ENews Issue - 28 September 2010

ENews - September 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:

  • Trees workshop extended to cover landscape and ecology
  • Great feedback on Planning Admin Network
  • New event calendar on TRA website
  • Vivien Green addresses Councillors' Summer School
  • We can help you prepare for your DPD Examination
  • The new consolidated Development Management Procedure Order
  • Update on the latest TRA Forum on Enforcement




Trees workshop extended to cover landscape and ecology - 28/09/10

It is often said that there is a vacuum of knowledge among planners when it comes to trees and, in particular, what information they should be asking for or how best to phrase conditions in relation to trees. These difficulties can lead to delay, confusion, extra costs and sometimes a less than satisfactory outcome.

TRA has offered a one-day workshop focusing on trees and planning for many years and this has recently been revised and extended. Some brand new elements have been introduced that give the workshop a more holistic approach to the subject matter to help officers become more effective during pre-application discussions or when dealing with applications or handling conditions. As well as looking at the issues of tree retention and protection, the workshop now also covers issues of landscape assessment and ecology. This will give participants a better appreciation and understanding of the issues and techniques used in these areas, including how to make the most of Phase 1 habitat surveys.

Trees, Landscape & Ecology for planners is prepared and presented by Sharon Hosegood, a practitioner with many years' experience in both the public and private sectors. At a time when officers are regularly being told that the viability of a scheme cannot support the local authority's request for extra planting or surveys, the workshop will look at the client/consultant role and in particular how much tree, landscape or ecological surveys or works actually cost (and sometimes this is less than the applicant would have the authority believe).

As before, the workshop enables participants to get out and about and undertake a mock survey, putting their newly acquired skills into practice. Whilst the workshop won't turn participants into tree officers (and this is definitely not the aim) it will give them greater confidence when dealing with applicants and agents, in turn enabling the authority to make more effective use of any existing arboricultural resources.

The workshop is running in Manchester on 23 November 2010 and places are available. If you would like to attend you can download a pdf booking form via the link above or reserve a place provisionally by telephone or via the provisional booking facility on our website.

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Great feedback on Planning Admin Network - 27/09/10

In a survey of members of the Planning Admin Network (PAN) carried out in July/August, 88% of those who responded consider PAN to be a useful information resource, including 12% who scored it as excellent. Two thirds of respondents use the network at least once a month, including 20% who use it at least once a week.

Originally set up in 2006 as a network for Planning Administrators, PAN has evolved slightly over time to focus more on the way the planning system is administered in general, something which makes it equally useful to staff in other planning roles. Recent promotion of the network has focused on encouraging a wider cross-section of staff to join and the survey suggests that this is now beginning to happen. As might be expected, when asked which category best described their job, 72% of respondents chose the "support staff" category, including support team leaders and managers. The remaining 28%, however, included senior planners, DC/DM managers, enforcement officers and planning obligations officers.

90% of respondents have used the Discussion Forum, one of the key features of PAN. Most people tend to keep an eye on the Forum and read any threads that are of interest to them but around a third have also replied to a thread or started a new thread of their own. The Forum is proving to be a really useful way of exchanging information and experience, with some threads receiving hundreds of views; a recent thread on applications for non-material changes to planning permissions was viewed 490 times and attracted 20 replies.

Another key feature is the PAN News page and 88% of respondents said they found this useful. PAN news is packed with 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.

So, if you haven't yet joined PAN, why not give it a try and join now (the process is quick and membership is free). We are particularly keen to increase the number of members from Scotland and Wales; PAN news regularly contains articles specifically relating to Scotland and Wales so you certainly won't feel left out.

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New event calendar on TRA website - 24/09/10

To make it even quicker and easier to find a TRA training event to suit you, we have recently added a new event calendar to our website.

TRA's events are generally organised into "programmes" and, until now, all our events have been listed on the website under these individual programme headings. This makes sense and is ideal if you know what you are looking for or if you want to narrow your search down a bit, and you can still search this way if you prefer. But if you just want to be able to see at a glance all the events we have coming up, then the event calendar lets you do that (and it's handy to print off for future reference too). If you spot a workshop or conference title that looks interesting you can click on it for further information.

So why not take a look at the calendar now; there are still plenty of events left in 2010. We are also currently putting together the 2011 programmes and details will be available shortly.

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Vivien Green addresses Councillors' Summer School - 24/09/10

Vivien Green, one of TRA's Senior Associates, was invited to deliver a workshop for Councillors at the Elected Members' element of this year's Planning Summer School in York. Amongst other things, Vivien is TRA's enforcement expert and the subject of her talk was: Delivering the Permission and Enforcing the Conditions.

Since imposing conditions can tip the balance between an approval or refusal, Councillors and those who have contributed to the application process might reasonably think that "someone" is making sure the permission is "faithfully implemented". While England awaits the Localism Bill, Vivien looked at how Development Management in Scotland has given Councils legal powers to develop a compliance culture, with enforcement as the backstop to deal with those who try to "get away with it".

