ENews Issue - 16 September 2005

ENews - September 2005

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 recently completed a review of the enforcement function in Kerrier District Council in Cornwall. The review focused on current procedures and processes; the staff structure and management of the service; the interrelationship with legal services; and a number of specific issues/problem areas identified by the authority. This particular assignment was carried out by TRA's Planning Manager, Stewart Glassar and Senior Associate Vivien Green. The review culminated in a formal written report with justified conclusions and appropriate recommendations for change.

Although our more usual DC Review assignments are more extensive than this and are usually linked to the development of an Online Procedure Guide, we are able to undertake a variety of more limited reviews focusing on specific aspects of planning and development control. The sort of areas we can cover include:

  • organisation of planning se rvices overall

  • development control support

  • receipt, registration and validation

  • consultation and notification

  • delegated and Committee reports - quality, structure and preparation

  • development control management and monitoring systems

  • management and staff resources

  • delegation schemes and their improvement

  • planning enforcement

  • appeals procedures

  • Committee procedures

  • quality of planning decisions

  • quality management systems

  • systems for assessment of development control quality

  • the customer service interface and its organisation.

  • A brochure providing further details will be available shortly but in the meantime if you are interested in any of the above please feel free to contact Penny O'Shea.


One of the most popular workshops in our main inter-authority workshop programme is The Basics of Planning for Administrative Staff. As a result it is very often fully subscribed and you may find it difficult to secure a place. However, you could consider asking TRA to run it for your authority on an in-house basis. We are happy to do so for individual authorities or for a group of neighbouring authorities where sufficient numbers of people are interested in taking part (usually between 10 and 20). The workshop runs in a single day when organised in-house (as opposed to its usual day and a half format).

This workshop has recently been delivered on an in-house basis for South Staffordshire Council, Alnwick District Council and neighbouring authorities, and Kirklees MBC:

The basics of planning was presented in a clear and straightforward manner, making it easy to follow and digestible - James Barker, Kirklees MBC

Informative and not boring! A good course and useful for all abilities - Alan Turnbull, Berwick BC

If you are interested in arranging a similar in-house workshop please contact Sharon Collier. Our website provides details of both our inter-authority and in-house training programmes for planning support staff.


In addition to our two main in-house workshops for Councillors, A Briefing on Planning for Councillors and The Role of Councillors in Planning: probity and propriety issues, we can also provide sessions covering a variety of other topics. Although these are mainly intended as follow-ups for existing client authorities it is sometimes possible to run them for new clients.

A particularly popular example at the moment is a one-day update on the Planning System and Local Development Frameworks. Essentially, the morning provides an update on recent changes in planning, focusing particularly on the Planning & Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 and Planning Policy Statements. The afternoon concentrates on LDFs, looking at the new Development Plan system; key features of LDFs; Development Plan Documents; and where Councillors fit in to the process.

If you would like further information about this session or our Councillor training in general, plea se contact Sharon Collier. Details of the courses available can be found on our website under Training for Councillors.


TRA is planning to combine two of the most popular elements of its training portfolio to form a unique and exciting new training course - the Certificated Course for Planning Support Staff.

TRA has been providing training for planning administrative and support staff, in the form of workshops and an annual conference, for the last fifteen years and acknowledges the crucial role they play in delivering the planning service. For the last eight years, we have also been providing accredited training courses, in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, in Planning Enforcement and in Management Concepts and Skills in Planning. We are now looking to combine the two concepts in order to provide an accredited course for support staff.

The training will take place at Madingley Hall, Cambridge (the base for the University's Institute of Continuing Education) an d will be organised in a modular format similar to that of the two existing certificated courses. It will take some time to develop the course and have it accredited by the University so we are aiming to begin running modules in early 2007.

Over the years, through our training and consultancy work, we have developed useful contacts with lots of people working in planning support and we would be very interested to have input from staff themselves while we are developing the course. We will be undertaking some market research in due course but we would be very interested to hear from you if you have any suggestions for the sorts of topics you would like to see included. Feel free to email any comments or suggestions to Stewart Glassar.

We have also set up an emailing list which we will use to send out information about the course and possibly to ask for peoples' opinions on its proposed coverage. If you would like to subscribe to this emailing list (only occasional emails will be sent) please click here and choose the appropriate list.


We are looking for a specialist in development control (and DC support in particular) with an interest in/experience of training to join our team of Associates. If you are working at DC Manager or Team Leader level and looking for a possible change of direction this could be for you.

The work would involve:

- acting as a Tutor on a new certificated course for planning support staff to be run in conjunction with the University of Cambridge (we already run similar courses in Planning Enforcement and Management Concepts and Skills)

- delivering training workshops on an inter-authority and in-house basis for development control staff including support staff

- being part of TRA's team of consultants conducting Procedural Reviews of Development Control and developing Online Development Control Procedure Guides.

We are looking f or a fairly sizeable commitment of time and this is not something which could be undertaken by someone with a full-time job. You would most likely need to be working part-time or considering becoming freelance. Depending on your circumstances, your involvement could be arranged on an assignment by assignment basis (subject to an agreed min/max amount); on the basis of a regular retainer; or possibly as part-time employment. You would need to be available to work away for up to three days at a time and to travel to any part of the UK. We would suggest that you have a browse around our website to get an idea of the sorts of things we do.

We are basically inviting initial expressions of interest at this stage. If you think that this opportunity might suit you please email a few details of your background and why you feel you would be suitable to jobs (please don't ring). We will consider all responses but it may take some time to follow these up so don't worry if you don't hear anything immediately.


An updated version of the TRA Online Procedure Guide for Development Control, based on improved and more user-friendly software, is now up and running in a number of authorities. Arrangements are currently being made with clients who have had a Procedure Guide in operation for some time, but using Version 1, to transfer their Guide over to the new improved system.

Procedure Guides for Development Control are now operational in 15 client authorities with three further Guides due to be handed over at the end of September.

Each Guide is bespoke and tailored to the individual authority but a demonstration version is available to get an idea of the scope and structure of the Guide.

Some basic information on this service is available on our website and if you would like any further information please contact Penny O'Shea.


Trevor Roberts is currently advising on an RTPI/Department of Health research project on housing for an ageing population. The project builds on the work previously carried out by an RTPI working group, chaired by Trevor Roberts, which examined the implications of the ageing population for spatial planning policy and practice. The resulting report, Planning for an Ageing Population can be seen on the RTPI website.


The programme for our latest Conference for Planning Support Staff has now been finalised. The Conference will take place on Monday 21 November in Manchester and details have recently been circulated to our usual mailing contacts. Please click here for details of topics and speakers, venue, cost etc.

TRA has been running an annual conference for the last 14 years as part of its portfolio of training events designed for administrative and support staff working in planning. The event acknowledges the crucial and integral role of support staff in delivering the planning service and provides participants with an ideal opportunity to exchange information and examples of best practice with colleagues from other authorities.

Last year's event attracted over 80 participants from all types of authority and we are hoping that this year's event will be equally successful. Early booking is strongly re commended.

Please get in touch if you would like a leaflet/booking form. To make a provisional booking (to reserve your place immediately) please contact Shelagh Pooley or use the provisional booking facility on our website.


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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