ENews Issue - 29 July 2011

ENews - July 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:

  • Brand new workshop on Delivering Affordable Housing
  • A Forum on Enforcement 2011 - details now available!
  • Latest Support Staff Conference addresses challenges facing planning
  • Get value for money with in-house training
  • Appearing at Hearings: develop your skills and confidence
  • Involved in planning? Then you should be involved in the Planning Admin Network ...

Brand new workshop on Delivering Affordable Housing - 29/07/11

The significant changes to housing and planning policies and implementation as envisaged in the Localism Bill and Welfare Reform Bill, combined with the wider effects of spending cuts will impact on affordable housing delivery. TRA have developed a brand new interactive workshop aimed at planners involved in the delivery of affordable housing through policy making and development management.

The workshop will begin by providing an overview of the wider changes affecting affordable housing delivery such as changes to housing benefits, funding affordable housing, issues around management, nomination agreements, choice-based letting and zero-carbon homes standards. It will also look at opportunities for community led housing initiatives such as Community Land Trusts and Local Housing Trusts, and what local authorities can do to support such schemes.

Secondly, the workshop will provide the opportunity to consider how planners can rise to these new challenges drawing on initiatives and good practice from the UK and abroad. Opportunities around shared services and the experiences of community planning vanguards will also be considered, as well as issues around policy making and development management including drafting flexibility into policies; viability negotiations and the need for local evidence; and what proactive local authorities can do to maximise affordable housing delivery, including support for neighbourhood plans and the Community Right to Build.

The workshop will be presented by Rachel Danemann, Planning and Affordable Housing Officer for South Hams District Council, who is involved in all aspects of affordable housing in her current role from policy making to delivery on the ground, and is also studying for a PhD researching affordable housing delivery.

Further details for the workshop which will take place in London on 22 November 2011 can be found on our website along with a downloadable leaflet/booking form. Places can be reserved provisionally by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisonal booking facility.

The workshop is also scheduled to run in our Scotland programme on 17 November 2011 in Glasgow. Further details for this workshop are also on the website, although the leaflet/booking form is still being finalised. If you would like to receive a copy when it is available, please give us a ring on the above number or drop us an email at mail@tra-ltd.co.uk

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A Forum on Enforcement 2011 - details now available! - 26/07/11

Details for this year's Forum on Enforcement have now been finalised. The Forum will take place on 20 October 2011 and the first thing to mention is that due to refurbishment work taking place at our regular venue in Warrington, this year's event will take place at Staff House Conference Centre, Manchester. The conference centre has excellent rail links and is just a few minutes walk from both Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations.

As enforcement can become particularly litigious it is important we all keep up-to-date with recent case law and so the day will start with a plenary session given by Sarah Clover, Barrister, from No5 Chambers.

One of the workshops will look at the case of Welwyn Hatfield against Mr Beesley and CLG (the barn that was always to be a dwelling) as it came before the Supreme Court, and how this judgment has helped to clarify interpretation of s171B of the Act on immunity, and the circumstances when the "Connor Principle" can be applied to breaches of planning control.

Russell Sharland, Team Leader with Swindon Council's Corporate Enforcement Team, will facilitate a second workshop on various topics under the banner of "Investigative Skills" including interviewing techniques, proceeds of crime, liabilities of directors etc giving practical hints and tips.

Michael Hyde, who has experience as both an enforcement officer and now working as a planning consultant will give his thoughts on 'gamekeeper turned poacher'. He has accumulated all sorts of examples of good (and bad) practice and will use them to see how the parties can try and work together to get the right solution.

So much is changing in the planning world in England and Wales that our Senior Associate, Vivien Green, will take the opportunity to give an update on where things stand and the likely timescales for changes in the coming year.

Further details and a booking form can be found here. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings are recommended to reserve your place and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via the online provisional bookings facility on the website.

We realise that training budgets are restricted at the moment and so to help ensure that nobody misses out, we are introducing a discount scheme for this year's Forum. Should you wish to book just 2 places, you will be entitled to 10% discount under our regular block booking scheme. However, should you wish to book 3 or more places, you will be entitled to a 50% discount on the third and any subsequent places booked: details are on the special discounted booking form available here.

