ENews Issue - 30 September 2011

ENews - September 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:

  • Improve your planning agreements monitoring and accountability
  • TRA's Environmental certification renewed
  • Additional speaker lined up for the Enforcement Forum
  • Developing 'Good Practice' for Planning Committee Chairs/Vice-Chairs
  • Involved in Planning Enforcement? Check out these TRA workshops!
  • Suggest a workshop topic for 2012
  • Bespoke training solutions from TRA




Improve your planning agreements monitoring and accountability - 26/09/11

In the current economic situation it is imperative that LPAs effectively monitor monies received through planning agreements and ensure that they are spent appropriately and efficiently. It has never been more important to make sure that there are systems in place for monitoring and accountability and, crucially, that they work. This will be particularly important when neighbourhood groups are able to access monies held by LPAs for community projects, as proposed in the Localism Bill.

Our recently updated and re-focused workshop - Planning Obligations: improving monitoring and accountability - running in Manchester on 3 November, provides practical guidance for those involved in, or in the process of setting up, monitoring arrangements. It is appropriate for:

  • planning officers
  • enforcement staff
  • specialist monitoring officers
  • legal officers dealing with s106 agreements
  • development officers from beneficiary departments (eg housing, highways, education etc)
  • corporate finance staff concerned with ensuring that money is received and spent properly.

As a result of attending, participants will have a clear awareness of the steps needed to develop or improve monitoring arrangements in their own authorities and will be encouraged to implement these in a deliberate and systematic manner. It will equip them with:

  • an awareness of the significance of monitoring and the level of finance/benefits potentially involved
  • an appreciation of the principles of monitoring
  • understanding of the mechanisms and models for monitoring and enforcing agreements
  • techniques applicable to various categories of agreement eg commuted sums, affordable housing
  • techniques for monitoring the correct apportionment of finance and benefits received, including where inter-authority arrangements are involved
  • knowledge of the organisational and financial arrangements, including how to assess which costs can/should be charged to developers and how costs should be apportioned when distributing funds to neighbourhood groups
  • the role of s106 and CIL.

Full details of the workshop, including the presenter, can be found on our website. Places can be booked by downloading and returning the booking form or they can be reserved provisionally for a short period by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

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TRA's Environmental certification renewed - 24/09/11

We are delighted to announce that earlier this month, TRA's certification under the British Standard ISO 14001 for its Environmental Management System (EMS) was renewed for a further three years, following a two-stage assessment by the awarding body.

Details of our Environmental Policy Statement and Certificate are available on the website.

The purpose of our EMS is to identify, monitor and minimise the impacts of our business operation on the environment. The areas that we are concentrating on in particular include:

  • reducing the carbon-footprint of our travel around the UK by using public transport wherever possible
  • minimising our use of natural resources, particularly paper
  • recycling and reduction of waste to land-fill, and
  • minimising the emission of greenhouse gases, especially in relation to the day-to-day operation of our head office.

There are also several ways in which you, as our customers, can help us to achieve our environmental objectives:

  1. you can sign-up to receive our publicity material by email instead of by post - just visit the mailing list page on the website (this will help us to continue reducing our consumption of paper)
  2. if you are attending any of our inter-authority events, please travel by public transport wherever this is practical, or car-share if you are travelling with colleagues (we do our best to select venues which are accessible by public transport)
  3. again, if you attend any of our inter-authority events, please remember to hand in your badge (plus any unused hand-outs etc) to the receptionist at the end of the day for recycling (our badges can be re-used several times and it is important that we are able to do this)
  4. if you are looking for training options, you could consider asking TRA to deliver training for you on an in-house basis ie where we come to you (this is not only more environmentally friendly but it can also be more cost-effective).
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Additional speaker lined up for the Enforcement Forum - 23/09/11

As mentioned in previous issues of Enews, the latest TRA Forum on Enforcement is due to take place in Manchester on 20 October 2011.

As a result of booking levels for this event being higher than anticipated, we are pleased to announce that an extra speaker has been invited to join the line up of contributors and provide a third parallel session.

Matthew Farmer, Planning Enforcement Team Leader with Shropshire Council, will be giving a presentation entitled 'Getting to grips with Abandonment' in which he will explore the concept of abandonment, identify criteria to be used in analysing whether or not abandonment of a use has occurred, and the implications for planning enforcement working practices.

Details of the other speakers, topics to be covered and booking forms for those who have still to book their place, can be found on our website. Places are still available but prompt booking is recommended at this stage. Don't forget the money saving offers available for multiple bookings on this event, as detailed in last month's Enews and on the website.

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Developing 'Good Practice' for Planning Committee Chairs/Vice-Chairs - 21/09/11

It seems that every Council has different arrangements, practices and procedures when it comes to the organisation and running of their Committee(s) dealing with planning matters. TRA has vast experience of training, advising and observing Planning/DM Committees and has been able to identify examples of good practice and a range of pitfalls and inconsistencies. Based on this experience, TRA was recently commissioned to deliver a half-day training session at Waverley Borough Council on 'Good Practice for Committees'.

The session provided practical examples across a wide range of issues surrounding, in particular, the proper determination of planning applications by a local authority Committee. Specific topics considered in terms of good/best practice included:

  • delegation arrangements
  • pre-committee meetings and briefings
  • handling submissions received after Committee report publication (late information)
  • public address at Committee
  • handling the debate
  • site visits/inspections
  • decisions against officer advice.