Vivien argued that for the local community anywhere in the UK (whatever you call the approach), what happens on the ground is surely one of the key elements on which the success of the planning process is judged. She explored the lessons from Scotland; what she and others hope will be in the Localism Bill; and what needs to be done if it is not. Finally, she considered what can be done in the meantime and in the face of pressures to make drastic cuts in Council budgets. Vivien's presentation is available for download.

Vivien's workshop was delivered twice and was well attended and well received, with compliance and enforcement being subjects close to the hearts of all elected members. There was plenty of positive feedback with many delegates saying "you have given us lots of food for thought" and "there are things we need to talk to our officers about".

Several Councillors also expressed an interest in having Vivien come along and speak to their Committee about enforcement or to provide some training for their officers; something she does for TRA on a regular basis. This kind of in-house training can be tailored to the needs of the authority and depending on what is required can be delivered over a half-day or a full-day. If you think this may be of interest in your authority (or indeed as a joint exercise with neighbouring authorities) please feel free to contact Angela Holmes to discuss your requirements without obligation.

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We can help you prepare for your DPD Examination - 21/09/10

If, at some stage your authority is looking at submitting development plan documents to the Planning Inspectorate for examination, you might want to learn more about our in-house training workshop that focuses specifically on this process.

TRA has successfully delivered in-house training on Examinations of Development Plan Documents (DPDs) for several authorities across England, since 2007. See a list of our previous satisfied clients and some participant feedback.

The aim of this highly practical and extremely popular workshop is to provide anyone who is about to be involved in a DPD Examination with a better understanding of the system; what it is designed to achieve; and crucially, how they personally can participate in the process effectively. It provides participants with practical skills and information to assist them and their authority when they attend their own examination.

The morning session explores the nature of the examination process, the roles of the different participants, and how the Inspector will run the examination itself. The afternoon session is devoted to a mock examination exercise in which participants have the opportunity to play an active role. This enjoyable and worthwhile exercise provides an insight into how an Inspector is likely to approach the procedural elements of the examination and how he/she will seek to assess the soundness of the particular DPD concerned.

The workshop can accommodate a maximum of 20 participants and is delivered by two of the TRA presenting team. Jed Griffiths is a Senior Associate of TRA, member of the RTPI Council and Management Board, and has been personally involved in a number of examinations including the examination of the East of England Plan. John Mattocks is an experienced Planning Inspector and has been at the forefront of developments in the examination of DPDs, issuing one of the very first reports under the 2004 Act; finding the Lichfield Core Strategy unsound. He is also a member of the RTPI's Development Plans Network Steering Group.

If you are interested in organising in-house training on Examinations of DPDs or you would like more information, such as an outline programme, please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

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The new consolidated Development Management Procedure Order - 21/09/10

You may be aware that the government has delivered on its promise to consolidate all the amendments of the Town and Country Planning (General Development Procedure) Order 1995 into one document; and The Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order 2010 has now been laid in Parliament and will come into force on 1st October 2010.

Naturally, this change will be reflected in all TRA workshops as appropriate and one forthcoming workshop in particular will include specific coverage of the change and its implications for those who work with the order on a regular basis. The Essential Elements of Support for Planning and Listed Building Control, covers validation, calculation of fees, notification and consultation requirements, and the scaling and reading of plans, and will now also focus on introducing staff to the working/changes of the new consolidated order. The workshop is next running in London on 14 October 2010 and places are available.

Supporting the Processing of Planning Applications, another popular TRA workshop for support staff, will also touch upon the changes to the order. Next running in York on 25 November 2010, this workshop is for experienced planning support staff and aims to develop their knowledge and understanding of the different requirements involved in the processing of planning applications.

If you would like to reserve a place on either of these workshops, you can download a booking form from our website by clicking on the relevant link above, or alternatively you can make a provisional booking by telephone on 01204 385678 or via the provisional bookings facility on our website.

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Update on the latest TRA Forum on Enforcement - 16/09/10

Bookings for the latest Enforcement Forum due to take place in Warrington on 21 October 2010, are going well - so well in fact, that to cope with the higher than expected level of attendance we have now added an extra speaker to the event, who will be leading a third parallel session in addition to the two previously advertised.

Mark Turner, a Senior Planning Officer at Wokingham Borough Council will be discussing 'Expediency', focusing particularly on expediency reports, delegated decisions and the risk of maladministration in the eyes of the Ombudsman if a proper audit trail is not recorded. Details of the other contributors and topics being covered have previously been publicised and are available to view on our website. They include:

  • The implications for enforcement of the Government's document Open Source Planning
  • A Legal Update
  • The use of Section 106 Agreements as an effective enforcement tool
  • Preparing for an Inquiry

If you still wish to book your place at the Forum, there are some places still available however prompt booking is recommended. A booking form can be downloaded here, or alternatively you can make a provisional booking to reserve your place, using the provisional bookings facility on the website.

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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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