ENews Issue - 31 August 2010

ENews - August 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:

  • Make sure your validation list is up-to-date and up-to-scratch
  • Formal and focused training for planning support staff
  • Planning: Beyond the Basics - a new workshop for Councillors
  • Don't miss latest Planning Support Staff Conference
  • Shared training: why not pool your resources?
  • Don't lose out on vital planning obligation income
  • New one-day workshop on Planning Enforcement in Practice




Make sure your validation list is up-to-date and up-to-scratch - 27/08/10

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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Formal and focused training for planning support staff - 27/08/10

TRA's certificated programme in Town Planning Support has now been running successfully for more than three years and the next opportunity to join the programme is coming up in October and November 2010. Full details of the programme, including feedback from previous participants, are available on our website.

The programme is modular, consisting of four modules, and the next one to run will be Planning Support, Planning Performance and Customer Care, on 6-7 October and 17-18 November. There are a few places available but prompt booking is recommended at this stage since places are strictly limited to 12. This module covers customer care; organising and managing planning support; monitoring planning performance; and managing information.

The other modules are:

  • Best Practice in Planning Support - 26-27 January & 10-11 March 2011
  • The Statutory Basis for Town Planning and Planning Support - 5-6 May & 8-9 June 2011
  • The UK Planning Framework and the Role of Planning Support within it - 5-6 October & 7-8 November 2011

The programme offers a unique opportunity for staff working in the crucial administrative/ support role within planning to develop themselves through focused training, tailored to their needs and relating to issues and experience in their own workplace, and at the same time work towards a formal qualification. In comparison with other qualifications that support staff may consider, and which cover a range of generic skills, the TRA programme is unique in its detailed consideration of the planning context in which staff are working and its focus on improving their knowledge and understanding of the planning system.

If you would like further information or to discuss whether the course would be right for you (or one of your staff) please contact Shelagh Pooley who will be happy to discuss things in more detail.

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Planning: Beyond the Basics - a new workshop for Councillors - 26/08/10

For Autumn 2010, we are launching a brand new in-house training workshop for Councillors. Planning: Beyond the Basics has been designed to complement our highly successful Briefing on Planning and The Role of Councillors workshops and is aimed at Councillors who already have a reasonable level of experience of town planning and an understanding of their role within the decision-making framework.

The fundamental aim of the workshop is to provide Councillors with a greater understanding of the environment, both built (listed buildings, conservation areas, advertisements) and natural (trees, hedges, landscape, protected species). It will explore how Councillors can become more positively involved in improved design through design briefs etc and help them understand how, through the use of legal agreements and charging, they can deliver new development for their locality.

The workshop will be available for delivery from October onwards and will involve two members of our experienced training team. If you are interested in finding out more we can provide further details now, including an outline programme. Please contact Angela Holmes without obligation. For details of our other training options for Councillors and comments from previous participants please visit our website.

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Don't miss latest Planning Support Staff Conference - 25/08/10

There's only a month to go until TRA's latest Conference for Planning Support Staff takes place in Manchester but it's not too late to book. Places are still available for this popular and well-established annual event (see below for comments from previous participants) but prompt booking is recommended.

The Conference is running on Tuesday 28 September at our city centre venue, just a short walk from either Manchester Piccadilly or Oxford Road railway station. The event has always offered excellent value for money and this year we have also introduced a new discount scheme to help your money go that little bit further:

  • 1 place = £165 plus VAT
  • 2 places = £155 plus VAT each
  • 3 or more places = £140 plus VAT each.

With new ideas for planning coming from the coalition government and major budget cuts looming, the next few years promise to be the most challenging phase in what is proving to be an extended period of change and reform. Support staff will continue to be essential in delivering an effective and efficient planning service and this Conference aims to help them understand both "the big picture" in terms of change and, more crucially, what it will mean in detail for them and the way they work.

Full details of the event, including topics and speakers, are available on our website where you can also download a PDF leaflet/booking form. If you would like to book more than 1 place and take advantage of the discounted price you will need to complete our special booking form. Provisional bookings can be made by telephone or via our online booking system.

