ENews Issue - 28 February 2011

ENews - February 2011

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:

  • Brand new workshop on 'Community Engagement'
  • Next opportunity to join certificated enforcement programme
  • Survey responses confirm the importance of training
  • Training workshop on 'Conditions, Planning Agreements and Planning Gain'
  • The Planning Admin Network is open to anyone interested in the Town Planning Process
  • Blaby DC hosts TRA Bespoke Enforcement Seminar
  • Don't forget post-election planning training for Councillors




Brand new workshop on 'Community Engagement' - 28/02/11

TRA is introducing a number of new workshops into the training programme for 2011 and one of these is 'A Practical Guide to Community Engagement'.

Increasingly, communities are encouraged to take part in planning. Whether as part of the plan making process, or through Development Management, this legislative and cultural change needs to be understood and embraced as a means to aiding decision making and ensuring 'buy-in'. As the public become more involved in the planning process officers need to understand the soft skills required to get the best out of the opportunity and the role Members can play without prejudicing decisions by their involvement.

This brand new workshop covers innovative methods of engaging with the public and appropriate techniques and strategies will be explored to ensure that the wishes and desires of the community are heard. The workshop will be presented by Tim Crawshaw, who is qualified in Architecture and Urban Environmental Design and operates as a multi-disciplinary consultant involved in masterplanning, development briefs, characterisation, wildlife, ecology and sustainability.

The workshop will be running at the MIC Hotel & Conference Centre in London on 11 October 2011. Further details and a booking form are available to download from the website. Provisional bookings can be made to reserve places either by telephone or via our online provisional bookings facility. Bookings of 2 or more places made at the same time (over any number of events in the programme) will be eligible for a discount of up to 15% - further details are on our special discounted block booking form.

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Next opportunity to join certificated enforcement programme - 28/02/11

Although it is not essential, we do recommend that most people wanting to join TRA's Certificated Programme in Planning Enforcement should begin with the module entitled Key Principles of Planning and Enforcement, which is generally seen as the "introductory" module. The next opportunity to attend this module will be in October/November this year and bookings are now being taken. If you would like to attend, early booking is recommended as attendance is strictly limited to 12 students.

The module will take place at Madingley Hall, Cambridge on 3-4 October and 7-8 November 2011. It provides an excellent introduction to enforcement, ideally suited to staff new to enforcement, whether qualified or not, who need to learn quickly in order to get on with the job. It is also of great benefit to established enforcement staff who may not previously have had much specific training, giving them a good framework for their practical experience. It is a valuable, though not essential, foundation for other modules. Full details of this module and the enforcement programme as a whole can be found on our website.

You can also see comments from previous students on the enforcement programme on the website. For further information or to reserve your place on the October/November module please contact Shelagh Pooley.

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Survey responses confirm the importance of training - 28/02/11

The recent survey carried out by TRA into training and development for those involved in planning has overwhelmingly confirmed the importance of maintaining training provision, even in difficult financial times. The comments provided by respondents make it clear that the majority of people feel that training and development is vital in order to continue delivering an effective planning service.

As you would expect, however, funding issues appear to be the biggest stumbling block faced by most authorities. We asked people how they feel about training budgets being cut because of limited finances.

  • 66% feel that it is still important to provide some training and development, providing it is focused where it is most needed
  • 15% of respondents said that they understand the need to reduce budgets but that they feel it is just storing up problems for the future
  • 14% feel it is wrong to cut training because it is especially important in times like these, and
  • 5% feel that it is right to reduce training budgets when jobs are in danger.

Regarding training and development for planning staff generally, respondents' comments included:

  • It is vital. Cutting back on training is very short-sighted: but on the other hand trainers must give value for money.
  • Training is important to enable youngsters to progress and to enable more senior officers to keep up to date.
  • Training (either external or internal) is crucial in maintaining an efficient and on-the- ball planning service.
  • It's important that training is perceived to be good value for money and tailored to peoples' needs.
  • Speculate to accumulate.. there's never enough training so preventable problems occur and cost money when they need not have occurred in the first place.

Over the last 25 years, TRA has developed a reputation for providing high quality training which is both practical and provides excellent value for money. In addition to our publicised training events in England and Scotland, we are always willing to consider developing bespoke in-house training solutions to ensure that, where appropriate, learning can be focused on particular areas to suit the needs of individual authorities (or groups of authorities jointly).

So whether you have tried our training before or not, we would welcome the opportunity to help you meet your training needs, either individually or as a department/organisation. Take a look at the inter-authority and in-house training options available and feel free to get in touch if you would like to discuss your requirements.

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Training workshop on 'Conditions, Planning Agreements and Planning Gain' - 25/02/11

One of the most consistently popular events in our training workshop programme for Scotland is due to run again shortly, and a number of places are currently still available. The workshop on 'Conditions, Planning Agreements and Planning Gain' will take place at the Novotel Hotel, Glasgow on 31 March 2011.

Conditions and Section 75 Agreements are on the one hand essential areas to get right for any application, and on the other a major source of controversy and debate. The workshop concentrates on the basic legal and policy principles and explores some of the up to date front-line issues. Participants will have the opportunity to thrash out some of the theoretical and real-life difficulties of day to day practice in this area with both the workshop presenter Frances McChlery, a highly experienced Solicitor specialising in local government, planning and environmental law; and with fellow workshop participants.

