ENews Issue - 28 October 2011

ENews - October 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:

  • Round-up of final events in 2011
  • Certificated Training on Planning Enforcement - next modules begin in January
  • Help us spread the word about TRA
  • Delivering Affordable Housing - still time to book on this brand new workshop!
  • Latest Enforcement Forum - over 90 people take part
  • Salford City Council - Providing training that meets the needs of their Councillors
  • Planning Enforcement - brush up on the basics

Round-up of final events in 2011

Our 2011 workshop programmes in England and Scotland will come to an end at the end of November, but there are 7 events running between now and then and it's not too late to book.

The topics being covered are:

  • Planning Enforcement in Practice: the core elements in detail
  • Design in Development Management: adding value to mainstream applications
  • Appearing at Hearings
  • The Basics of Planning Enforcement
  • Delivering Affordable Housing (see full article in this month's ENews)
  • Trees, Landscape and Ecology for Planners, and
  • Permitted Development.

Take a look at our event calendar for details of dates and locations.

And don't forget - if the workshop you want is not running near you, you could always think about asking TRA to run it in-house for you and your colleagues and perhaps neighbouring authorities too. Contact Angela Holmes for more information with no obligation.

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Certificated Training on Planning Enforcement - next modules begin in January

The next two modules in TRA's Certificated Course on Planning Enforcement are due to commence early in the New Year. This extremely popular modular training programme was orginally developed by TRA in conjunction with the University of Cambridge, and successful completion of four out of the five modules available will lead to the award of the "Certificate in Planning Enforcement". However, we are pleased to have people attend individual modules on topics of particular relevance to them on a "one-off" basis.


Advertisement control is a particularly complex area for enforcement. Staff involved need to have a thorough grasp of the statutory, regulatory, policy and practical issues involved and the procedural steps required to ensure that appropriate enforcement action can be taken and substantiated. Some of the areas covered in the module include: legislation relating to advertising; definition of what is an advertisement; enforcement powers and when it is expedient to use them; prosecutions relating to advertisements; and consideration of proactive approaches to advertisement control. Further details of the module can be found on our website.

For each module, students are required to attend two two-day Tutorial Sessions at Madingley Hall in Cambridge, and complete project work based on their own work situation. Because of this, a certain level of commitment is required but ultimately the student will gain a systematic framework for their job, and invaluable knowledge and skills which can make real improvements to their day-to-day work, their own professional development, and also be of great benefit to their authority.

If you are interested in reserving a place on this module, booking forms can be downloaded from the website. If you are unable to make a confirmed booking straight away, we do recommend making a provisional booking to avoid disappointment by contacting Shelagh Pooley on 01204 385678 or shelagh@tra-ltd.co.uk, or via the provisional bookings page on our website.


This module considers in detail the working practices of enforcement and how they can be improved. It is especially suited to experienced enforcement/development control staff and those responsible for managing enforcement. Further details of the many aspects covered by the module can be found here.

This module is 'provisionally' fully booked at the moment, but if you would be interested in attending, please get in touch and we will add your name to the waiting list, and contact you should a place subsequently become available.

Details of the other modules available and the certificated programme as a whole can also be found on the TRA website.

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Help us spread the word about TRA

One of the keys to TRA's success over the past 25+ years has been the solid reputation we have built up. This reputation is based on the fact that we provide both quality services and value for money and it has grown over time thanks to the many clients who have felt comfortable in recommending us, allowing us to publish their feedback, or simply suggesting that colleagues take a look at what we offer. "Word of mouth" is extermely important to us.

Naturally, if you are able to recommend TRA from personal experience that is much appreciated. So if you attend one of our events, either at an external venue or in-house at your own organisation, and would be happy to share your thoughts about the course with others please do take the time to complete our evaluation slip and provide your name. This enables us to publish feedback that potential participants might find helpful.