The workshop, which was also attended by members from Mole Valley DC, was delivered by TRA Senior Associate and experienced Councillor training presenter, Lee Prebble, and course feedback was very positive:

  • Very informative, time went quickly. Cllr Elizabeth Cable, Waverley BC
  • Very useful exchange of ideas and information. Cllr John Ward, Waverley BC
  • Good to hear of other council's procedures and how to ensure that decisions can be upheld. Cllr Hunt, Mole Valley DC
  • Good clarity on all aspects. Elizabeth Sims, DC Manager, Waverley BC.

This workshop is available exclusively on an in-house basis, as either a half or full day session; and works best with around 10-15 participants, although other group sizes would be considered. It is appropriate for Planning Committee Chairs, Vice Chairs and other Councillors who are significantly involved in the Planning/DM Committee.

We are always happy to consider tailoring our sessions to ensure they meet with an individual client's needs, so if you are interested in discussing the content of this workshop or would like to see an outline programme, then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

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Involved in Planning Enforcement? Check out these TRA workshops! - 21/09/11

TRA has long held the belief that Enforcement is a vital yet complex aspect of the planning system and over the years has provided numerous training opportunities for those involved in this area. In addition to our annual Forum on Enforcement and the Certificated Modular Courses we offer, our Enforcement related one-day workshops suitable for a range of staff including Planning Officers, Enforcement Officers and Legal staff, are also very popular. A number of these workshops are coming up soon in our 2011 Training Programme and further details for each one can be found on the website by clicking on the appropriate link:

  • Planning Enforcement in Practice: the core elements in details (NEW FOR 2011) - Manchester, 3 November

    This workshop, best suited to those with some experience of enforcement, or as a follow on to our 'Basics of Planning Enforcement' workshop, focuses on the nuts and bolts of handling enforcement complaints, getting information to assess a breach, drafting a report on expediency, and the use of enforcement notices. There will also be an opportunity to look at what went wrong with some real enforcement notices and whether they can be rectified on appeal.
  • The Basics of Planning Enforcement - London, 22 November

    This workshop aimed at those directly involved in enforcement work, including new and relatively inexperienced enforcement staff, covers aspects including what can be enforced - the definition of development and what constitutes unauthorised development; the immunity rules; how to deal with complaints; evidence collection; effective use of the enforcement toolkit; and practical steps to make enforcement more efficient and effective.
  • Permitted Development - York, 29 November

    This ever-relevant and popular workshop looks at how PD works, provides some crucial definitions and help in interpreting and applying the most frequently used classes of PD. As well as helping participants develop the knowledge and confidence essential in dealing with this complex aspect of planning, the workshop will provide a useful look at Householder PD, consider the Government's proposals for further changes and how to actually handle PD enquiries.

Booking forms for all these workshops can be found on our website by following the appropriate link above. Alternatively, places can be reserved provisionally by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility. Bookings of 2 or more places will receive a discount of between 10 and 15% under our block booking system (depending on the total number of places booked). A block booking form with further details can be downloaded in pdf format here.

Please note - if you have a number of staff interested in a particular topic, all of these workshops are available to be run on an in-house basis for one or a group of neighbouring authorites. Further details of this option are also on the website.

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Suggest a workshop topic for 2012 - 16/09/11

With the second half of our 2011 workshop programmes now well under-way, our thoughts have turned to the development of our programmes for 2012.

If there are any particular topics you would like to see covered in our small-group workshop format (maximum 20 participants, involving practical exercises and discussion) then we'd be very pleased to receive your suggestions. Just let us have brief details by email to promotion@tra-ltd.co.uk and we will consider them for inclusion in next year's programme.

To refresh your memory on the topics covered in 2011, you can view summaries of our England and Scotland programmes online.

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Bespoke training solutions from TRA - 09/09/11

TRA has vast experience in preparing bespoke and tailored training sessions for our clients, and it was on this basis that Hertfordshire County Council recently commissioned us to develop and deliver a one-day workshop for officers from across the county on the Implications of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).

The NPPF is a key part of the Government's reforms to make the planning system less complex, more accessible, and to help promote sustainable growth. On 25th July 2011, the Government published the draft NPPF, which will replace the series of Planning Policy Guidance Notes (PPG) and Planning Policy Statements (PPS).

The workshop looked at the contents of the draft document which in turn formed the basis of discussions on the possible implications for the authorities' in the Hertfordshire area. The training covered the main points of the document, including topics such as business and economic development; housing and design; climate change and the natural environment, to name a few. On completion of the training a follow-up report was presented to the authority which summarised the main conclusions from the day. This was designed to help them highlight the issues which might form the basis of the authority's response to the Government's consultation which runs until 17th October, 2011.

Feedback from the session, which was developed and delivered by TRA Senior Associate, Jed Griffiths, was very positive:

  • A very comprehensive day on the National Planning Policy Framework. Thank you!
  • Thorough, comprehensive, easy to understand and not overly biased.
  • Thanks. Very useful and gave us lots of 'food for thought'.
  • Very thorough, learned a lot. The presenter was his usual, well-informed self.
  • Gave good background to proposed changes in the system. Whilst I am not specifically involved in the planning process, the insight was helpful.
  • Very useful summary and very thought provoking workshop. Useful to meet up and discuss with colleagues from diverse areas and authorities.
  • I found the training very useful. It was an enjoyable experience and I left knowing more than when I arrived!

TRA are always happy to consider designing in-house workshops to suit an individual client; so if you have any particular requirements that you do not see on our website, but would like to discuss in more detail, 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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