ENews Issue - 28 May 2010

ENews - May 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:

  • Improving managerial skills for planners
  • Still chance to book on workshops running in June!
  • Support Staff Bursaries: winners start attending events
  • TRA makes the Skills Pledge
  • Place Identity: brand new hands-on workshop
  • Struggling with the move to Development Management? TRA's conference can help
  • Need assistance with the review of your local list?
  • Catch up with ENews




Improving managerial skills for planners - 28/05/10

Getting the most out of local authority staff and resources, through enhanced management skills and practice, is going to be the key to achieving quality outcomes at a time when financial constraints mean an increasing need to "get more from less". Spending a relatively small amount of time and money now on developing and/or updating management skills could be one of the best investments you could make, both for the short and the long term.

TRA offers a contemporary programme of one-day Management Development workshops specifically designed for planning and development staff which can be delivered on an in-house basis for one or more local authorities.

The workshops available are:

  • Negotiation Skills
  • Negotiating Financial Agreements
  • Creating, Managing and Inspiring Teams
  • Managing and Leading Professionals
  • Managing the Planning Customer's Experience
  • Managing the Development Process
  • Presentation Skills for Planners.

As well as the usual benefits and features you would normally expect from in-house training, TRA's management development programme incorporates:

  • training designed specifically to meet the needs of local authority planners
  • workshops incorporating up-to-date examples and case studies from LPAs across the country
  • applicability to both those already in management positions and aspiring managers
  • scope for tailoring of the training to meet the specific needs of individual client authorities
  • an interactive and relatively informal format to encourage participants to get involved and get the most out of the training.

If you would like further information on any of the individual topics or the programme as a whole you can visit our website and/or contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

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Still chance to book on workshops running in June! - 27/05/10

A number of places are still available on training workshops running in June in both our England and Scotland programmes, offering a last minute opportunity to book.

We have 2 workshops running in Manchester on 17 June:

  • Negotiation Skills: the key to achieving planning goals and objectives

    Having an awareness of both the principles and techniques of Negotiation, coupled with experience, can make a formidable difference to an officer's effectiveness. This workshop focuses on persuasion and influencing skills; when to negotiate and when not to; approaches; "tricks" and techniques; power and the personality dimensions.
  • Sustainable Construction

    This recently developed workshop aims to answer the fundamental question of what "sustainable development" means for development management and the planning application process. It provides an understanding of sustainable construction techniques that can be applied to a range of developments and the methods of achieving the concept.

and 2 workshops running in Glasgow on 15 June:

  • Planning enforcement: an essential update

    This workshop is designed for anyone with an interest in planning enforcement. Each year the workshop focuses on a different and relevant topic and this time it will be "Changes of Use". These can pose many problems for Enforcement Officers from investigation through to determing whether or not there has been unauthorised development. The workshop will be concentrating on understanding, investigating and defining a material change of use.
  • Processing Agreements and Good Neighbour Agreements: new tools for development management

    The Planning etc (Scotland) Act 2006 provided two important and completely new mechanisms intended to support better development management. This recently developed workshop will explain the basic underlying principles for making these agreements; deconstruct the legislation; and review any relevant guidance and cases.

Further details and booking forms for these workshops can be obtained from our website by clicking on the relevant link above. Provisional bookings can be made to reserve places by telephone on 01204 385678 or via the provisional bookings page of the website. There is still time to take advantage of our block booking system by booking 6 or more places over any number of workshops on either the England or Scotland programme, which will earn you a 15% discount on the normal event price. Details of other workshops in the programmes and block booking forms are available on the website.

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Support Staff Bursaries: winners start attending events - 26/05/10

April and May saw the first of TRA's Support Staff Bursary winners taking part in their chosen training events. The bursary scheme was established for the benefit of planning support staff and 20 free places at TRA events in 2010 were available through the scheme. We felt that support staff in particular have been suffering from the recent squeeze on training budgets and we were keen to provide access to relevant training opportunities that might not otherwise be available.

The bursary scheme was set up in conjunction with the Planning Admin Network (PAN) which provides information and support for all those involved or interested in the administration of the planning system. PAN membership is open to individuals and is completely free - see the PAN website for more details.

As promised, we will feature feedback from the bursary winners as they attend their events throughout 2010.

  • Emma Nasta, Technical Support Manager with Fenland District Council, attended our Conference for Planning Support Staff in London. Emma has attended a number of TRA events before.

    "It met my expectations in that there were updates in terms of the changes in the future of planning (spatial planning) and the concept behind development management. Have always been more than impressed by any TRA training I have attended.

The Conference for Planning Support Staff runs twice each year in England, once in the south and once in the north. The next conference is scheduled for 28 September 2010 in Manchester.

  • Tania Jacobs, Technical Officer with South Gloucestershire District Council attended our workshop on Permitted Development

    "My knowledge of PD, I thought, was fairly sound. However the additional information gained was impressive. The most useful part was actually understanding the basics ie what is development. Obviously very experienced presenter with excellent planning knowledge. Course felt very informal and flexible, shown by interaction with the group.
  • Andrew Wray, Planning Assistant with Welwyn Hatfield DC, also attended the workshop on PD

    "The course was current, relevant and extremely useful for officers who work with the legislation as an everyday part of their job. I feel better prepared to tackle the challenges the GPDO poses now that some of the ambiguity surrounding it has been cleared. The presenter clearly had a vast knowledge on the subject and spoke clearly and concisely to help the group wade through what can be very complex topics."

