ENews Issue - 25 March 2011

ENews - March 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:

  • TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff - Details now available!
  • Let TRA give your DM service the "once-over"
  • Forthcoming training workshops in Manchester
  • Got a training budget? ... make the most of it with TRA
  • Localism - what your members will need to know
  • Training workshop on 'Advertisement Control' in Scotland
  • NEW - TRA's workshop on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA)

TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff - Details now available! - 25/03/11

Details have now been finalised for the next TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff, which this year we are delighted to announce, will be run in association with the Planning Admin Network (PAN). PAN is a FREE online network for anyone with an interest in the administration of the planning service in both the public and private sectors in England, Scotland and Wales.

In light of the coalition government's savings and economic growth agenda, which means we are facing some of the biggest changes to local government and planning for some time, this latest conference aims to help delegates understand the "big picture" and crucially how this might translate to the local level. It will provide an excellent opportunity to find out first-hand what is happening.

The conference will take place on 16 June 2011 in London and will include: an update from the Department of Communities and Local Government on the government's latest proposals; a session focusing on localism and community engagement; an insight into how one authority has coped and the lessons they have learned during the implementation of a new model of low-cost service delivery; an outline of the possible implications of the government's reform agenda and how this might affect planning and planning support; and a short presentation on the Planning Admin Network and how you can get involved.

Contributors will include:

  • TAMMY ADAMS or MICHAEL BINGHAM from the Department of Communities and Local Government
  • TIM CRAWSHAW, a freelance consultant and designer with a special interest and practical experience in local community engagement
  • MARTIN COWIE, Assistant Director of Planning and Development Management at the London Borough of Barnet
  • SIMON ROWBERRY, Managing Director of Simon Rowberry Consulting and Support Ltd, a public sector only management and support consultancy
  • VIVIEN GREEN, TRA Senior Associate and lead co-ordinator of the Planning Admin Network.

Further details for the conference can be found on the TRA website, where you can download a pdf leaflet/bookng form. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings can be made by telephone or via our online provisional booking facility. A discounted price is available for PAN members and further discounts of between 10 and 15% are available when booking 2 or more places at the same time on this and/or any number of events in our 2011 progamme.

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Let TRA give your DM service the "once-over" - 25/03/11

TRA has been undertaking reviews of local authority Planning services for a number of years. These reviews usually cover procedures, performance, management, organisation and resources and we have carried out this type of work for more than 40 local authorities.

Included in our portfolio of procedural consultancy services is the diagnostic review of development management. A TRA diagnostic review is a relatively short and focused review which examines how development management is organised within a client authority, with the aim of identifying any particular areas of concern or any specific aspects where a more detailed review could be most effectively focused (any subsequent work need not involve TRA, although of course we do undertake more detailed reviews when required). It covers all elements of the DM process and is focused mainly on the procedures involved, although it will also consider related aspects of structure and staffing to a limited extent. The output of the review is a short written report of our conclusions and recommendations and we aim to handle each assignment within a month, and within two at the most.

All members of TRA's procedural consultancy team are planning practitioners with extensive and current experience of working within the planning system and experience of advising local authorities on bringing about service improvements.

It is especially important in difficult economic times to make sure that you are making the most effective use of the resources you have. Even if you already run a "tight ship" it can still prove beneficial to have TRA run through your procedures, highlighting aspects where there is potential for further improvement, or otherwise confirming your efficiency (equally useful in some cases).

Further details of the diagnostic review service, including a PDF leaflet, can be found on our website. If you would like to discuss the possibility of commissioning this kind of review for your authority please feel free to contact Penny O'Shea without obligation.

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Forthcoming training workshops in Manchester - 23/03/11

The TRA Training Workshop programme for 2011 is about to commence very soon and a number of places are still available on two of the earlier workshops due to take place at our Manchester venue on 24 May 2011:

  • Being Effective at Enforcement Inquiries

    Enforcement appeals are a complex and often misunderstood element of the planning process. This workshop focuses on enforcement appeal evidence, including what to and crucially what not to include, and helps participants to better prepare for an inquiry and in turn to present their evidence to best effect. The workshop outlines the statutory requirements and explores the practicalities of how to write the evidence, how to present it, and how to work as part of a team at an appeal.

  • Design in Planning Applications: how to add value

    All planners are familiar with applications which are "acceptable" but which they feel somehow miss out on the opportunity to make a real positive difference. This workshop is designed to help participants come up with practical suggestions for improvements to put to applicants. The workshop is ideally suited for recently qualified planners or those early in their careers, and has been updated recently to reflect current circumstances and the role the design process can play in community engagement.

Further details and downloadable booking forms for both of these workshops can be obtained form our website by clicking on the appropriate link above. If you would like to reserve a place provisonally for a limited period of time, you can do so by telephoning 01204 385678 or using the provisional booking facility on our website. Bookings of 2 or more place made at the same time over any number of events in the 2011 programme will attract a discount of between 10 and 15% (depending on the total number of places booked).

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Got a training budget? ... make the most of it with TRA - 22/03/11

We realise that it can be really difficult to hold on to a budget for training when significant cuts in expenditure need to be made. However, staff training and development is essential for organisations under pressure to continually improve their services and increase efficiency and this is particularly the case when staff resources have been reduced and people are having to take on new tasks and roles. As well as its value as an investment for the future, training and development can assist greatly in times of change.

