne Waldram on 01204 385678.

Lee Prebble addresses Councillors' Summer School - 08/09/08

Lee Prebble, one of TRA's Senior Associates, delivered a paper on Gypsies and Travellers to the recent RTPI Councillors' Summer School.

The presentation drew on Lee's experience of dealing with a number of gypsy and traveller cases over the past 25 years, both as a local authority DC officer and as a consultant working for local authorities. The two sessions delivered by Lee were well attended and, as might be expected given the topic, discussions were lively. Views were, to some extent, polarised with even a suggestion of "bigotry" referred to by one delegate.

If you are interested in this particular topic and would like to see what Lee had to say, you can download his paper and/or presentation. There is also a list of references/further reading at the end of the paper.

Lee delivers training for officers and Councillors on behalf of TRA and is a member of TRA's procedural consultancy team working on Development Control Reviews and Procedure Guides.

New workshops for Planning/DC Committees - 05/09/08

Following on from the success of our workshop for Planning Committee Chairs and Portfolio Holders which has run several times over the past couple of years, TRA has developed a short series of workshops for these key councillors. The first of these, entitled 'Good Practice for Planning/Development Control Committees', is running in York on 8 & 9 December 2008.

The way in which Planning Committees operate is highly sensitive since even quite minor procedural deficiencies can raise the possibility of decisions being challenged, and/or referred to Local Government Ombudsman and Standards Boards. Also it is not made easier by the fact that practice and procedures vary widely and are not subject to clear cut rules. The workshop aims to develop and disseminate best practice in this respect. It will draw on TRA's vast experience of training, advising and observing Planning/Development Control Committees.

Publicity leaflets are currently being circulated to our usual mailing contacts. Further details and a booking form can also be found on our website. Provisional bookings can be made by telephone or via the provisional bookings page of our website.

Three other workshops are being developed and will run in York and Cambridge in 2009 (dates to be announced shortly). These will focus on:

  • the interface between the Cabinet/Executive, the Planning Committee, and the planning system
  • effective planning enforcement and compliance
  • planning obligations/funding community needs.

Contact 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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