ENews Issue - 27 March 2009

ENews - March 2009

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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In this issue:

  • TRA assists new unitaries with Councillor training
  • Confusion over fees for conditions - update
  • 20th Anniversary of Forum on Enforcement
  • TRA bursaries for young planners - still time to apply
  • Latest TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff in April
  • TRA's new diagnostic review service launched
  • 2009 planning workshop programme now under way
  • New Forum on Urban Design - details now available




TRA assists new unitaries with Councillor training - 27/03/09

During February and March TRA delivered a number of training sessions for Councillors in three of the new unitary authorities coming into being on 1 April. In each case, TRA had previously provided Councillor training for at least one of the original constituent authorities and were invited back to help ensure that members of the new authorities were up-to-speed.

Four half-day briefings on the planning system were delivered for the new Durham County Council (made up of Wear Valley, Teesdale, Sedgefield, Easington, Durham City, Derwentside, Chester-le-Street and Durham County). Two full-days and two evening sessions were held in Cheshire West & Chester Council (Ellesmere Port & Neston, Chester City, Vale Royal and Cheshire County), looking at both the basics of the planning system and the propriety and good practice aspects of the Councillor's role. Two full-day Briefings were delivered for Cheshire East Council (Crewe & Nantwich, Congleton and Macclesfield).

Feedback on the training was very positive:

  • One of the best courses I have attended. Cllr Paul Taylor, Durham County Council
  • Having been 9 years a County Cllr, I learnt more today from this single session than I envisaged. Really good stuff. Cllr Jim Corden JP, Durham County Council
  • The presenters were knowledgeable and managed to retain my interest throughout the day. No mean acheivement considering planning can be a very dry subject! Cllr Rob Thompson, Cheshire West & Chester
  • Splendid. Clear, detailed and interesting. Cllr Brian Crowe, Cheshire West & Chester
  • The presenters were the best I have seen in all the training workshops I have attended. Well done. Cllr Don Stockton, Cheshire East
  • The workshop exceeded my expectations and made an immensely complex sea of legislation refreshingly accessible. Cllr Gary Barton, Cheshire East

TRA has also been commissioned to provide similar training in June for the new Cornwall Council.

For information on our Councillor training services in England & Wales or in Scotland please visit our website and/or contact Penny O'Shea for futher details.

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Confusion over fees for conditions - update - 26/03/09

In the January edition of ENews we highlighted a potential issue regarding the ability of planning authorities to levy a charge for dealing with conditions and our concerns that the legislation left authorities open to potential challenge.

Those of you who receive the Journal of Planning & Environmental Law (JPEL) may have noticed that in Issue 4 of 2009 our Planning Manager, Stewart Glassar, raised this matter in correspondence with the Journal's editor, Professor Michael Purdue. In his response to Stewart's letter Professor Purdue writes that: "In my view Stewart Glassar's view of the effect of the new amending regulations (the Town & Country Planning(Fees for Applications and Deemed Applications)(Amendment)(England) Regulations 2008) is correct." In the remainder of his response, Professor Purdue sets out his reasoning as to why he agrees with our interpretation.

In the light of this support for our stance, we would again suggest that authorities re-examine their approach to this issue and if necessary take it up with their own legal advisors - pointing them in the direction of JPEL if necessary. Whilst we have no desire to see authorities' fee income reduced still further in these difficult times, our approach is always to ensure that planning authorities are operating effectively and in accordance with the legislation.

You can read our previous feature on this matter in the January edition of ENews.

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20th Anniversary of Forum on Enforcement - 26/03/09

To mark the 20th Anniversary of the Forum on Enforcement (and the 25th Anniversary of TRA), the Forum held earlier this week was an "all-TRA affair" with speakers drawn from our extensive team of staff, presenters and associates.

Jed Griffiths, as Chair and also a member of the RTPI General Assembly, was in a unique position in being able to tell the Forum about the first ever assembly debate on the future of Planning Enforcement. Vivien Green, in a plenary session looked at the implications for enforcement of recent changes to Householder PD in England and proposed changes to PD in Scotland, England and Wales. Two of the parallel sessions dealt with practical issues: Mike Hyde on some of the problems of dealing with Certificates of Lawfulness and Chris Weetman on the perils of giving evidence at a public inquiry. The third session, given by Frances McChlery, looked at the implications of introducing Fixed Penalties instead of prosecuting for breaches of planning control, a new enforcement procedure which will come into effect in Scotland later this year.



Trevor Roberts, who is due to retire from TRA in June, gave a "farewell" address to the Forum. He reminded us that he set up the first Forum some twenty years ago when no one else even acknowledged the need to train Enforcement Officers. Then he reflected on the changing status of enforcement over the years, viewed through his own lifetime in planning, and from the perspective of its status within the profession.

With the benefit of hindsight, Trevor made the point that whilst planning is a long term strategic activity it can only become a reality by countless small steps, sometimes controversial, over a long period of time. He illustrated the point by referring to some of the routine day-to-day enforcement cases which make up what he called our "noble causes".

Trevor (pictured, left, with Jed Griffiths) has always been a great admirer of the works of John Ruskin and some years ago as President of the RTPI, he plagiarised Ruskin's "The Seven Lamps of Architecture" to define "The Seven Lamps of Planning". For this talk he felt it was also possible to identify the key characteristics that are needed for effective enforcement and so he explained his "Seven Lamps of Enforcement", illustrated by some interesting quotes from Enforcement Officers past and present:

  • The Lamp of Clarity
  • The Lamp of Tenacity
  • The Lamp of Courage
  • The Lamp of Diligence
  • The Lamp of Competence
  • The Lamp of Judgement
  • The Lamp of Obsession (but keeping your sense of humour!)