The workshop is suitable for all staff dealing with development management and the development of local plan policy, and will also be of interest to planners working in the development industry. Feedback from previous participants has been very positive and some of their comments include:

  • "The workshop was delivered in an informative, entertaining yet relatively informal manner and fully met my expectations. It certainly provided me with food for thought as to the use of conditions or S.75 agreements. All in all, a thoroughly useful, informative and entertaining training event" Tony Maric, Perth & Kinross Council
  • "The presenter was very good at simplifying legal/planning issues and the provision of real examples strengthened the arguments etc" Helen Atkinson, East Dunbartonshire Council
  • "I now have a better understanding of what to expect/hope to achieve in negotiations with Planning Authorities, and am more mindful of what they are/should be trying to achieve" Danny McLean, Bryce Associates

Further details and a booking form can be obtained form our website. If you are interested in attending the workshop but are unable to make a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings are recommended and can be made by telephone on 01204 385678 or via the provisional bookings facility on our website. Don't forget, making a block booking of two or more places at the same time (over any number of events in the programme) will earn you a discount of up to 15%! Further details are on our special Discounted Block Booking Form.

Finally, we realise training budgets are an issue at the moment and so if it is more convenient for you, we are able to take bookings now but delay invoicing until the new financial year. Simply mark 'Invoice in April' on your booking form or contact Shelagh Pooley on the above telephone number.

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The Planning Admin Network is open to anyone interested in the Town Planning Process - 25/02/11

Whatever your role, if you are interested in the way in which the planning process is administered (in England, Scotland or Wales), then the Planning Admin Network (PAN) is likely to be a useful resource for you.

Originally set up in 2006 as a network for "Planning Administrators", PAN has evolved slightly over time and its membership now includes a number of staff in other planning roles who are keen to keep up to date with developments and have access, via the Discussion Forum, to colleagues in other organisations who are facing similar issues.

One of the most useful features of the network is the PAN News page. It 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. Its content is co-ordinated by TRA Senior Associate Vivien Green, who many of our readers will have come across in the past.

To access PAN News you need to be a member but it's FREE to join and only takes a minute to sign up online (see below). To give you an idea of the sorts of things included in PAN News, you can download a PDF copy of the January and February 2011 issues now.

To find out more you can visit the PAN website. To join PAN now just click here. If you have any queries or comments about PAN please contact Angela Holmes.

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Blaby DC hosts TRA Bespoke Enforcement Seminar - 08/02/11

TRA are always willing to consider designing bespoke in-house training sessions that are tailored to an individual client's requirements and, on this basis, were recently commissioned to deliver a one-day Enforcement training seminar at Blaby District Council.

Presented to around 70 Planning and Enforcement officers from various authorities located in the South Midlands, 'Conditions Attached to Planning Permissions' looked at some of the common issues faced by officers when it comes to securing compliance with conditions. This included topics such as monitoring issues, pre-commencement conditions and the immunity periods for certain types of conditions. One of the key tests for the success of 'Localism' will be that development is delivered in accordance with the approved plans and the conditions on the permission; so there will be a much stronger emphasis on compliance and enforcement.

The seminar was hailed a great success and was delivered by Vivien Green, Senior Associate of TRA and the main tutor on TRA's certificated training programme on Planning Enforcement.

In times such as these where budgets are tight and training has to be focused on where it is needed most, providing joint training can really prove to be an enormous benefit and many of our clients are now taking this approach. Organising joint training events with neighbouring authorities or as part of a County Group not only maximises the cost effectiveness of the training but it also gives participants the opportunity to 'network' and share experiences with their colleagues from other local authorities.

If you would like more information on running an in-house training event whether it be on a bespoke basis as above, or one of our more 'standard' workshops, please contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

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Don't forget post-election planning training for Councillors - 03/02/11

For some authorities local Council elections are just around the corner and we would like to remind those of you who are considering providing planning training in the coming months about the importance of booking early to ensure that your Councillors don't miss out on one of our extremely popular in-house training sessions.

Training will be especially important in light of the recent Localism Bill. Having now received its second reading in the House of Commons, the coalition Government is keen to press ahead with this important piece of legislation. One of the key messages is that the Bill will put a great deal of power and decision making into the hands of local communities and their representatives. In the area of planning this could see some significant changes as the Government looks to introduce a real sense of neighbourhood planning into the system.

Even for those Councillors who are relatively experienced in planning, localism will require new skills and understanding. Providing training will ensure that by the time the Localism Bill reaches the statute book, Councillors are not only well versed in the fundamentals of planning, but they are also fully up to speed with the new provisions and requirements.

We can respond to various training requirements, providing individual bespoke sessions as appropriate, but particularly popular in the post-election period are our one-day sessions:

  • A Briefing on Planning for Councillors - covering planning procedures and policies, and focusing especially on Development Management, and
  • The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice - covering issues such as conflicts and declarations of interest, material considerations, lobbying, and making the decision.

The Training for Councillors section of our website provides further information and answers the most frequently asked questions. We generally ask for around 4-6 weeks to arrange Councillor training but will aim to accommodate clients wherever possible thanks to our large team of experienced presenters.

Please note that demand is very high in the period immediately after the elections and therefore we would highly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to fix your date and avoid any disappointment. A number of authorities have already avoided the rush and booked their training days - so don't leave it until the last minute, contact us today!

To arrange a booking, or to see an outline programme without obligation please contact Angela Holmes.

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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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