ENews Issue - 30 April 2010

ENews - April 2010

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 carries out Review for Spelthorne BC
  • Bespoke workshops delivered for Kent planners
  • Network News proves really useful
  • Training workshops on Planning Obligations and Agreements
  • Certificated course - another chance to book for Negotiation Skills module
  • TRA Conference on Development Management - details now available
  • Grotton Revisited
  • Post Election Training for Councillors - A Reminder
  • Lord Colville of Culross




TRA carries out Review for Spelthorne BC - 30/04/10

Spelthorne Borough Council is the latest authority to commission TRA to review its Development Control/Management service. This particular assignment was carried out between November 2009 and March 2010 by a consultancy team consisting of Senior Associates, Lee Prebble and Vivien Green, and Principal Planning & Management Consultant, Chris Weetman.

Commenting on the Review, Spelthorne Chief Executive Roberto Tambini said, "I was very pleased with the way in which your Consultants addressed the Brief and kept to the agreed timetable. We shall now seek to turn the considerable number of recommendations into a prioritised action plan but one thing is for certain and that is that you have given us plenty to think about!"

This kind of Review has been undertaken by TRA for more than 30 local authorities, in many cases followed by the development of an Online Procedure Guide. Details of our Procedure Review service and a list of clients can be found on our website.

A TRA Review looks in detail at:

  • the authority's performance
  • its DC/DM procedures, with a view to improving both efficiency and effectiveness
  • the management, staff structures and resources/capacity of the DC/DM function.

In this case, the Review also took into account responses to questionnaires circulated by the authority itself to various stakeholders including Councillors, applicants and agents, and objectors, regarding their views on the service.

A review covers all aspects of the DC/DM process, from pre-application discussions, through the decision-making process, and as far as appeals and enforcement/monitoring. The output of the review is a detailed written report with justified conclusions and key recommendations for change. These recommendations are extremely important and their implementation can have a significant impact on the quality, consistency and speed of development control performance.

In many cases an authority will also commission an online Procedure Guide alongside a Review. The Guide operates using the unique online system developed by TRA. The content of each Guide is bespoke to the individual authority, incorporating an optimum mixture of established local procedures and generally established good practice. The Guide is a system rather than a fixed document, accessible via a private internet site, enabling the authority's own staff to update it as appropriate at any time.

As well as full-scale reviews of this nature, we can also carry out smaller reviews, focusing on particular elements of the planning process, and short Diagnostic Reviews of Development Management, aimed at identifying any particular areas of concern or any specific aspects where a more detailed review could be most effectively focused.

If you would like to know more about any of our procedural review services please contact Penny O'Shea for further information and a no-obligation discussion.

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Bespoke workshops delivered for Kent planners - 29/04/10

TRA has recently completed a series of seven half-day workshops developed especially for the Kent Planning Officers Group (KPOG) as part of their annual training programme.

Running courses jointly with neighbouring authorities, either through an existing network like this or just informally, can be an excellent way of providing the training you need. Many of our clients now organise training in this way - not only does it maximise cost-effectiveness but many find that their staff benefit immensely from the opportunity to share local knowledge and experience and build working relationships with colleagues from neighbouring authorities. Take a look at the key benefits...

The topics covered in the programme developed for staff in Kent were:

  • Implications of the Community Infrastructure Levy and compiling Infrastructure Plans - exploring the differences between the use of s106 agreements and CIL and highlighting the factors necessary for authorities to adopt CIL and include policies in the LDF.
  • Adapting to climate change - looking at how planning can make a real contribution to tackling the effects of climate change through LDF policies.
  • Applying eco-town principles to major developments - focusing on the key features of eco-towns, uing examples from the UK and abroad, to show how the principles of sustainable development can be applied.
  • Applying the Code for Sustainable Homes - outlining the criteria used to assess compliance, the effect these will have on the design of new dwellings, and the potential cost implications for developers.
  • Promoting mixed-use developments - examining the benefits and difficulties associated with mixed-use developments, especially in current market conditions; considering the various types of delivery vehicles which can be used; and discussing potential negotiating strategies.
  • Feasibility assessment of development sites to inform Strategic Land Availability Assessment - looking at issues around commissioning, conducting, using and justifying viability assessments at a strategic and site-specific level, with particular emphasis on using studies for policy making and justification, especially at examinations and appeals.
  • Provisions for renewable energy in major developments - focusing on the knowledge needed by development management staff in order to negotiate renewable and low carbon options for developments with more confidence.

