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 provided consultancy services to local planning authorities for many years, with a particular emphasis on improving management, performance and procedures, mainly through our reviews of development control and online procedure guides. A relatively new extension of our work in this area is a "complaints review service".
The service aims to assist local planning authorities who are currently dealing with a complaint (either internal or external) or who need to review a specific procedure or set of procedures in the aftermath of a complaint. Sometimes, it may not be appropriate for the matter to be reviewed internally, either to ensure transparency or simply because there is a lack of knowledge about planning procedures elsewhere in the authority. Similarly, it may not be something that the Local Government Ombudsman will wish or be able to investigate. Yet, in order to maintain the integrity of the LPA, and provide peace of mind for the local community, a review is needed to help prevent a repetition of the problem.
Complaints often relate to questions of procedural flaws, mismanagement, or even misunderstanding of planning law. TRA has the expertise and experience to recognise/diagnose any or all of these, and our knowledge of both planning procedures and local government practice means that we are uniquely placed to offer an informed yet impartial service which will provide robust and realistic recommendations.
If you are currently dealing with a complaint or need to review matters following a complaint, please contact Penny O'Shea, without obligation, to discuss how we might be able to assist you.Back to top
With our extensive experience and expertise in the planning process, TRA is ideally equipped to explain the "mysteries of the planning system" to non-planners who regularly interact with the system. A better understanding of the basic principles would help many to engage more effectively with the planning system and an increased understanding amongst those proposing developments and other stakeholders will be key in the move towards Development Management.
We can provide contextual briefings on planning (along the lines of "An Introduction to Planning") to suit specific audiences, including:
Training would be suitable for all staff in Housing Associations, but especially senior staff and those on the development side. To many involved, even those with a lot of experience, the system operates in a rather "mysterious" fashion. The session would aim to demystify it, and to assist Associations relate to it more effectively and more productively, in order to achieve their objectives more completely and more quickly.
other organisations which interact with planning eg as consultees, major landowners etc.
We also offer training on a variety of topics for Agents and Applicants. Many local authorities have established liaison arrangements with local agents and regular applicants and already run, or would like to run, briefing and training sessions so that they can understand aspects of the planning system better and be more effective in their engagement with it. TRA can put its experienced training team at the disposal of local authorities to carry out this kind of briefing session, thus eliminating the need for time-consuming preparation on the part of busy local authority staff, and also guaranteeing a professional presentation by people familiar with briefing others on the planning system at the local level.
If you would like further information on any of these training options, please contact Angela Holmes.Back to top
To better suit the needs of students currently on our Certificated Management course running at Cambridge, we have made some changes to the order in which the next few modules will run.
As originally planned, the next module to run will be Negotiation Concepts and Skills, in May and June 2010 (and there are few places still available). After that, the order will be:
Further details on each module can be found using the links above. If you would like any more information on any of these modules, or on the certificated programme as a whole, please contact Shelagh Pooley.Back to top
TRA regularly responds to consultation papers issued by central government and other organisations. The combined experience and expertise of TRA and all its Associates and Presenters makes us ideally qualified to comment on proposals for change in relation to the planning system.
The most recent consultations we have responded to include:
We recently began publishing our responses in the Advice and Opinion section of our website, under Consultation Responses, for you to view. There are several already available, including the latest two mentioned above, and we will add future responses as they are produced.Back to top
Madingley News is a regular section of ENews, which offers a way for people who have taken part in TRA's Certificated Courses to keep in contact with us and each other. We are keen to keep in touch so please let Shelagh at TRA know if you have any news.
Congratulations to Dave Smith from Daventry District Council who has recently been elected to Technical Membership of the Royal Town Planning Institute. Dave was awarded the Certificate in Planning Enforcement in August 2009. Technical Membership recognises the contribution made by skilled and experienced enforcement, technical or administrative staff to planning, and those elected to this class can use the designation "TechRTPI" after their names.
Emailing Shelagh to tell her the good news, Dave says, I have just been notified that I have been elected as Tech Member RTPI. I feel this is in no small part due to the excellent enforcement training headed by Vivien Green and supplied by TRA. Please accept and convey my thanks for all the good works from all at TRA, not least yourself always being available and willing to assist with all enquiries.
