ENews Issue - 30 June 2011

ENews - June 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.

View our contact Information or subscription information.

In this issue:

  • TRA responds to Scottish GPDO consultation
  • Latest Enforcement Forum: programme taking shape
  • A Practical Guide to Community Engagement
  • Tailored training solutions for Councillors of different experience levels
  • Bursaries for Enforcement Practitioners: winners start attending events
  • Processing planning applications: advice on effectiveness and efficiency




TRA responds to Scottish GPDO consultation - 29/06/11

TRA regularly responds to consultation papers issued by central government and other organisations. The combined experience and expertise of TRA and all its Associates and Presenters makes us ideally qualified to comment on proposals for change in relation to the planning system.

We have just submitted our response to the Scottish Government's consultation on the Non-Domestic Elements of the General Permitted Development Order. In doing so we have been able to use our knowledge of the changes that have taken place in England combined with our already extensive knowledge of the Scottish system to offer a uniquely placed opinion on the changes being proposed.

Like all our previous consultation responses, this latest submission can be viewed in the Advice and Opinion section of our website, under Consultation Responses. TRA also responded to an earlier consultation regarding Householder PD rights in Scotland in January of this year.

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Latest Enforcement Forum: programme taking shape - 24/06/11

The details of TRA's next annual Forum on Enforcement are currently being finalised and should be available within the next few weeks. Look out for this in ENews, on our website, or via our email promotions if you are thinking of attending. If you would like to be notified as soon as the details are available just email your contact details to Shelagh Pooley now.

To whet your appetite in the meantime, we can give you an idea of the intended make-up of this year's Forum:

  • an opening plenary session providing a Legal Update for enforcement: always popular in such a litigious area of planning
  • a workshop on Investigative Skills, offering hints and tips on interviewing techniques, proceeds of crime etc
  • a small-group session looking at immunity and the implications for S171B in light of the Beesley case
  • a final plenary session from Michael Hyde based on his experiences of moving from the public to the private sector and looking at improving practice from both sides of the fence
  • a short update on progress towards localism and anything else particularly "topical" from Vivien Green who will also Chair the Forum.

The Forum will take place in Warrington on 20 October. A number of people have already booked their place either because they try to attend every year or as part of a discounted block-booking made by their authority. If you would like to make a provisional or confirmed booking now please contact Shelagh Pooley. Provisional bookings can also be made online via our website.

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A Practical Guide to Community Engagement - 21/06/11

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.

TRA is introducing a brand new workshop on this topic led by Tim Crawshaw, an innovative designer with over fifteen years experience in both the public and private sectors, and a specific interest in community consultation. The 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. A mixture of theoretical and practical work will ensure that delegates are more confident and empowered when considering planning matters alongside the communities they work with.

The workshop will take place on 11 October 2011 in London and bookings are now invited. Further details and a booking form are available on our website. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, as always we do recommend making a provisional booking to secure your place. This can be done either by telephoning us on 01204 385678, or via our online provisional bookings facility.

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Tailored training solutions for Councillors of different experience levels - 15/06/11

With a number of local authorities having had elections in May, training options in planning matters for newly elected and existing members has been a major consideration for many LPAs. Where Councillors have already received basic training TRA can offer short update sessions or training on specific aspects of planning. It was on this basis that TRA was commissioned to prepare and deliver a tailored training solution for members of both Mid Suffolk and Babergh District Councils with varying levels of experience.

While the authorities' newly elected and less experienced members received training in the form of our very popular one-day Councillor workshop A Briefing on Planning for Councillors in one room, their experienced members attended a bespoke afternoon refresher/update session designed to enhance their overall planning knowledge, in another. The update covered development management, pre-disposition, pre-determination and bias, with a focus on the decision-making process and decisions contrary to officer advice. A real-life case study was referred to throughout to help reinforce key points and stimulate discussion.

The bespoke workshop was delivered by Senior TRA Associate, Jed Griffiths, and feedback from members was extremely encouraging:

  • The presenter made the content very interesting which led to effective discussion. Most memorable planning training so far. Cllr Martin Redbond
  • This was one of the best planning workshops I have attended in many years. Cllr Derrick Hayley
  • Very informative. Covered a lot of new aspects that we will need to take on board. Cllr Lesley Mayes
  • The presentation was lively and the "workshop" interesting and realistic in its content. Cllr Diana Kearsley
  • Very thorough in taking us through every step of a planning application. Good advice on committee procedures and planning considerations generally, plus recommended behaviour of Councillors. Cllr Sara Mitchell.

