ENews Issue - 31 August 2011

ENews - August 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:

  • Delivering Affordable Housing in Scotland
  • Certificated enforcement course: just 2 places left for introductory module
  • Speaker on Beesley case confirmed for Enforcement Forum
  • Certificates of Lawfulness: what are they and how should they be handled?
  • Understanding Viability: key concepts in development economics for planners
  • Making training for support staff more affordable
  • Assisting members with decision making




Delivering Affordable Housing in Scotland - 31/08/11

In July's edition of ENews, we featured our brand new workshop on Delivering Affordable Housing. The workshop is included in both our England and Scotland programmes in 2011 but at that time we were awaiting final details for the publicity leaflet for the Scottish workshop. We are pleased to say that the leaflet/booking form is now available for the workshop taking place in Glasgow on 17 November.

The workshop is highly interactive and aimed at town planners and developers involved in the delivery of affordable housing in Scotland. The day is in two distinct parts: the morning provides an overview of the wider changes affecting affordable housing delivery, especially funding, and in the afternoon participants will be able to think about their roles in assisting the continued delivery of affordable housing through policy and implementation.

The workshop is delivered by Rachel Danemann, who is Affordable Housing Officer with South Hams DC in Devon and is studying in Scotland for a PhD researching affordable housing delivery.

If you would like to book a place, you can complete and return the booking form. Places can also be reserved provisionally by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisonal booking facility.

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Certificated enforcement course: just 2 places left for introductory module - 30/08/11

The "introductory" module in TRA's certificated course in planning enforcement will be running in October and November but there are just two places left. Providing an ideal opportunity for new students to join the programme, this module will not be running again for another 12 months so you need to get in touch now if you would like to attend.

The course programme is modular - consisting of 5 modules - and although it is not essential to attend the Key Principles of Planning and Enforcement module first, we recommend it wherever possible since it provides a valuable grounding for the other modules.

The Key Principles 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. Full details of this module and what it covers, and of the enforcement programme as a whole can be found on our website.

Below are some comments from people who have attended the Key Principles module and you can also see comments from previous students on the enforcement programme as a whole on the website.

  • As a means of establishing a greater understanding of the planning enforcement function and its legislative foundation; what the function is intended to achieve; and how to use the tools available to their full potential, I cannot recommend this course more highly. Alan Barrett, South Derbyshire DC
  • As I have only been an enforcement officer for 8 months, this was a good module to start with as I have been able to build on what I have learned. Carmel Driscoll, Mid Suffolk DC
  • Having worked in enforcement for over 4 years, I went with a certain knowledge to the course. However, I was surprised how much I did not know! The information was relevant and the presentation easily understood. I entered the course with a little trepidation but left feeling encouraged and better informed. Justine Warner, Melton BC
  • The training has helped my authority operate its enforcement function in line with best practice. Michelle Hoyles, North Kesteven DC.

For further information or to reserve your place on the October/November module please contact Shelagh Pooley as soon as possible.

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Speaker on Beesley case confirmed for Enforcement Forum - 30/08/11

TRA's latest Forum on Enforcement will take place in Manchester on 20 October and there is still time to book your place. With just under two months to go, booking is going well and we are expecting another excellent event this year.

After a short delay, we are delighted that the speaker for the second parallel session has now been confirmed as Lisa Hughes, DC Team Leader (South) with Welwyn Hatfield Council. Lisa will be looking at the the outcome of Welwyn Hatfield Council's high profile case against Beesley (the barn that was always to be a dwelling) when it came before the Supreme Court. See http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2010_0036_Judgement.pdf for further information. She will be focusing on the interpretation of s171B of the Act on "immunity" and the circumstances when the "Connor Principle" can be applied to breaches of planning control. Also, as there are not many planners or enforcement officers who have followed a case all the way to the Supreme Court (and she got a mention in the judgement), she will be telling us what s he learnt from the experience and passing on some "best practice" advice.

Details of the other topics being covered at the Forum, and details of how to book, can be found on our website. To make your money go that little bit further, there are a couple of discount options available:

  • book 2 places and get a 10% discount under our regular block booking scheme
  • book 3 places and get 50% off the third place, and off any subsequent bookings.

For those of you familiar with TRA's Forum you will notice that it is not being held in Warrington as usual but at our established Manchester venue - Staff House Conference Centre. The Centre is ideally located for travel by rail as it is just a few minutes walk from both Piccadilly and Oxford Road stations.

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Certificates of Lawfulness: what are they and how should they be handled? - 25/08/11

Certificates of Lawfulness were introduced in 1991 and can be used for establishing both immunity from enforcement action or the need for planning permission. If handled correctly they can be a versatile tool. TRA recently introduced a workshop on this subject into our Scotland Training Programme for Planning and Development Practitioners and it is about to run again on 6 October 2011 in Glasgow.

This practical workshop will examine the effect and content of both Existing (S150) and Proposed (Section 151) Use Certificates using a mixture of presentations, case studies and group exercises. Applications for Certificates are variously dealt with by planning, enforcement or legal officers and if their consideration falls within your area of work you will benefit from attending. On the other hand, if you are employed in the private sector, having a good understanding of how to prepare and submit Certificate applications can be of considerable advantage to your clients.

The workshop will be lead by Mike Hyde, an independant planning consultant with almost 20 years previous experience in development control and enforcement gained whilst working for two National Park Authorities and a Local Planning Authority. Some of that time was also spent on secondment to the position of Planning Service Improvement Officer, with responsibilities including the implementation of e-Planning and the provisons of the Planning etc (scotland) Act 2006.

