ENews Issue - 31 July 2009

ENews - July 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.

View our contact Information or subscription information.

In this issue:

  • Planning Admin Network - a useful resource for staff in Scotland
  • Enforcement Forum - initial details available
  • TRA gears up for the first group of workshops for Local Review Bodies
  • More 25th Anniversary bursary winners attend events
  • TRA sees growth in shared training for planning staff
  • Make the most of your training budget with TRA
  • TRA welcomes new staff member, Angela Holmes
  • Latest TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff

Planning Admin Network - a useful resource for staff in Scotland - 30/07/09

Scotland's planning system is undergoing the most significant modernisation in over 60 years and The Planning etc. (Scotland) Act 2006 is a landmark piece of legislation. The main changes to development management will take effect from next Monday, 3 August 2009. These changes will affect planning application procedures, enforcement, and appeal procedures and bring in the new Local Review procedures. Although guidance for transitional arrangements has been issued by the Scottish Government, the changes are bound to lead to some confusion and throw up all sorts of practical questions as people begin to work with the new system.

Naturally, all TRA's workshops will be updated to relect the new procedures. An example of this will be our annual Planning Enforcement: an essential update, taking place on 17 September, which will look at "joining the seams" between the new procedures in DM and enforcement and will explore the new tools available, especially the Temporary Stop Notice.

Beyond this, an additional resource which could prove extremely useful for staff during this period of change is the Planning Admin Network (PAN), co-ordinated by TRA. Although originally developed mainly to assist planning administrative and support staff, PAN is open to anyone with an interest or involvement in the administration of the planning systems in England, Scotland and Wales. The network is operated online and features a Discussion Forum where members can post their queries or concerns and get help and feedback from other practitioners facing similar issues and, where appropriate, from members of the TRA team, headed by Senior Associate Vivien Green, whom some of you may have met on TRA training workshops.

PAN already has members from Scotland but we are sure that more could benefit from the network. Membership of PAN is free and registration is quick and easy - just visit the PAN website and click on "Register".

A brand new "News Page" is also soon to be added to the PAN website, with an accompanying Enewsletter circulation to keep staff up to date. In the meantime, if you encounter any difficulties in getting to grips with the new planning system in Scotland, we would encourage you to post your question on the PAN Discussion Forum and see if we or any of your colleagues out there can help.

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Enforcement Forum - initial details available - 29/07/09

TRA's next Enforcement Forum will take place on Tuesday 27 October in Warrington and the speakers have just been confirmed. Full details will be posted very soon so keep an eye on the website. If you are on our publicity circulation list, you will also be receiving details shortly.

We are delighted that Lord Colville, one of the Assistant Surveillance Commissioners, has agreed to talk to the Forum about the use of RIPA in enforcement work and highlight good practice. The other plenary session will be a legal update provided by Solicitor and TRA Senior Associate, Ian Kinloch. Enforcement is one of the most litigious aspects of the planning process and the smaller group parallel sessions will focus in more detail on some of the complex legal issues, with inputs from Andy Kirby, Senior Planning Inspector (Enforcement), and northern Barrister Jeff Clarke, who will look at pre-commencement conditions.

As always, the Forum will offer excellent value for money and and an invaluable opportunity to learn from, and share experience with, the speakers and fellow participants. Bookings can be made now and a number of places have already been reserved, many of them through our discounted block booking scheme (save 15%). Places can also be reserved provisionally by telephone or via our online provisional booking facility.

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TRA gears up for the first group of workshops for Local Review Bodies - 28/07/09

The new framework of Local Review Bodies (LRBs), whereby planning decisions can be reviewed by a panel of local Councillors, comes into effect on the 3rd August 2009. The Councillors involved will be put in very unfamiliar roles and training will therefore be essential (and is recommended by the Government in Circular 7/2009). TRA has developed two interactive in-house workshops and has already been commissioned by several authorities to deliver training in August for Councillors and others likely to be involved in LRBs. The workshops are delivered by experienced TRA presenters, Vivien Green, Frances McChlery and Sue Glover.

The first workshop, on key principles and practice, is a programme which can be run quickly to address immediate training requirements, provides an overview of what is involved and identifies key skills and knowledge that are required for members of the Local Review Body. Importantly it also deals with the probity dimension of being a member of this new body. The second workshop covers the practicalities of specific mechanisms in the new framework which put councillors in unfamiliar roles. The two workshops can be run consecutively, or the second can be organised subsequently as training needs are more clearly identified.

Demand for the training is high during August/September but if you are interested in arranging training for LRB's we have dates available from mid September onwards. For more information on the workshops please visit our Local Review Bodies web page, or download our PDF flyer.

To discuss your individual requirements please contact Penny O'Shea without obligation.

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More 25th Anniversary bursary winners attend events - 21/07/09

Several more of our bursary winners attended their chosen training events in June. The bursary scheme was established for the benefit of young planners and is one of the initiatives introduced to mark our 25th Anniversary. 25 free places on TRA events were up for grabs and were are delighted that all 25 have now been awarded.

Carly Hinde, Assistant Town Planner with White Young Green, attended our very first annual Forum on Planning Agreements:

  • "I had never heard of TRA before the event so was unaware of their work. The range of speakers and topics was particularly helpful, with both the private and public sectors represented, the legal, business and council perspectives, and the large and small scale projects. The event exceeded my expectations. I feel that I will be able to understand better the public/council perspective on major planning decisions."