If you feel that your experienced members might benefit from attending a similar "refresher" course then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes to discuss your requirements, without obligation.

Please note that TRA will shortly be producing a NEW Councillor session which will focus on issues surrounding Localism. Again, please feel free to contact Angela Holmes to register your interest in this forthcoming session and receive further details when they are available.

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Bursaries for Enforcement Practitioners: winners start attending events - 13/06/11

Three years ago, as part of our 25th Anniversary initiatives, TRA established an annual bursary scheme to offer additional training opportunities to particular groups of people involved in the planning process. In 2009 and 2010 these were Young Planners and Planning Support Staff respectively. The 2011 scheme was established for the benefit of Enforcement Practitioners and 10 free places have been awarded on events taking place throughout the year. The scheme was offered in association with NAPE - the National Association for Planning Enforcement.

April and May saw the first bursary winners taking part in their chosen training workshops and, as promised, we are including some of their feedback here. We will feature feedback from other winners later in the year.

  • John Clarke, Planning Enforcement Officer at Mid Devon DC, attended our Certificates of Lawfulness workshop in York.

    "This can be a complicated subject but the presenter (Michael Hyde) was so enthusiastic that the subject was very un-complicated. He involved every member of the course in discussion and examined individual experience which was very useful. Examination of real-life cases makes the theory much easier to understand. The course had members from various disciplines within the planning world - this also added to the interest."
  • Andy Smith, Senior Enforcement Officer with East Cambs DC, attended our workshop on Negotiation Skills: the key to achieving planning goals and objectives in London.

    "It was a worthwhile and well-presented day. Presenter clearly experienced and knowledgeable about topic. The handouts were very good, as was discussing the real-life case studies in detail."

Although not scheduled to run again on an inter-authority basis until 2012, both workshops are available for delivery on an in-house basis if you think they might be of benefit to you and your colleagues. Workshops can be organised for a single authority or for two or more authorities joining together to take advantage of some shared training. Please contact Angela Holmes for information on in-house training.

If you would like to see what events are running in the rest of the 2011 workshop programmes please visit our website for details of the programmes in England and Scotland.

TRA is keen to continue with this annual scheme and information on the focus of the 2012 bursaries will be available later in the autumn. Look out for details as it might be something you could apply for.

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Processing planning applications: advice on effectiveness and efficiency - 09/06/11

A high priority for any service manager and their staff at the moment is continuing to deliver a quality service that satisfies the customer at the same time as making efficiency savings by amending or changing day-to-day practices and processes wherever possible. This is especially the case with regard to processing planning applications: the community rightly expects a high quality applications service but it also expects this to be delivered at minimum cost. To help experienced technical/administrative staff and their managers to tackle the issues raised by this dilemma TRA offers a highly practical one-day workshop delivered by TRA Senior Associate Vivien Green.

Supporting the Processing of Planning Applications aims to ensure that staff supporting the development management function understand the specific requirements for processing a wide range of planning applications. Using interactive methods it looks at the implications of the current validation rules, what constitutes a valid application and the options for dealing with invalid applications, whilst helping to identify different ways in which key procedures can be carried out. Crucially it helps to develop the potential of support staff, giving them the necessary confidence to be able to suggest improvements to the processing of applications within their own authorities.

The workshop is available on both an inter-authority and in-house basis. It is next running as an inter-authority session in London on 29 September 2011 and places are still available. Further details can be found on our website. Please note that places are limited, so we would advise you to book early to avoid disappointment. In terms of in-house delivery (ie where we come to you), the workshop can be organised for staff from a single authority or from several neighbouring authorities joining together.

Where the workshop is run for a group of authorities the dynamics are similar to our normal inter-authority events in that staff from different authorities can share experience and learn from each other. Where it is run for a single authority it offers the opportunity to focus specifically on local processes and procedures and develop ideas for their improvement. This is the approach taken recently by Braintree District Council who involved both support staff and planners, including team leaders and the DM Manager, in their recent in-house session. It proved to be a particularly useful day as their comments show:

  • It is exactly what I hoped it would be and hopefully will now help us to be a lot more consistent across the district in each area - especially in the validation process.
  • Far exceeded my expectations. Very informative, allowing input from those attending and all questions answered.
  • It was very informative. I would recommend this workshop to all LAs. All levels of staff should attend as part of a refresher course.
  • Well presented, structured and extremely relevant. The presenter has a wealth of knowledge which illuminated the subject and resolved many issues.

If you would like more information about running this workshop on an in-house basis, 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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