If you would like further information on any of these workshops or would like to discuss the options for organising in-house training in your area, please feel free to contact Angela Holmes without obligation.

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Network News proves really useful - 29/04/10

Launched in August 2009, the News page available via the Planning Admin Network (PAN) has proved to be a particularly useful source of information for subscribers. It is packed with up-to-date information, especially concerning changes to legislation etc, and interesting articles on a range of planning-related matters and is updated and circulated on a monthly basis. Its content is co-ordinated by TRA Senior Associate Vivien Green, who some of you will have come across in the past.

If you are interested in how the planning system is administered (in England, Scotland or Wales) then PAN News is likely to be of value to you. To have access to PAN News you need to be a member of PAN but membership is completely free and it only takes a minute to sign-up online (see below). Members are notified by email each month when the latest issue of PAN News is available and can access the News page online at any time. You can view a PDF copy of the April 2010 issue to give you an idea of the content.

The Planning Admin Network was established by TRA in November 2006 as part of its ongoing commitment to providing learning and development opportunities for those working involved in the administration of the planning system. The network operates entirely online and also features:

  • a Discussion Forum where you can post queries or concerns and get help and feedback from other members
  • a Useful Links page which signposts other websites we think are helpful.

To find out more you can visit the PAN website. To join PAN now just click here. If you have any queries or comments about PAN please contact Angela Holmes.

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Training workshops on Planning Obligations and Agreements - 27/04/10

A number of places are still available on the workshops running in May and June as part of our series of training workshops on Planning Obligations and Agreements. The workshops are being repeated this year following their successful introduction in 2009, and the series also sees the introduction of a brand new workshop on the legal aspects of Planning Agreements. Comments of participants who attended the workshops last year include:

"Excellent. I am quite new to the role of S106 Officer and the workshop showed we are heading in the right direction, but was really helpful and informative about what else we need to do to improve and become a best practice Local Authority." Laura Sharman, Doncaster MBC (Effective Monitoring of Planning Agreements workshop)

"Excellent. Managed to cover lots of areas, provided thought provoking topics and some excellent solutions." Robert Rimmer, Chorley Borough Council (Effective Monitoring of Planning Agreements workshop)

"It dealt with matters that are relevant to my job and gave me a good insight into the development market and where I can find out more information. The knowledge will help me in future negotiations with developers." John Gunn, Tamworth Borough Council (Financial Appraisal workshop)

Dates and venues for the forthcoming workshops are:

Effective Monitoring of Planning Agreements - Manchester, 20 May 2010 (and London, 4 November 2010)

Financial Appraisal - London, 25 May 2010 (and York, 24 November 2010)

Planning Obligations: paths through the legal maze (NEW) - York, 10 June 2010 (and London, 13 October 2010)

If you would like to attend any of these workshops, a booking form is available from the website via the above links. Alternatively, if you are not able to send a confirmed booking straight away, you can reserve a place provisionally, either by telephone or via the provisional bookings page on our website.

This series is part of a whole package of events introduced by TRA relating to Planning Obligations and Agreements. Details of other services available on this topic can be found on our website.

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Certificated course - another chance to book for Negotiation Skills module - 26/04/10

Due to circumstances beyond our control we have had to postpone the start of the next module in our Certificated Management course; the one focusing on Negotiation Concepts and Skills for planning and development staff. The good news, however, is that this provides an extra month in which to secure your place should you wish to attend. The module will now take place on 7-8 June and 26-27 July at Madingley Hall, Cambridge.

Although contained within the Management course, the module is equally applicable to planning or enforcement staff and as such also counts towards the Certificate in Planning Enforcement. Some comments are included below from participants who attended the module last time. Aspects covered in the module include:

  • the context of negotiation: time factors, information, the planning organisation
  • the concept of commitment in negotiation
  • when not to negotiate
  • different approaches eg win/win, win/lose etc
  • techniques associated with different types of negotiation
  • power relationships and their implications for negotiation
  • the personality dimension of negotiation, its uses and limitations.

Understanding the concepts of negotiation will continue to help me in negotiating situations in the future. It will enable me to listen to others and be prepared to meet people half way if that achieves the majority of what is needed. Neil Costen, Planning Enforcement Manager, Basildon DC.

I was surprised at how important preparation is and I now feel more equipped to enter into negotiations, using the toolkit that was provided in the module. The course was very useful in identifying the various dimensions of negotiation, such as personality type and visual clues. Ray McMurray, Principal Planning Officer, South Cambridgeshire DC

If you are interested in attending the Negotiations module please contact Shelagh Pooley as soon as possible to reserve your place. Shelagh can also provide information on our Certificated Courses as a whole (Management, Planning Enforcement, and Planning Support).