We are aware that several other students from the enforcement programme have gone on to achieve RTPI Technical Membership (and we have included the details in previous newsletters) but we are currently trying to develop a definitive list. If you have been awarded the Enforcement Certificate and are now "TechRTPI" please do let us know as soon as you can - contact Shelagh.
Information on Technical Membership is available on the RTPI website.Back to top
Details have now been finalised for the latest Conference for Planning Support Staff to be organised by TRA and can be viewed on our website. This is the ninth annual conference to be held in London and it will take place on 29 April 2010. At TRA, we work to support all staff contributing to planning service delivery; something that is even more necessary in a period of change and uncertainty, with huge challenges ahead. The conference will address new areas of practice, as well as day to day issues.
Subjects to be covered during the day include: a look at the future of planning - both the bigger picture, and in more detail about what it means at grass-roots level; how one authority has coped with the demands of service improvement and what we can learn from their experiences; the new approach to pro-active planning and how to progress from "Development Control" to "Development Management"; and a brief look at how you can benefit from being a member of the online Planning Admin Network (PAN) and the popular certificated course for planning support staff.
Places can be booked using the pdf booking form available to download from the website via the above link. Alternatively, places can be booked provisionally by telephone or via our online provisional booking facility.Back to top
Reducing the amount of publicity we send out by post is a key objective in our Environmental Management System and to achieve this we need all our mailing contacts to agree to receive our publicity via email. Most of our contacts are now signed up for e-publicity but there are still a few of you out there receiving postal mailshots.
If you are still receiving our mailshots by post, we would strongly urge you to sign-up for e-publicity now. The easiest way to do this is to complete our mailing list sign-up form. The sign-up form also gives you the opportunity to choose the broad topic areas you are interested in. It will only take a few moments and, as well as saving valuable resources, it will mean that you'll receive our information direct to your inbox, rather than waiting for it to be circulated around the office. Your help with this would be very much appreciated.
If you work in an authority with local elections coming up in May 2010, you may be considering organising some post-election training in the planning system for your Councillors. In-house Councillor training is one of TRA's most popular services for local authorities and has been for many years. We are the leading provider of practitioner-presented training for councillors involved in planning and have provided training for more than 180 local authorities in England, Scotland and Wales. A list of our clients can be found on our website, along with feedback from previous participants.
A number of Councils have already booked their training days with TRA but we do still have a reasonable amount of availability at this stage thanks to our large team of presenters. However, since demand is usually high in the period immediately after the elections, we would highly recommend that you get in touch as early as possible to avoid disappointment!
Our two most popular workshops, especially for new Councillors, are A Briefing on Planning for Councillors, which covers planning policy and procedures, principally in relation to development management and The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice, which tackles tricky issues such as conflicts and declarations of interest, material considerations, lobbying, and decisions contrary to officer advice.
For more information, or to see an outline programme please contact Angela Holmes without obligation.Back to top
One of the keys to TRA's success over the past 25 years has been the solid reputation we have built up. This reputation is based on the fact that we provide both quality services and value for money and it has grown over time thanks to the many clients who have felt comfortable in recommending us, allowing us to publish their feedback, or simply suggesting that colleagues take a look at what we offer. You can't beat "word of mouth" as a promotional tool!
Naturally, if you are able to recommend TRA from personal experience that is much appreciated. But even if you haven't yet tried out our services for yourself but can see that they may be of interest to people you know then there are still ways in which you can help spread the word.
If you spot something on our website that you would like to pass on to a colleague you can make use of our "Email Page" function. You'll find this towards the top right hand corner of each page (with a little brown envelope icon). Clicking on this allows you to enter the name and email address of the person you would like to send the page to and gives you space to write a short message to go with it. They will then receive an email from TRA saying that you have suggested they take a look at that particular page. Simple!
In a similar vein, if you know someone who may find this ENewsletter of interest then please do forward it on. If they like what they see, they can subscribe straight away - there is a box right at the bottom of the newsletter where they simply enter their email address to receive their own copy of TRA ENews in future.Back to top
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