ENews Issue - 30 October 2009

ENews - October 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:

  • 2010 Training Programme - advance details now available
  • Could your authority manage better?
  • Anyone can join the Planning Admin Network
  • Obligations and Agreements training continues in 2010
  • Chris Weetman to speak at PAS regional event
  • In-house Planning training for Town and Parish Councillors
  • Positive outlook from Conference for Planning Support Staff




2010 Training Programme - advance details now available - 30/10/09

As promised in last month's ENews, advance details of TRA's 2010 training programme for planning and development practitioners in England and Wales are now available (the Scotland programme will be available soon). Full details will be on the website shortly but in the meantime, you can download a handy programme summary, giving you all the key information.

As ever, the programme covers a wide range of topics and continues to offer excellent value for money.

If you are on our publicity circulation list you will receive details of the 2010 programme automatically in the next few weeks. If you're not yet on the list but would like to receive details you can sign-up now.

Individual leaflets/booking forms for each event will be available via the website shortly but if you want to book a place on any of the workshops featured in the programme you can do so now using the general booking form or the discounted block booking form (to gain your 15% block booking discount). As always, you can also reserve places provisionally by giving us a call or by using the provisional bookings facility on our website.

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Could your authority manage better? - 26/10/09

Management - the art, the skill, the science of getting something done through others is absolutely key to success in local authorities, where corporate or community objectives clearly cannot be achieved single-handedly. But management is often misunderstood as a concept, especially by those who find themselves in the position of having to "do it", often without having had any formal management training.

That is why TRA recently developed a NEW Management Development/Training programme aimed specifically at planners and those in related disciplines. The programme is available for delivery exclusively on an "in-house" basis and has been designed to allow flexibility for individual authorities to choose which specific aspects of management they would like their training to focus on.

At an introductory level, we offer a single one-day workshop entitled Professionals Becoming Managers. This is an interactive workshop focusing on seven individual elements of managerial activity which, when brought together, provide an overview and basic understanding of the key concepts and skills needed to be a successful manager. At a more detailed level, we offer five one-day workshops, each one focusing on a specific element of modern management practice:

  • Supervision and Leadership
  • Negotiation Skills
  • Developing and Managing Teams
  • Personal and Organisational Effectiveness
  • Managing the Customer's Experience.

The workshops are delivered by Chris Weetman, TRA's Principal Planning and Management Consultant. Chris has considerable experience from a number of local authorities of handling a range of difficult management issues, including re-structuring services and disciplinary action. He is the key Course Tutor on TRA's Certificated Course in Management Concepts and Skills in Planning.

Further details can be found on our website, or you can also contact Angela Holmes, to discuss your requirements, without obligation.

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Anyone can join the Planning Admin Network - 23/10/09

You don't have to work in a planning support or admin role to be a member of PAN - the Planning Admin Network. As long as you are interested in the way in which the planning process is administered (in England, Scotland or Wales), then PAN is likely to be a useful resource for you.

PAN is an online network, co-ordinated by TRA and membership is free. The PAN website features a Discussion Forum, where members can post any queries or concerns and get help and feedback from other practitioners facing similar issues. Members of the TRA team, headed by Senior Associate Vivien Green, are also active in the Forum and can often provide useful pointers.

As well as the Forum, the website features a new monthly News Section, launched in August. For a limited period this was accessible to all but from October it is only available to PAN members. Since it's launch the News Section has included articles on:

  • the new application forms for extensions of planning permissions and non-material amendments
  • the first e-consultation hub connector
  • queries re the completion of the PSF return
  • the perils of neighbour notification
  • the planned review of the DC process in Wales.

It's quick and easy to join PAN - just visit the website and click on "Register" at the top of the Hompage.

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Obligations and Agreements training continues in 2010 - 22/10/09

TRA introduced a brand new workshop series in 2009, focusing on specific aspects of the framework of Planning Obligations and Agreements and their use. The topics have proved extremely popular and the response from participants has been very positive. We are therefore delighted to be able to continue with this series in 2010 and to be able to introduce an additional topic.