The workshop on Permitted Development is next running in Manchester on 23 November 2010. It is also one of a number of workshops that can be delivered on an in-house basis for an individual authority (or group of authorities jointly). Please contact Angela Holmes without obligation for information on in-house training options.

If you would like to learn more about the various training options available for planning support staff, please see our website for information on our inter-authority training, in-house training, and our Certificated Course in Town Planning Support.

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TRA makes the Skills Pledge - 25/05/10

As an organisation which specialises in providing training opportunities to other organisations and their staff, TRA is naturally convinced of the benefits of training and development, both for the organisation and the individuals concerned.

As an employer, TRA encourages and supports training for its own staff and has processes in place, including through an appraisal scheme, for identifying and delivering training which will help us to achieve our individual and shared objectives. As part of this commitment to training and development, TRA has recently "made the skills pledge". The Skills Pledge is a government initiative whereby organisations make a public commitment to enable their staff to gain the basic skills and competencies that are valuable in supporting business needs and their future employability, and to achieve relevant qualifications to recognise those skills.

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Place Identity: brand new hands-on workshop - 24/05/10

Reinforcing "local distinctiveness" is a high priority in national planning policy but defining exactly what this is can be difficult for both developers and local authority planners. This brand new workshop identifies the qualities of place that define local distinctiveness and helps participants to develop the critical awareness and analytical skills needed to make good design decisions and to negotiate effectively.

The workshop is highly practical and incorporates a two-part field exercise, using the immediate townscape around the workshop venue in order to demonstrate and develop the skills and methods involved. Interactive sessions provide an opportunity to work together and learn how to communicate the complex and subtle elements that define place and local distinctiveness.

The workshop was developed and is delivered by Timothy Crawshaw and recently ran for the first time on an in-house basis for staff at Sevenoaks District Council, where feedback was very positive:

  • Good overview and insights into a formal methodology for categorising Place Identity.
  • The workshop did break down the elements of what gives a place an identity. This was useful in terms of relating new development to a wider context. It was also useful to look at a familiar place and assess it against a new set of criteria.
  • It helped to focus my mind on what can make a place unique or different to another place and how even the smallest detail can help achieve this.
  • Good degree of both theoretical background mixed with practical interpretation.

We offer a range of Urban Design related workshops on both an in-house and inter-authority basis and details can be found on our website. Sevenoaks also ran our popular Basic Principles of Urban Design workshop in advance of the session on Place Identity.

If you would like further information on the new Place Identity workshop, or any of our other in-house design workshops, please contact Angela Holmes without obligation.

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Struggling with the move to Development Management? TRA's conference can help - 24/05/10

Development Management requires a much more proactive approach to shaping, considering and delivering development proposals. TRA's brand new Conference on Development Management 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 Conference will take place on 7 July 2010 in Manchester.

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 and so this conference is aimed at all professionals in both the public and private sectors with a specific interest in improving the delivery of planning outcomes.

The programme includes 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.

The four key Contributors are:

  • 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.

The facilitated workshop sessions, looking at cultural changes and process/procedural changes respectively will be led by CHRIS WEETMAN, TRA's Principal Planning & Management Consultant, and 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. Booking for the Conference is going well but there is still time to reserve your place. Bookings can 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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Need assistance with the review of your local list? - 17/05/10

All local planning authorities in England are required to review their local information requirements lists (often referred to as local lists or validation lists) and ensure that an up-to-date version is published on their website by the end of December 2010. This requirement is set out in the Development Management Policy Annex: information requirements and validation for planning applications and the supporting Guidance, both published by CLG on 16 March 2010.

Through our procedural reviews and training, TRA has long advocated and encouraged the concept of "front-loading" of the application process so that all necessary information is provided to the LPA by the applicant at the start of the process. Since 2008, we have assisted a number of authorities in reviewing and improving their local list to ensure that it is tailored to their particular circumstances and provides clear guidance to applicants, and we continue to offer this service for any authority that needs assistance in light of the current requirement to review.

Each requirement on the list needs to be reviewed to ensure that it meets five key principles set out by government, including "necessity", "precision" and "proportionality". For those authorities with well thought-out and reasonably up-to-date lists this should not be too onerous. But for those whose local list has not received any attention for some time or who have not yet prepared a local list, the process is likely to take up valuable staff time which could be more urgently required elsewhere. If needed, this is an area where TRA's experienced consultancy team is ideally placed and qualified to assist.

The service we offer includes a comprehensive review of the existing local list and a report summarising any changes we would recommend (or, indeed, preparation of a list if one does not exist). Our website provides more information on what would be involved and anyone interested should feel free to contact Penny O'Shea without obligation.

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Catch up with ENews - 15/05/10

If you've missed a recent issue of ENews or have only just subscribed to the newsletter then don't forget that previous issues of the TRA monthly newsletter can be accessed via our website. Just visit the Newsletter Archives page to catch up.

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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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