Please note: only 1 discount scheme can be used per booking.

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Latest Support Staff Conference addresses challenges facing planning - 25/07/11

TRA has been organising an annual Conference for Planning Support Staff for the past 20 years and last month saw the 10th Conference to be held in London. The event focused on a number of challenging and thought-provoking topics.

Jillian Hastings from the Department of Communities and Local Government set the scene by updating us on the many changes taking place as part of the government's agenda for planning. She focused on some of the things of particular concern to support staff, seeking views about the validation process and the list requirements. In his closing presentation, Simon Rowberry, public sector management and support consultant, ruthlessly challenged some of the government's ideas and gave us much food for thought.

Much of the rest of the day revolved around two workshop sessions, enabling plenty of participation and discussion:

  • Tim Crawshaw provided an entertaining review of his practical experience in Darlington of engaging with the local community in a meaningful way. This is a hot topic in which many support staff may become involved in the near future as a result of government plans for more "bottom-up" planning from neighbourhoods.
  • Joe Henry of Barnet Council shared the hands-on experience of his council in getting to grips with the realities of change in local government and planning.

This year's Conference was the first to be run in association with the Planning Admin Network (PAN) and Vivien Green, Senior Associate of TRA and key contributor to the network, reminded the audience of the invaluable free information and networking resource provided by PAN. (Please see the feature on PAN in this month's newsletter for further information).

As always, feedback on the event was very positive:

  • Very informative - would definitely come again. Nicola Spencer, Arun District Council
  • It was great to have a forum to learn how others are changing working processes to take on board the changes in planning. Chris Page, Bracknell Forest Council
  • An excellent conference. Colin Green, City of London

Any sense of pervading gloom was easily overcome on the day, as we looked forward to the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead, and the important, if perhaps changing, roles for planning support staff.

As well as the annual Conference, TRA's portfolio of training and development opportunities for planning support staff also includes a number of inter-authority workshops run as part of our England & Wales and Scotland programmes and a range of planning support related topics which can be delivered on an in-house basis for individual authorities or groups of authorities joining together.

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Get value for money with in-house training - 18/07/11

Training budgets may be extremely tight at the moment, but neglecting training often proves to be short-sighted. It is precisely in times like these when you really need your key resources - i.e. your staff - to be working effectively and efficiently.

Commissioning in-house training from TRA makes real economic sense at any time, but especially in the current climate. Organising a workshop on an in-house basis represents a unique opportunity to have training which matches the requirements of the staff and the authority, delivered in a way which is both cost effective and convenient.

TRA has extensive experience of delivering in-house training for staff involved in the Development Management process, having trained staff in over 220 authorities.

Examples of the Development Management workshops currently on offer include:

  • An Introduction to Development Management
  • The Basics of Planning
  • Certificates of Lawfulness
  • Design in Planning Applications: how to add value
  • Trees, landscape and ecology for planners
  • Negotiation Skills: the key to achieving planning goals and objectives
  • Permitted Development
  • Pre-Application Discussions: engaging as part of the Development Management process
  • Environmental Impact Assessment

A full list can be viewed on our website which also includes sessions on Appeals (see below article on Appearing at Hearings), Enforcement, Planning Obligations and Sustainability. Please note that we are more than happy to consider designing bespoke/tailored workshops for individual clients if required, so let us know if you have any specific requirements.

In-house workshops can easily be organised for a single local authority or for a group of neighbouring authorities joining together. Joint sessions have proved particularly useful for smaller authorities where they don't have quite enough staff to make an in-house session viable themselves. See the advantages for the client authority when running in-house training.

The prices we quote are inclusive of all of our fees, presenter's expenses and pre-course/course documentation. This means that there are no 'hidden extras' and our clients are aware from the outset what they can expect to pay at the invoicing stage. To see an outline programme for any of our in-house sessions, or to have a no-commitment discussion about in-house training, please contact Angela Holmes.