Frank Orr, Director of Top 50 law firm Dickinson Dees, will present a new workshop aimed at steering planners through the legal maze that is the Section 106 regime. Based on his considerable experience in both the public and private sectors, Frank will take a tour through the key theories behind Section 106 agreements and consider the practicalities and pitfalls of writing and modifying one. Coupled with a no-nonsense look at key legal principles and case law, this offers a 'must have' course for all those involved in Section 106 work. Planning Obligations: paths through the legal maze will run twice in 2010.

The other workshops in the series are:

  • An introduction to planning obligations and agreements
  • Effective monitoring of planning agreements
  • Financial appraisal for planning, development and regeneration staff.

A programme summary, showing the workshop dates for 2010, is available in pdf format for download. A general booking form is also available for download and bookings are now invited.

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Chris Weetman to speak at PAS regional event - 22/10/09

Chris Weetman, TRA's Principal Planning and Management Consultant, has been chosen to represent the RTPI at one of a series of regional events being organised by the Planning Advisory Service.

The focus of the session, which is being delivered jointly by the RTPI and CLG, will be on the key messages of Planning Together 2, the updated practical guide for local strategic partnerships and planners, issued by CLG in February 2009. Chris will be speaking at and facilitating the day-long event when it runs in Chester on 19 November.

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In-house Planning training for Town and Parish Councillors - 19/10/09

TRA is the UK's leading provider of practitioner-based training for Councillors involved in planning, and over the years, several of our District Council clients have extended the provision of this kind of training to their Town and Parish Councils - this has proved to be especially worthwhile.

Our most popular option for Town and Parishes is the half-day Briefing on Development Control.

The main aims of the session are:

  • to familiarise participants with the overall framework of the planning system and where development control fits into this
  • to explain the basic components of the development control process and where Parish/Town Councils fit in
  • to explain some key concepts of the development control decision-making process, to enable Parish/Town Councils to relate to these effectively
  • generally to clarify the potential for, and the limitation of, Parish/Town Council input.

Councils who have previously commissioned TRA to deliver this kind of training include: Allerdale, Arun, Bolton, Carrick, Cherwell, Colchester, Copeland, East Northants, East Lindsey, East Devon, North Kesteven and St Edmundsbury. More information including feedback from past attendees can be found on the website.

If you are interested in the possibility of arranging a training session or you would like to see an outline programme, please feel free to contact Angela Holmes without obligation.

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Positive outlook from Conference for Planning Support Staff - 15/10/09

TRA's latest Conference for Planning Support Staff was held at the end of September in Manchester. Many planning authorities are going through challenging times at the moment, but there were clear messages from the Conference that planning support staff have the skills, knowledge and determination to meet these challenges head on.

The achievements at Sunderland City Council demonstrate how one authority has been successfully turned round to become a top quartile authority with the coveted Customer Excellence Award, and an (almost) paperless office - case officers are only allowed a copy of the plans for the site visit.

The new unitary Cheshire East Council has had to cope with different working practices, processes and culture inherited from four legacy authorities. Through the sheer hard work and will of staff, the authority has succeeded in rolling out a unified system with public access across the authority, and in presenting and functioning as a united authority.

The key message from TRA's Chris Weetman about validation of applications and local lists was to be proportionate and keep the process smooth (a seamless operation) and simple (easy to read and relevant). TRA's advice to authorities is echoed by Killian Pretty and endorsed by government.

The Local Government Ombudsman gave examples of how authorities can assist by placing officer reports and site visit notes on public access. Another piece of advice - "don't lose the file!"

Some final advice from Lancaster City Council's Head of Planning, Andrew Dobson, is DON'T PANIC - all governments and the development industry need a functioning planning system. Have a plan; identify your best assets and keep them at all costs; abandon targets for now; and take the opporunity to merge ie through development management.

As always, feedback from participants was very positive:

  • Really enjoyed it and learnt things. Informative and I could relate it to my work. Made me question and look at procedures. Julie Marson, Support Services Assistant, South Derbyshire DC
  • Very informative and I have picked up many tips to take back to my office. It is also very interesting to see how some other places work. Helen Marshman, Planning Administrator, Homes & Communities Agency.
  • Time spent speaking to other conference attendees useful, swapping information and best practice. Christine Ingram, Technical Clerk, Calderdale MBC.

The 2010 Conferences for Planning Support Staff will be held in April in London and September in Manchester. Look out for further information in in due course.

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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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