He concluded his interesting and lively talk with his thoughts on the direction that enforcement ought to take and the changes that other people will now have to continue the fight for. You can download his presentation.

The next Forum is scheduled for 27 October 2009 in Warrington. Details of the programme will be available during the summer but places can be reserved now for those not wishing to miss out.

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TRA bursaries for young planners - still time to apply - 25/03/09

In last month's ENews we announced that TRA has teamed up with the RTPI Young Planners Network to offer training bursaries to 25 young planners to celebrate our 25th anniversary year.

The bursary is in the form of a free place on our planning related one-day events in 2009 for young planners who are able to demonstrate a particular commitment to the work and development of young planners or who can demonstrate a need for training in a particular subject area. We are delighted to say that the response so far has been excellent and 18 of the 25 places have already been awarded.

If you are interested in applying, then fortunately there are still a number of bursaries up for grabs but they are awarded on a first come first served basis so don't delay. For full details of eligible events, terms and conditions, and to download an application form, please see our website.

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Latest TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff in April - 25/03/09

The TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff is due to take place in London on 30 April 2009 at our new venue, the MIC Hotel and Conference Centre.

This is the eighth consecutive year the event has been held in London, and this year the focus is on change in the planning service and what we can do to cope and better understand the processes. Trevor Roberts will be our final speaker of the day, in what will be one of his last events before retiring in June, and will review the special contribution of support staff in the context of change.

Additionally, other speakers will cover subjects such as CLG's push for an improving development management service and the Killian Pretty Review recommendations for a faster and more responsive system; and the sticky problems of interpreting recent changes to the householder permitted development regime.

There is still time to book places at the Conference should you or your colleagues wish to attend. A leaflet/booking form is available for download in a pdf format. Alternatively places can be reserved provisionally by telephone or via the provisional bookings page of our website.

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TRA's new diagnostic review service launched - 24/03/09

TRA has just launched a brand new diagnostic review service as part of its expanding portfolio of procedural consultancy services for local authority planning.

And, bearing in mind the current economic situation facing many authorities, the great news is that the service is being offered at a special introductory price for a limited period only.

A TRA diagnostic review examines how development management is organised within a client authority, with the aim of identifying any particular areas of concern or any specific aspects where a more detailed review could be most effectively focused (any subsequent work need not involve TRA). It covers all elements of the DM process and is focused mainly on the procedures involved, although it will also consider related aspects of structure and staffing to a limited extent. The output of the review would be a short written report and we would aim to handle each assignment within a month, and within two at the most.

Further details of the service, including a PDF leaflet, can be found on our website. For anyone commissioning a diagnostic review before the end of June 2009, we are offering a discounted price of £3,750 plus VAT. A new higher price will be introduced from 1 July 2009, so don't delay.

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2009 planning workshop programme now under way - 24/03/09

The TRA 2009 Training Programme for Planning and Development Practitioners got under way last week with the first workshop on Permitted Development taking place at our new London venue, the MIC Hotel and Conference Centre. This was the first of our events to take place at this new venue which was given an overall "thumbs up" by those who attended.

Further workshops are taking place in April and May both in London and at our other venues around the country. Some of these on which places are still available and which may be of interest to you or your colleagues are listed below:

Trees and the Planning Process - London, 23 April 2009

Negotiation Concepts and Skills for planning and development staff - York, 28 April 2009

Planning Conditions: a positive approach - Manchester, 7 May 2009

The Basics of Planning - Manchester, 7 May 2009

Being Effective at Enforcement Inquiries - Bristol, 12 May 2009

Further details on each of the workshops can be found by following the above links, where you will also be able to download a leaflet/booking form in a pdf format should you wish to book a place. Places can also be reserved provisionally by telephone or via our online provisional booking system.

Details of all the other workshops taking place in this programme can also be found on the website. With the wide range of workshops available, it is well worth considering taking advantage of our block booking scheme where you will receive a 15% discount when booking 6 or more places on any number of events across the programme - details of this can also be found on the website.

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New Forum on Urban Design - details now available - 12/03/09

In addition to the two successful forums already run on a regular basis by TRA on planning enforcement and planning support, we are introducing some new events this year on different topics, the first one of which will be a Forum on Urban Design. This one-day event is primarily aimed at practitioners in local authority planning and development departments who are interested/involved in urban design and want to sharpen up their skills, extend their awareness and stimulate ideas. We also expect it to be of interest to practitioners in related disciplines, Councillors, private developers, consultants and the voluntary sector.

The first Forum is due to take place at the Hilton Hotel, Sheffield on 3 June 2009 and the general theme is on improving the quality of urban spaces with a focus on designing for sustainability. In view of the worsening financial situation, there is also an emphasis on sound economics and the role of design in successful regeneration. We have assembled an impressive panel of speakers for this event and details of these can be found on our website. An important feature of the Forums is the valuable opportunity to exchange experience and knowledge with fellow practitioners in a structured but informal environment.

Bookings are now invited for this event and can be made using the downloadable leaflet/booking form. If you would like to reserve a place provisionally you can do so by telephone on 01204 385678 or by using the provisional bookings facility on our website. Details are currently being circulated to our usual mailing contacts by post or email.

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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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