Further details for the workshop can be found on our website where you will also find a downloadable booking form. Places on the workshop can be reserved provisionally if you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, either by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

Please note - the Scotland training programme also includes two workshops due to run on 22 September 2011 in Edinburgh on which a number of places are still available, however prompt booking is recommended at this stage:

Planning Enforcement: an essential update and Character and Appearance as a Material Consideration (NEW) (only last few places remaining) - just follow these links for more details.

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Understanding Viability: key concepts in development economics for planners - 12/08/11

In the current economic situation the need to be able to understand a development's viability has become an important issue for planners. An understanding of viability can have a significant bearing on whether a development goes ahead and, if so, what benefits might accrue to the local community.

TRA has recently developed a workshop aimed at all local authority planning and development staff who are engaged in policy implementation and development management, where the need to judge the viability of plans and projects is now vital.

The workshop will be particularly relevant to staff who work with and negotiate with commercial developers to assess contributions under a planning agreement. As a result of taking part in the workshop, participants should be able to understand how developers approach financial appraisal; be able to assess in broad terms the viability of proposals; and appreciate the financial impact of conditions and planning agreements under consideration. The workshop will also review the negotiation positions typically adopted by developers and how to counter them through the planning process. Use will be made of basic financial models including the layout of Excel spreadsheets and there will be a review of the available software packages.

The workshop is scheduled to run on an inter-authority basis in both our England/Wales and Scotland programmes this Autumn on 11 October 2011 in London and 6 October 2011 in Glasgow.

Please note that since the workshops were originally advertised, there has been a change to the presenter and both workshops will now be led by Simon Rowberry, Managing Director of a public sector only management and support consultancy and formerly Director of Operations at Cannock Chase Council. Simon has extensive experience in negotiationg developer contributions on major housing, employment and retail sites, in both the public and private sectors.

Further details and booking forms for both the London and Glasgow workshops can be obtained from the website by clicking on the relevant link above. Provisional bookings can be made to reserve places either by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

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Making training for support staff more affordable - 12/08/11

At TRA we acknowledge the vital role played by planning support and administrative staff in the delivery of the planning service and our experience has shown that to be fully effective they need to be properly trained. TRA has been providing training tailored to the needs of this key staff group for many years, on both an inter-authority and in-house basis. But, we also acknowledge that securing funding for training can be difficult when budgets are tight and we have seen that training for support staff can be particularly vulnerable in this respect.

But, with a little bit of organisational effort on the part of the authority, it is possible to provide training more economically by joining with other authorities and commissioning an in-house training course from TRA. Joining with other authorities means you are much more likely to be able to fill all the spaces available on a workshop (normally 20), giving you maximum value for money. We deal with one authority as our client: they provide the venue and handle the liaison with TRA and are then free to make appropriate financial arrangements with the others involved.

This sort of approach fits in well with the current move towards sharing resources among local authorities and is being adopted by more and more of our clients. It can provide opportunities to develop new working relationships or take advantage of existing ones. Another key advantage of in-house training is that the content and format can be tailored to the needs of those involved. Within reason, most of our existing courses can be adapted as required and we are also happy to develop completely new and bespoke courses, although this can include an additional charge. Some previous participant feedback from our in-house training for support staff is available on our website.

Existing workshops include:

  • The Basics of Planning
  • The Essential Elements of Support for Planning and Listed Building Control
  • Permitted Development
  • Supporting the Historic Environment Regime
  • Supporting the Processing of Planning Applications: a workshop for experienced technical and administrative staff
  • An Introduction to the Key Elements of Planning Enforcement

More details, including a full list of the workshops on offer is available on our website.

If you are interested in a particular workshop and would like to tailor it to your specific requirements, then please do not hesitate to ask. Alternatively if you would like any further information on our range of standard training sessions for support staff, including an outline programme, then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes for a no-commitment discussion.

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Assisting members with decision making - 10/08/11

TRA has been specialising in training Councillors in planning for over 15 years, and has conducted in house assignments involving thousands of Councillors in over 210 authorities throughout England, Wales and Scotland.

We are always happy to consider developing bespoke training sessions for our clients and on this basis were recently commissioned by South Kesteven Borough Council to design a half-day session for Councillors.

Aimed at those members who already had a reasonable level of experience of town planning, Decision Making in Planning concentrated on the often confusing factors which Councillors can, and cannot, have regard to in the determination of planning applications. Using a real life case study to help reinforce key points, the session looked at specific areas such as material considerations, the role of the development plan, national policy, and the consultation/notification process. In addition, the possible implications of the Localism Bill and the National Planning Policy Framework were also discussed.

The session was prepared and presented by TRA Senior Associate, Jed Griffiths, and participant feedback was excellent:

  • Very well presented and setting out, in a pragmatic way, the concerns we will face. Cllr Debbie Wren
  • I found it all very interesting. Very, very useful and helped to give me more confidence. Cllr Helen Powell
  • Better than I expected - brought many issues to the forefront. Cllr Rosemary Kaberry-Brown
  • As usual, First Class! Cllr Jacky Smith.

We are pleased to announce that this session is now available, exclusively on an in-house basis, for all other authorities; with flexible timing in a morning, afternoon or evening. If you would like more information, such as an outline programme, then please do not hesitate 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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