At TRA, we have always offered high quality, practically oriented training at competitive prices and we pride ourselves on offering really good value for money. Below is a sample of prices (per person) for 1-day training events for planning and development staff during 2011.

TRA Professional Workshop

Standard price


Discounted price* between £191.25 and £202.50 TRA Professional Update/Conference

Standard price

£175 Discounted price * between £148.75 and £157.50 TRA In-house workshop

Standard one-day workshop from as little as


RTPI Conference Series (1-day events)

Non-member price


Member price £349 Cheapest price (when you book 25 places) £251.28 UWE Short Course Standard price £200 (no VAT)

* a discount of between 10 and 15% is available when booking two or more places at the same time across any number of events.

As you can see, TRA workshops are extremely competitively priced and, we believe, the best quality events around. If you have attended our events in the past you will already be aware of this and we hope you will continue to support our training programmes. If you haven't used TRA for training before, take a look at some of the feedback from people who have, and why not give us a try? See our Event Calendar for details of what's coming up.

If you would like to discuss training requirements for your department generally, we would be happy to look at how we might be able to assist via a combination of inter-authority and in-house training, including developing bespoke sessions. Feel free to get in touch without obligation.

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Localism - what your members will need to know - 15/03/11

The Localism Bill will make some important and significant changes to the town planning system. Underpinning these changes will be the concept of localism itself which stands to radically alter the way town planning is delivered and to affect the way in which local planning authorities will function in the future. Councillors will therefore need to develop an understanding of localism and the impact it will have on their roles and responsibilities.

TRA is currently keeping abreast of any significant developments or changes as the Localism Bill makes its way through Parliament. This is with the intention of developing a new half-day workshop for Councillors, and particularly those involved with planning, to help prepare them for the new way that the planning system will operate. The workshop will be available as soon as the Localism Bill reaches the statute book and will ensure that Councillors are well versed and fully up to speed with the new provisions and requirements.

If you think that your authority's members would benefit from having an expert briefing on localism then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes to register your interest in this forthcoming workshop and receive further details when they are available.

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Training workshop on 'Advertisement Control' in Scotland - 15/03/11

Advertisement Control is an increasingly important yet often minunderstood part of the planning regime. The present Scottish Advertisement Regulations came into force in 1984 and have remained substantially unaltered. Whether providing pre-application advice, dealing with applications for consent or investigating breaches of control, a good working knowledge of the Regulations is invaluable.

As part of our 2011 training programme in Scotland, TRA will shortly be running a workshop which provides a clear insight into the complexities of the Regulations using real life examples at each stage. Topics to be covered include the definition of an advertisement, current legislation and guidance, advertisements not covered by the Regulations, the classes of deemed consent, areas of special control, applications for express consent, advertisement enforcement and flyposting. The workshop aims to equip participants with greater confidence by improving awareness of advertisement control; developing knowledge of the 1984 Regulations; and by providing opportunities to exchange experiences. Comments from those who have attended the workshop previously include:

  • "It was very informative and I enjoyed all the discussions and examples that the Trainer provided. It's a very tough subject and he made it simple and approachable"

    Kirsty Hope, Falkirk Council
  • "Excellent workshop on a very difficult subject"

    Brett Taylor, City of Edinburgh Council
  • "Excellent day and presentation. Delivered at the right pace, even after 11 years in enforcement I have learnt a lot today. Definitely well worth attending"

The forthcoming workshop will take place in Edinburgh on 19 May 2011 and will be of benefit to development management, enforcement and support officers. Further details and a booking form can be obtained from our website. Provisional bookings can be made to reserve places for a limited period of time either by telephone or via the provisional bookings facility on our website. Don't forget - bookings of 2 or more places will be eligible for a discount of between 10 & 15%!

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NEW - TRA's workshop on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) - 07/03/11

TRA was recently commissioned to develop and deliver a bespoke in-house training course, run over a day and a half, on Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) on behalf of North Lincolnshire Council. Participant feedback was particularly encouraging (see below) and TRA is pleased to announce that the training course is now available, exclusively on an in-house basis, to all other authorities.

SEA is a process to ensure that significant environmental effects arising from policies, plans and programmes are identified, assessed, mitigated, communicated to decision-makers and monitored, and that opportunities for public involvement are provided. The importance of SEA is widely recognised and it has become a key instrument to help to achieve sustainable development in public planning and policy making.

The specific objectives of TRA's workshop are:

  • to provide an introduction to SEA and the Sustainability Appraisal and their role in policy planning
  • to show how the techniques help to develop issues and options in the preparation of plans and policy documents
  • to explain the role of the SEA/SA at the formal submission and adoption stages
  • to illustrate how the processes can be used effectively in monitoring and implementing plans and policies.

The workshop was delivered by Jed Griffiths, Senior Associate of TRA. Some participant feedback from the North Lincolnshire session was as follows:

  • Although I work in transport planning, this workshop was very useful as an SEA will be carried out for the Local Transport Plan. Would recommend workshop.
  • Far better than I was expecting.
  • It was better than I expected in that I learnt more about the whole SA/SEA process than I already knew and feel that this will benefit me in my professional life. Working through the practical exercise was particularly beneficial. I now feel more confident about working on an SA/SEA for future LDF documents. There was a good mix of presentation and practical work and plenty of opportunity for interaction.

If you are interested in this workshop and would like more information, such as an outline programme, then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

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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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