ENews Issue - 25 November 2010

ENews - November 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.

View our contact Information or subscription information.

In this issue:

  • Time to invest in your Management Skills?
  • Take our survey and win a free training place
  • Excellent turnout for TRA's latest Enforcement Forum
  • Development Management Update in Scotland
  • Catch up with ENews via the archive
  • TRA conference outlines the challenges and opportunities for support staff
  • Don't miss out on discounted planning training for Councillors
  • Understanding Viability - a training workshop for planners
  • TRA Training Workshop Programmes 2011 now available to view!
  • Still receiving TRA publicity by post? - sign up for email now




Time to invest in your Management Skills? - 24/11/10

Getting the most out of staff and resources is going to be the key to achieving quality outcomes at a time when financial constraints mean an ever increasing need to "get more from less".

Despite planning budgets being under extreme pressure, spending a relatively small amount of time and money now on developing and/or updating management skills could well be one of the best investments to make for both the short and long term.

TRA's programme of one-day in-house Management Development Workshops are aimed specifically at those working in the planning and development field and can be arranged for individual authorities or for groups of neighbouring authorities working jointly (the latter of which can be the most cost effective way to deliver training).

There are numerous benefits of running an in-house Management Development training session such as the scope for sessions to be tailored to the specific needs of client authorities; workshops that incorporate up-to-date examples and case studies from LPAs across the country; applicability to both those already in management positions and aspiring managers; plus all of the other benefits that you would normally expect from in-house training.

The workshops available in the series are:

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

(Please note that all of the above-mentioned sessions are included in our limited 10% price discount offer - visit the website for more details).

For further information on the Management Development training series, including outline programmes, please contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

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Take our survey and win a free training place - 24/11/10

We are currently conducting a survey on training and development for those involved in planning. If you haven't yet completed our short online questionnaire why not do it now? Your responses will remain confidential.

One lucky respondent chosen at random will receive a free place on one of TRA's one-day events in 2011 for themselves or one of their colleagues. If you want to be entered into the draw (and only in that case) you will need to provide an email address but we promise not to use this for any other purpose and we won't contact you about anything you say as part of the survey.

Thanks in advance and feel free to forward these details to any of your colleagues who might be interested in completing the survey. Complete the TRA survey now.

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Excellent turnout for TRA's latest Enforcement Forum - 23/11/10

TRA's ever popular Enforcement Forum ran at the end of last month in Warrington and we were delighted to see so many people in attendance despite the squeeze on funding. 90 people took part and some of their feedback is included below.

Planning Enforcement is the most litigious part of the planning process, so a Legal Update is always a popular part of this annual Forum. This year, Andrew Dobson, Head of Regeneration and Policy at Lancaster City Council, gave a practitioner's view of some of the key enforcement cases of the last 12 months and was able to relate them to day-to-day enforcement issues.

Delegates then had a choice of two out of the three parallel workshops. Mark Turner, Senior Planning Officer at Wokingham BC, led a lively session dealing with the key enforcement concept of "expediency" and how to write good enforcement reports. Rob Duff, Partner with Pegasus Planning Group in Bristol, looked at preparing for Enforcement Inquiries: what to put in evidence and - equally important - what not to say; and how to present this evidence to best effect. Until this Forum, many enforcement officers might have thought that s106 Agreements were used only in support of planning applications but TRA Senior Associate Lee Prebble was able to demonstrate that they also have many practical uses in the enforcement field.

To end the day, Vivien Green, TRA Senior Associate, posed the question "What will localism mean for compliance and enforcement?". She examined what is known about localism and highlighted the Government's commitment to seeing vigour put into taking enforcement action, including giving LPAs new enforcement powers. In the context of the Comprehensive Spending Review and rapidly changing planning policy she noted that Councils have been told that they will "need to use some of their planning resources freed up in a streamlined system to increase their enforcement capabilities". She therefore urged delegates to keep an eye on what is included in the forthcoming Localism Bill and be prepared to lobby if it doesn't cover all that they were hoping for. This is the opportunity to secure the compliance culture and recognise the vital work of enforcement officers as an integral and vital part of the planning process (not an after-thought). & nbsp;

Examples of participant comments:

  • In terms of content and presentation, the Forum can't be beaten. Sue Taylor, Barnsley MBC
  • Each lecture/speaker was delivered for the right amount of time and therefore kept my interest. You were confident that they had experience and therefore could relate well to each topic and could empathise with situations and working practices. Louisa Burton, Eden DC
  • Another excellent informative event. Well done! Karen Morville, Burnley BC
  • Good topics, excellent speakers, another well-run TRA event. Andrew Dudley, Melton BC
  • Yet again have picked up some useful tips to put into practice. The review of recent case law is always useful. Adam McNally, Eden DC

The next Forum is scheduled for 20 October 2011 in Warrington and, for those who don't like to miss it, places can be reserved now.