Comments from previous participants:

  • As always the event was very informative and interesting. It is always good to meet and talk to people from other authorities, especially in the current climate. Wendy Cox, Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead.
  • Excellent event: very insightful and helpful in broadening my horizons as a relative newcomer to the role of Planning Technical Support. Simon Barlow, Wycombe BC
  • Really enjoyed it and learnt things. Informative and could relate it to my work. Made me questions and look at procedures. Julie Marson, South Derbyshire DC.
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Shared training: why not pool your resources? - 23/08/10

An approach to training which is becoming increasingly popular with many of TRA's clients is to organise in-house training jointly with neighbouring authorities. There are a number of benefits to this approach, not least affordability and cost-effectiveness. With training budgets being squeezed, sharing the costs with other authorities can make that much needed training course a far more affordable proposition.

With TRA, a 1-day in-house workshop for plannin staff costs from as little as £95 per person. If required, existing workshops can be tailored to meet your needs or, for a small additional charge, we can develop entirely bespoke workshops specificially for you. Our in-house training is administered by a dedicated team who make the process of commissioning training as simple and hassle-free as possible.

As well as the value for money benefits, joint in-house training also provides opportunities for neighbouring authorities to develop new working relationships and for local knowledge and experience to be shared.

Most people acknowledge that neglecting training and development when times are hard can prove to be a false economy; this is precisely when you need your staff to be working as effectively and efficiently as possible. But what if you're struggling to fund it? Shared training could be the answer....

If you would like further information on in-house training from TRA you can visit our website for details of the benefits/features and the topics available, or you can contact Angela Holmes without obligation to disscuss your requirements.

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Don't lose out on vital planning obligation income - 05/08/10

Research carried out recently by software company IDOX estimated that around 5% of the value of s106 agreements in England and Wales is being lost as a result of the complexities of managing planning obligations - and this could amount to an estimated £1.4 billion.

With large sums of money either owed to or still unspent by planning authorities, the effective monitoring of planning agreements is absolutely crucial if communities are to benefit fully from the infrastructure and development funding ear-marked for their area.

TRA's practical workshop on Effective Monitoring of Planning Agreements provides knowledge and good practice guidance for local authority practitioners involved in setting up or managing s106 monitoring arrangements. It is mainly aimed at planning and enforcement staff and specialist 106 officers but may also be of interest to others including legal officers, development officers from beneficiary departments, and corporate finance staff.

Specific aspects covered include:

  • the significance of monitoring and the level of finance/benefits potentially involved
  • the principles of planning agreement monitoring arrangements
  • the various mechanisms and models for monitoring and enforcing agreements and how to establish these (including software solutions)
  • techniques for monitoring the correct application of finance and benefits received
  • the costs of monitoring and how it can be paid for
  • the role of s106, CIL and tariffs.

Participants will come away with the key elements of an Action Plan to improve monitoring in their authority.

The workshop is next running at in London on 4 November 2010 and places are available. Further details, including a pdf leaflet/booking form are available on our website. Provisional bookings, which are recommended if you can't make a firm booking right away can be made by telephone or via our online provisional booking facility.

Other topics in our planning gain series include: Planning Obligations: paths through the legal maze and Financial Appraisal.

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New one-day workshop on Planning Enforcement in Practice - 05/08/10

For those of you involved in planning enforcement, we are introducing a new one-day workshop which takes a detailed look at the core elements of enforcement practice. Planning Enforcement in Practice: the core elements in detail is available now for in-house delivery for individual authorities or groups of authorities wishing to run training jointly. It will also be included in our 2011 inter-authority workshop programme when this is published later this year.

The workshop will be best suited to those who already have at least some experience of enforcement either as enforcement officers, planning officers or lawyers. For anyone who has previously attended our popular Basics of Planning Enforcement workshop (next running in York in September) this new session will be an ideal "next step".

The workshop focuses on the nuts and bolts of handling enforcement complaints: getting information to assess a breach; drafting a report on expediency; and considering the use of an enforcement notice. There will be an opportunity to look at what went wrong with some real notices and whether they could be rectified on appeal. For the time being, the workshop will also include a brief update on government proposals affecting enforcement.

If you are interested in the possibility of running this new workshop on an in-house basis please contact Angela Holmes for an outline programme and a no-obligation quote. Information on how we organise in-house training and its many benefits can be found on our website.

If you would like us to let you know when the dates for the 2011 inter-authority sessions are announced just email your details with a short note to promotion@tra-ltd.co.uk.

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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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