Jennifer Thomson, Planning Assistant with North Lanarkshire Council, attended our new workshop on Certificates of Lawfulness in Glasgow:

  • "The course offered useful and relevant training in relation to improving practice and was mostly aimed at local authority staff, therefore not the type of training I would have expected a private company to offer. The speaker was very competent ... and the information required to actually assess a certificate of lawfulness and the procedure involved was covered in sufficient detail to allow me to feel confident assessing such an application."

Certificates of Lawfulness will run again in 2010 but can be delivered on an in-house basis in the meantime.

Sarah Wills, Urban Designer/Planner for DLA Town Planning Ltd, attended our workshop on Environmental Impact Assessment in Manchester:

  • "I was very keen to come away from the course feeling more confident when answering questions on the scoping process and requirements for EIAs in supporting planning applilcations. I now feel that I can provide a much more informed response to both clients and team members. It was a different experience to attending a larger conference and I think that a very strong aspect of the workshop is that the numbers are limited. This allows everyone to enter meaningful discussions around real case studies."

The Environmental Impact Assessment workshop is next being run in London on 8 December.

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TRA sees growth in shared training for planning staff - 21/07/09

TRA has been delivering training for planning and development staff on an "in-house" basis since 1990 and this element of our business has increased in scale considerably in the last five or six years. The advantages of in-house training are considerable and the benefits and features are outlined in more detail on our website, along with details of the workshops available.

An approach to training which is clearly becoming increasingly popular with many of our clients is to run training jointly with neighbouring authorities. In some cases, this is on a very informal basis, where authorities simply offer "spare" places to other authorities. At the other end of the scale, it is more formalised and TRA is commissioned via a County/Area-based Officer Group to provide a programme of joint training for the authorities in that area. Other times it is somewhere in between, with authorities just making the most of their informal links with their neighbours. Whatever the arrangement, we are happy to assist with this kind of shared training provision.

Counties where TRA has provided shared training recently include Surrey and Hereford & Worcester. We have developed and delivered a series of training events for Surrey Planning Officers Association on an ongoing basis since June 2007, so far delivering more than 15 workshops and we have recently begun a new series for 2009/10. TRA also delivered the annual training programme for Hereford and Worcester County and District Planning Officers Group in 2006/07 and 2008/09 and has recently been commissioned for the 2009/10 programme starting in September.

We are gradually building up a database of contacts for County/Area Groups who may be interested in organising shared training through TRA. If you are an organiser or member of one of these Groups and would like to know more, please email your details, without obligation, to promotion@tra-ltd.co.uk and we'll get back to you.

Alternatively, if you would just like some basic information on in-house training for your authority, you can visit the in-house section of our website or email/telephone us with your questions.

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Make the most of your training budget with TRA - 19/07/09

We all know that when money is tight, one of the first things to be hit in local authority departments is the training budget. But staff training and development is essential for organisations wishing to continually improve their services and to retain their employees; it should be seen as an investment and neglecting it can lead to major problems in the future.

At TRA, we have always offered high quality, practically oriented training at competitive prices and we pride ourselves on offering value for money. Below is a sample of prices (per person) for 2009 training events available for planning and development staff.

TRA Professional Workshop

Standard price


Discounted price* £177 TRA Professional Update/Conference

Standard price


Discounted price* £132 TRA In-house workshop

Standard one-day workshop from as little as


RTPI Conference Series (1-day events)

Non-member price


Member price £369 Cheapest price (when you book 25 places) £266 UWE Short Course Standard price £285 (no VAT)

* a 15% discount is available when booking six or more places at the same time across any number of events.

As you can see, TRA workshops are the least expensive and, we believe, the best quality events around. If you have attended our events in the past you will already be aware of this and we hope you will continue to support our training programmes. If you haven't used TRA for training before, take a look at some of the feedback from people who have, and why not give us a try?

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TRA welcomes new staff member, Angela Holmes - 18/07/09

We are delighted to introduce the newest member of the TRA team, Angela Holmes, who has recently joined our core staff in Bolton as In-house Training & Consultancy Co-ordinator.

Angela, born and bred in Bolton, lives locally with her husband Darren, a Sergeant Major in the Duke of Lancaster's Regiment, her two daughters Megan and Ashleigh, and Oscar the Bichon Frise!

After leaving school, Angela worked in a stock control/admin role for a distribution company for 6 years. She then moved on to a manufacturing company, where she worked for 10 years, progressing from Receptionist, through Customer Services and Sales, to dealing with Stock, Purchasing and Logistics.

Angela was recently made redundant following a company decision to consolidate the business. This gave her the opportunity to reassess her career path, and move towards something completely different where she can make the most of her varied skill set. Angela is thoroughly enjoying her role so far and looking forward to actively participating in the future success of TRA.

For details of who does what at TRA and who to contact visit our staff page.

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Latest TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff - 15/07/09

Details are now available to view on the website of our forthcoming 'Conference for Planning Support Staff' to be held in Manchester on 29 September 2009.

As always, the conference will involve general presentations and smaller group sessions on topics of direct relevance to staff involved in planning support. Aspects to be covered this time include:

  • advice from the Local Government Ombudsman from their experience of when things go wrong
  • how to identify and accept change requirements and how to bring colleagues, councillors and the public on board
  • enhancing the customer experience and improving performance through the Customer Excellence Award
  • achieving a simpler, fairer and more transparent process for validation of applications
  • how planning services must respond in these changing economic times when there is pressure for cutbacks and over-pressed staff

If you would like to attend the conference, a booking form can be downloaded from our website. Provisional bookings are recommended and can be made by telephone or via the provisional bookings page of the website, if you are unable to send a confirmed booking straight away.

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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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