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Development Management Update in Scotland - 22/11/10

A number of places are still available on the workshop Development Management Update due to take place on 2 December 2010 at the Novotel Hotel in Glasgow, offering a last minute opportunity if you wish to book a place.

The workshop will provide a clear guide to dealing with planning applications in a precise and systematic manner in the context of the recent changes to legislation in Scotland, including the implications of the introduction of local review bodies. Generally, it is aimed at those with some experience in dealing with development management casework, but it will also be suitable for those with limited experience who are keen to learn more. Participants will explore best development management practice and principles through a variety of topical case studies. The session will focus on case assessment and recommendations, use of conditions and refusal reasons as well as good administrative practice in conducting case work. Further details are available on the website via the above link.

If you would like to book a place on the workshop, you can do so by printing off and completing a booking form, and returning it to TRA by post, fax or scan/email. Provisional bookings can be made to reserve places by telephone or online, however prompt booking is recommended at this stage.

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Catch up with ENews via the archive - 22/11/10

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 still be viewed on our website. Just visit the Newsletter Archives page to catch up.

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TRA conference outlines the challenges and opportunities for support staff - 20/11/10

TRA's latest Conference for Planning Support Staff, held in Manchester at the end of September, gave out a number of positive messages and participants reported a highly useful day (see below for some of their feedback).

Mark Dickens, Head of Regeneration at St Helens Council, outlined the very strong messages coming from government and the challenges ahead. The government is stressing the continuing importance of planning but with a decentralisation of power putting communities at the heart of planning.

Vivien Green, one of TRA's Senior Associates, looked at what the Government's agenda for Open Source Planning and the forthcoming Localism Bill might mean for support staff. She set the debate in the context of the Comprehensive Review of Spending and Council Budget cuts which mean re-thinking the delivery of services including the possibilities of merging back offices, using virtual services, sharing management and out-sourcing. She urged support staff to keep themselves up-to-date with proposed changes (eg through PAN News) and to stay positive and open to new ideas.

Pam Armstrong from Gateshead Council promoted the benefits of a proactive development management approach. She gave many practical pointers on how to change culture, maximise income and provide a better service for customers. There were also reminders about the review of validation checklists required by the end of December 2010, and for vigilance about the new appeals costs regime which raises the stakes for the principal parties.

Jed Griffiths rounded off the day setting out the key issues for the delivery of the planning service and stressing the vital role of support staff in meeting the challenges ahead.

Participant feedback:

  • Excellent conference. Paula Rudd, Broxtowe Borough Council
  • Found the sessions very informative. There are major changes ahead and it is good to know that we can rely on TRA to keep us up to speed with these changes. Maggie Hallway, South Tyneside Council.
  • Interesting to learn how other support staff in different authorities are coping with the changes. Very informative. Liz Hackman, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council.

Next year's conference will be held in London on 16 June 2011 and will be organised in conjunction with the PAN, the Planning Admin Network. There may well be special rates available for PAN members so it's worth taking a look at the PAN website and becoming a member if you haven't already done so (membership is free).

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Don't miss out on discounted planning training for Councillors - 19/11/10

Our brand-new Councillor workshop Planning: Beyond the Basics is now available for delivery at a discounted price, for a limited time only!

An introductory 10% price discount is applicable to bookings (for this workshop only) made before the 28th February, 2011 for sessions being delivered before the 29th April, 2011. This means that a Beyond the Basics session, delivered by two of our experienced presenting team for up to 25 participants, could cost as little as £93 per person. In addition, because the session is delivered in-house travel is reduced making it more environmentally friendly and time away from the authority is kept to a minimum, which is often a major consideration for busy Councillors.

The workshop 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. It will provide participants with a greater understanding of the environment, both built (listed buildings, conservation areas, advertisements) and natural (trees, hedges, landscape, protected species) and explores how members can become more positively involved in improved design through design briefs etc.

An outline programme for the workshop can be viewed here. Please note that we would be happy to discuss tailoring the workshop to suit an individual authority's needs, if required.