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Appearing at Hearings: develop your skills and confidence - 13/07/11

Appearing at appeal hearings is an important part of a planning officer's work with around 1 in 8 planning appeals being dealt with via this method (2009/10 figures from PINS). In many cases, however, the planning officer is essentially on his/her own when dealing with a Hearing and this can be a daunting prospect, especially for those with little or no previous experience. But getting some advice and guidance on what to expect and how best to prepare can help allay many of the concerns and ultimately prove invaluable for both the officer and their authority.

With this in mind, TRA offers a highly practical workshop on Hearings skills and procedures. Appearing at Hearings provides a structured opportunity for sharing and developing experience of Hearings. It includes a thorough briefing on procedures, style and good practice, followed by a "mock" hearing, using a real case study.

Specific objectives of the workshop are:

  • to equip participants with a clear understanding of Hearings as a method of appeal
  • to explore particular aspects of Hearings which cause difficulty
  • to clarify the roles of the different participants
  • to consider and compare practice in presentation
  • to improve the performance of participants at Hearings
  • to enhance good practice in handling Hearings.

This workshop is delivered by two members of the TRA presenting team, David Kaiserman and Sue Glover; and has been run many times with positive feedback, most recently on an in-house basis for Plymouth City Council:

  • Excellent to have advice on best practice from actual practitioners, valuable CPD (continuing professional development). Matthew Coombe
  • I found the course very informative and relevant. The content was appropriate and will be useful when dealing with future appeals. The presentations were very good, as was the structure of the course. Robert Heard
  • Very comprehensive with all relevant points that I can think of addressed. Excellent knowledge from course presenters which formed a vital foundation for the success of the course. Thomas Westrope
  • As someone who has had no previous experience of appeals and hearings I found the training very informative. The mock hearings were a great way to understand the format and nature of hearings. Katie Fry
  • Very good training - I would recommend to others. Great idea to have role play and talk us through what we can expect. Melanie Starr.

Please note that the Appearing at Hearings workshop is also running on an inter-authority basis in Edinburgh, on 27th October and again in London, on 22nd November - for more details on our inter-authority workshops please contact Shelagh Pooley.

TRA also offers several other professional workshops, on an in-house only basis, to assist with Appeals and Examinations, details of which can be found on our website. For more information, such as an outline programme, please feel free to contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

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Involved in planning? Then you should be involved in the Planning Admin Network ... - 06/07/11

The Planning Admin Network (PAN) is an initiative developed by TRA in 2006 as part of its ongoing commitment to providing learning and development opportunities for planning administrative and support staff. Although originally developed mainly to assist this particular staff group, PAN would be of benefit to ANYONE who has an interest or involvement in the way that the town planning systems are administered in England, Scotland and Wales. It offers a unique opportunity to contact people working in similar roles and share experiences, advice, problems etc.

The network is operated online and offers several features, such as:

  • an interactive Discussion Forum
  • a news page, which is updated on a monthly basis
  • a Useful Links page, signposting other websites which might be helpful
  • a Training page, with an online calendar feature detailing up-coming TRA workshops

The Discussion Forum in particular is a very popular and useful feature (according to our PAN member survey dated Aug 2010). Members have the opportunity to pose questions and/or share their own knowledge and experience with others working in similar roles. One thread entitled 'Planning Information on the Web' has so far received 454 views and has been responded to on a number of occasions by PAN members wishing to assist their colleagues in other LPAs.

Another popular feature of PAN is the PAN News page. The news page is updated monthly and is packed full of interesting and useful articles about planning administration and the wider planning context such as new legislation, current consultations etc. The content is provided by TRA Senior Associate, Vivien Green, whom many of you will already be familiar with. Vivien also oversees the discussions in the Forum and offers advice and opinion when required. You can view PDF copies of the May 2011 and June 2011 editions of PAN News to give you an idea of the content.

PAN membership is absolutely FREE and it only takes a minute to sign up online (see below). Please note that we are particularly keen to increase the number of members from Scotland and Wales; especially as PAN news regularly contains articles specifically relating to these areas, so spread the word!

To find out more you can visit the PAN website, or to join PAN now just click here. If you have any queries or comments about PAN then 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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