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TRA Conference on Development Management - details now available - 22/04/10

Further to the article in last month's newsletter, details have now been finalised for TRA's brand new Conference on Development Management. The Conference will take place on 7 July 2010 in Manchester, and is aimed at professionals in the public and private sectors with a specific interest in improving the delivery of planning outcomes.

Development Management requires a proactive approach to shaping, considering and delivering development proposals. Although the Government sees DM as being LPA led, the private sector also has a significant part to play in shaping how LPAs move towards a more proactive and engaging regime. The Conference aims to improve awareness of how LPAs can move towards development management including both the process and procedural changes that are required and the changes that will be needed in the culture of local authorities and the planning process as a whole.

The programme will include four main Speaker Contributions and two Facilitated Workshops, offering the opportunity to get to the heart of the issues and share experience with fellow participants.

Contributors at the event include:

  • PHIL KIRBY, Immediate Past President of the Planning Officers Society and Director of Strategy at Broadland DC
  • KATH LAWLESS, Head of Development Management at Newcastle City Council and a TRA training presenter
  • HEATHER MORRISON, Senior Development Control Planner at Copeland DC
  • COLIN WALKER, Head of Planning and Economic Development at Newark and Sherwood DC
  • CHRIS WEETMAN, TRA's Principal Planning & Management Consultant
  • VIVIEN GREEN, freelance Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate.

Further details of specific topics to be covered at the Conference are available on our website via the above link, or you can download a pdf leaflet/booking form. Bookings can now be made by returning a completed booking form, or you can reserve a place provisionally by telephone on 01204 385678 or via the provisional bookings page of our website.

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Grotton Revisited - 22/04/10

Many ENews readers (especially the more "mature" among you) will know that David Kaiserman, one of our Senior Associates, has a particular knowledge of the planning authorities of the former Metropolitan County of Grotton. The County was abolished in 1986 but the five Districts and an un-metropolitanned County live on, and with the help of David, Chris Shepley and Steve Ankers, their heroic attempts to make sense of the planning system are about to be revealed.

"Grotton Revisited" is published by Routledge in conjunction with the RTPI and will be launched at the RTPI Planning Convention in June. It has already received great reviews from people such as John Gummer, Nick Raynsford and Sir Peter Hall (who said "Loved it - I almost had to be resuscitated").



TRA is sure that the publication will be required reading for officers, councillors, developers, architects, students and anyone connected with planning. As Prof Michael Hebbert of Manchester University has put it: "the funny thing is, it's no joke".



If you want to know more, follow: http://www.routledge.com/books/details/9780415546478/ - or go to Amazon for a pre-publication discount!

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Post Election Training for Councillors - A Reminder - 21/04/10

"The LGA endorses the good practice of many councils which ensures that their members receive training on the planning process when first serving on the planning committee. It also recommends that members be updated regularly on changes to legislation or procedures. Such training is essential for those members involved in making decisions on planning applications and on local development documents. Authorities should provide training on the planning processes for all members." Local Government Association, Probity in Planning (2009)

For some authorities local Council elections are just around the corner and we would like to remind those of you who are considering providing planning training in the coming months about the importance of booking early to ensure that your Councillors don't miss out on one of our extremely popular in-house training sessions.

We can respond to various training requirements, providing individual bespoke sessions as appropriate, but particularly popular in the post-election period are our one-day sessions:

  • A Briefing on Planning for Councillors - covering planning procedures and policies, and focusing especially on Development Management
  • The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice - covering issues such as conflicts and declarations of interest, material considerations, lobbying, and making the decision.

The Training for Councillors section of our website provides some further information and answers the most frequently asked questions. We generally ask for around 4-6 weeks to arrange Councillor training but will aim to accommodate clients wherever possible thanks to our large team of experienced presenters. Please note that demand is very high in the period immediately after the elections and therefore we would highly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to fix your date and avoid any disappointment. A number of authorities have already avoided the rush and booked their training days - so don't leave it until the last minute, contact us today!

To arrange a booking, or to see an outline programme without obligation please contact Angela Holmes.

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Lord Colville of Culross - 20/04/10

We are very sorry to report that Lord Colville, Assistant Surveillance Commissioner at the OSC died earlier this month. Those who attended TRA's Enforcement Forum in October last year will no doubt remember his enlightening talk on the RIPA provisions and the advice he offered to help Enforcement Officers work within the provisions should the need arise.

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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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