You can visit our website for more information on in-house training for Councillors, or alternatively please feel free to contact Angela Holmes, for a no obligation quotation.

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Understanding Viability - a training workshop for planners - 19/11/10

The need to be able to understand a development's viability has become an important issue for planners, especially in the current economic situation. An understanding of viability can have a significant bearing on whether or not a development goes ahead and, if so, what benefits might accrue to the local community.

TRA has recently updated its popular one-day workshop Financial Appraisal, and re-named it Understanding Viability: key concepts in development economics for planners. The updates reflect recent changes in the planning system and the current economic climate, bringing the session bang up-to-date.

It is aimed at staff who are engaged in either policy implementation or development management, where the need to judge the viability of plans and projects is now vital. The workshop will be particularly relevant to staff who work with and negotiate with commercial developers to assess contributions under a planning agreement. The session helps participants to understand how developers approach financial appraisal; to be able to assess in broad terms the viability of proposals; and to appreciate the financial impact of conditions and planning agreements under consideration. The workshop also reviews the negotiation positions typically adopted by developers and, as you would expect, specific reference is made to developing in a recession.

This workshop is available to run on an in-house basis for individual organisations/authorities or a group of neighbouring authorities; and for a limited time only is eligible for a 10% price discount. This discount is only applicable to new in-house bookings made before the 31st January and delivered before the end of December 2011. See our website for a full list of the in-house officer workshops included in this offer.

For more information about running this workshop on an in-house basis, including an outline programme, please contact Angela Holmes without obligation.

Understanding Viability: key concepts in development economics for planners is also included in the 2011 inter-authority programme for England, Wales and Scotland (see the TRA training workshop programmes for 2011).

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TRA Training Workshop Programmes 2011 now available to view! - 19/11/10

The TRA training workshop programmes for 2011 in both England/Wales and Scotland have now been finalised and details are available to view on the website. A number of workshops on brand new topics have been added to the programmes this time including:

In England/Wales:

  • Delivering Affordable Housing
  • A Practical Guide to Community Engagement
  • Planning Enforcement in Practice: the core elements in detail
  • Certificates of Lawfulness: what are they and how should they be handled?
  • Trees, Landscape & Ecology for Planners

In Scotland:

  • Development Management: exploring best practice
  • Trees, Landscape & Ecology for Planners
  • Character and Appearance as a Material Consideration
  • Delivering Affordable Housing

Some of our more familiar workshops in the England/Wales programme have been updated and/or re-branded to bring them right up to date and reflect recent/proposed changes in the planning system and also the current economic climate. These include:

  • Design in Planning Applications how to add value
  • Understanding Viability: key concepts in planning economics for planners (formerly Financial Appraisal) also in Scotland
  • Planning Obligations: improving monitoring and accountability (formerly Effective Monitoring of Planning Agreements)

Also updated for 2011 is our Discounted Block Booking system, which has been improved so that you now only need to make 2 or more bookings at the same time (over any number of events in the programme) to qualify for a discount of up to 15% depending on the total number of places booked. Details are on the website.

Further details for each individual workshop in the form of a pdf leaflet/booking form will be available to download from the website in due course, and details will also be circulated to our usual mailing contacts. If you would like to sign up to receive our publicity you can do so via the website.

If you would like to book a place on any of the workshops in the new programme, you can do so using the General Booking Form for England/Wales or Scotland. Provisional bookings can be made to reserve places for a limited time via the online provisional bookings facility.

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Still receiving TRA publicity by post? - sign up for email now - 11/11/10

Reducing the amount of publicity we send out by post is a key objective in our Environmental Management System and to achieve this we need all our mailing contacts to agree to receive our publicity via email. We have made excellent progress with this so far and most of our contacts have now signed up for e-publicity but there are still a few of you out there who have not yet done so.

If you are still receiving our mailshots by post, we would strongly urge you to sign-up for e-publicity now. The easiest way to do this is to complete our mailing list sign-up form. The sign-up form also gives you the opportunity to choose the broad topic areas you are interested in. It will only take a few moments and, as well as saving valuable resources, it will mean that you'll receive our information direct to your inbox, rather than waiting for it to be circulated around the office. Your help with this would be very much appreciated.

If you do not currently receive our publicity and would like to do so, you can use the same form to sign-up. We won't bombard you with emails and we will not pass on your information to anyone else. Details of our privacy policy are on the sign-up form.

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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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