ENews Issue - 31 May 2011

ENews - May 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:

  • Let TRA help you prepare for your DPD examination
  • Development economics: what planners need to know
  • Looking for specialist input to your Councillor training programme?
  • Still receiving TRA publicity by post? Sign up for email now
  • Conference for Planning Support Staff - still time to book
  • An Update on Planning Enforcement for Scotland




Let TRA help you prepare for your DPD examination - 31/05/11

TRA has successfully delivered in-house training on Examinations of Development Plan Documents (DPDs) for well over a dozen authorities in England. If your authority is expecting to submit development plan documents to the Planning Inspectorate in the near future or is approaching an examination, you might also find it beneficial to commission TRA to provide some training and guidance for those involved.

The aim of this highly practical 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 most recent authority to commission TRA was Oldham Council, who ran a workshop in April. By all accounts it was a useful and enjoyable day and feedback from participants was extremely positive:

  • Thoroughly enjoyed the day, especially the mock inquiry. Came away much better informed. Joanne Betts
  • It exceeded my expectations! Much clearer understanding of Inspector's role, hearings and format of the day. Georgina Brainridge
  • The format was excellent - slides and presentations in the morning and role-play in the afternoon. It has made me more aware of what is in store for the real examination and offered a lot of useful tips and information. Clare Meran

A full list of client authorities and more of their comments can be found on our website.

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 was 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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Development economics: what planners need to know - 31/05/11

Having a basic understanding of how a development's viability is judged or assessed is pretty much essential for today's planners. 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.

Within this topic area, TRA has been running workshops on "financial appraisal" for several years and this year is offering a re-focused and updated workshop entitled 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 is 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 running in both Glasgow (6 October 2011) and London (11 October 2011) and places are available at both venues. Leaflets/booking forms can be downloaded via the above links. If you would like to book provisionally to reserve your place immediately you can do so by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

This workshop can also be run on an in-house basis for individual organisations/authorities or a group of neighbouring authorities. For more information about running this workshop on an in-house basis, including an outline programme, please contact Angela Holmes without obligation.

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Looking for specialist input to your Councillor training programme? - 25/05/11

As the UK's leading provider of practitioner-presented training for Councillors involved in planning, TRA has trained thousands of Councillors in more than 200 local authorities throughout England, Scotland and Wales. You can see a list of our satisfied clients and feedback from past participants by visiting our Councillor training webpage.

We know that many authorities ask their own officers to design and deliver training for their Councillors, particularly more basic-level training on the planning system. While this may be perfectly appropriate in many cases, there are a number of benefits in commissioning an external provider like TRA instead, and this is especially so when the training focuses on fairly specific or specialised aspects of the planning system. The benefits of engaging TRA include:

  • access to our extensive network of training presenters, offering a wider range of experience than is likely to be found within an authority and covering all aspects of the planning system, including quite specialist topics where required
  • delivery by presenters who are experienced practitioners in their own right and are engaged by TRA based on their enthusiasm for the subject and their ability to communicate it effectively to groups of non-planners/non-specialists
  • avoiding tying up valuable officer time in designing the training session and preparing material (this can be more time-consuming than you realise if you don't do it very often)
  • the ability to tailor the training to suit your requirements or have bespoke sessions designed just for you
  • dedicated support from our In-house Training Co-ordinator to make organising your training, from your initial enquiry right through to delivery and invoicing, as hassle-free as possible.

Our website provides an indication of the sorts of topics we can cover beyond what might be considered basic training in the planning system: these generally relate to more specialist aspects of the system and updates on policy, procedure and practice. They include:

  • planning obligations and agreements (planning gain)
  • planning enforcement
  • climate change
  • a briefing on Localism (Coming soon)
  • conservation areas/listed buildings
  • design considerations and the principles of urban design
  • trees and the planning process.

While some topics necessitate a full-day's training, many can be covered in a half-day session. As mentioned above, we are also happy to consider designing bespoke sessions, or tailoring an existing programme, to suit individual clients - so please do not hesitate to ask if you have any specific requirements.

If you would like to see more information on in-house training for Councillors, including outline programmes, please feel free to contact Angela Holmes for a no-commitment discussion.

P.S. For more general training on the planning system, we are also still able to offer our two most popular one-day workshops:

  • 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.

These sessions can also be delivered for authorities in Scotland.

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Still receiving TRA publicity by post? Sign up for email now - 20/05/11

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 our mailing contacts to sign-up to receive our publicity via email.

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 at all 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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Conference for Planning Support Staff - still time to book - 18/05/11

Booking is going well for the next TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff on 16 June 2011 in London but it's not too late to book if you or a colleague would like to attend.

Against the backdrop of the government's savings and economic growth agenda, the Conference aims to help delegates understand the "big picture" but also crucially how this might translate to the local level and affect them more directly. The event will include:

  • an update from CLG on the government's latest proposals for planning
  • a session focusing on localism and community engagement
  • one authority's experience of implementing 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.

Full details of the Conference can be found on our website, including a pdf leaflet/booking form for download.

This year, the Conference is being organised 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, Wales and Scotland. If this is you - we would encourage you to become a member. You can find more information about PAN on the TRA website. As an added bonus, PAN members are entitled to discounted places on this year's Conference so why not join and take advantage of the saving on offer. It's really quick and simple to join - register now.

Further discounts of between 10 and 15% are available when booking two or more places at the same time across any number of events in our 2011 programme, including this Conference. Prompt booking is recommended at this stage but if you are unable to make a firm booking immediately you can reserve a place provisionally by telephone or via our online provisional bookings facility.

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An Update on Planning Enforcement for Scotland - 06/05/11

TRA has been running an annual workshop on Planning Enforcement as part of our training programme in Scotland for the past 8 years. However, unlike most of our workshops which evolve and are updated over time to keep pace with changes, this one is unique in that it focuses on a completely different aspect of enforcement each year. This means that even if you have attended the workshop in previous years, you would still benefit from attending this year for another excellent opportunity to exchange information, ideas and practical enforcement experiences.

'Planning Enforcement: an essential update' aims to enable participants to develop and refresh their knowledge, keep abreast of relevant case law and develop confidence in their abilities to investigate. This year it will focus on Immunity Periods and will take place in Edinburgh on 22 September. There has been a lot to look at in recent years in terms of changes to the planning system and how to use the new enforcement 'toolkit' but as the system has now settled in to a large extent, it seems appropriate to focus on an individual practical enforcement topic. Immunity periods is a subject that crops up almost on a day-to-day basis in investigating complaints, but how well do we understand the 4 and 10 year rules? For example:

  • when is a building substantially complete?
  • what is a continuous use?
  • are there different types of conditions when it comes to time limits?
  • have you ever considered or used the "second bite provisions"?

These and other issues, and case law surrounding them, will be considered as will the recent Supreme Court judgement in relation to the dwelling inside a barn and the barn behind hay bales, which raised some very interesting issues particularly surrounding the interpretation of time limits.

If you would like to book a place on this workshop you can download a leaflet/booking form from our website. Alternatively, you can reserve a place provisionally for a limited period of time, either by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

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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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