But even if you haven't yet tried out our services for yourself but can see that they may be of interest to people you know, then there are still ways in which you can help spread the word:

  • If you spot something on our website that you would like to pass on to a colleague you can make use of our "Email Page" function. You'll find this towards the top right hand corner of each page (with a little brown envelope icon). Clicking on this allows you to enter the name and email address of the person you would like to send the page to and gives you space to write a short message to go with it. They will then receive an email from TRA saying that you have suggested they take a look at that particular page. Simple!
  • In a similar vein, if you know someone who may find this ENewsletter of interest then please do forward it on. If they like what they see, they can subscribe straight away - there is a box right at the bottom of the newsletter where they simply enter their email address to receive their own copy of TRA ENews in future. Alternatively, they can sign-up via our website.
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Delivering Affordable Housing - still time to book on this brand new workshop!

As mentioned in previous editions of Enews, TRA has introduced a brand new workshop for the 2011 training programme on Delivering Affordable Housing.

The significant changes to housing and planning policies and their implementation as envisaged in both the Localism Bill and the Welfare Reform Bill, combined with wider public sector spending cuts will impact greatly on affordable housing delivery. This interactive workshop aimed at town planners involved in the delivery of affordable housing through policy making and development management will consider: changes to housng benefits and funding affordable housing; issues around management; nomination agreements; choice-based letting; and zero-carbon homes standard.

The workshop will also focus on opportunities for community led housing initiatives such as Community Land Trusts and Local Housing Trusts and what local authorities can do to support these schemes. There will be an opportunity to consider how planners can rise to the new challenges, and draw on examples of intiatives and good practice from the UK and abroad. Additionally, the workshop will look at what proactive steps local authorities can take to maximise affordable housing delivery, including support for neighbourhood plans and the Community Right to Build.

The workshop will take place in London on 22 November 2011 and a number of places are still available, however prompt booking is recommended at this stage. Further details of the workshop and booking forms are available to download from our website. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings can be made to reserve places by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

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Latest Enforcement Forum - over 90 people take part

TRA has always recognised that the integrity of the entire planning system depends on effective enforcement and our annual Forum on Enforcement provides valuable CPD for the wide range of people involved in enforcement work. It also offers the opportunity, particularly during the parallel workshop sessions and over lunch and coffee breaks, for practitioners to exchange ideas, discuss enforcement issues and meet colleagues.

We were very pleased that, despite the difficult financial times, this year's Forum on Enforcement was very well attended, with some people travelling considerable distances to get there. For those of you who were not able to attend, here's what you missed...

The problem of what is a "condition precedent" is of considerable practical concern for enforcement and an area of planning law which has developed over recent years through numerous court cases. Barrister Sarah Clover from No5 Chambers in Birmingham considered some of the landmark cases in the opening plenary session and, following the recent Court of Appeal judgement in the Greyfort case, posed the question: are there still grey areas in conditions precedent? Sarah set out the tests for distinguishing between a "true" condition precedent (which, if not complied with, would render the whole of the development unlawul) and what she described as a "common or garden" condition precedent (which would not). This is not an easy concept and Sarah thoughtfully provided delegates with a written explanation of her arguments and reference to the relevant cases. Her paper is likely to become a valuable source of reference for many practitioner s.

Delegates then had the choice of two out of three parallel sessions:

  • Lisa Hughes, DC/Enforcement Team Leader with Welwyn Hatfield Council, talked about her involvement in the Beesley case (a building built as a barn on the outside but as a dwelling on the inside). Starting from the refusal of an LDC, she led us through the subsequent stages: the Inspector rejecting the Council's argument; the Council winning in the High Court; then CLG and Beelsey winning in the Court of Appeal on a somewhat artificial argument about "nil" use. Bravely, in the current financial climate, the Council decided to pursue the matter to the Supreme Court. Sarah explained the arguments put forward and the finer points of the Supreme Court judgement as they found for the Council in relation to the "immunity" period. Considering application of the "Connor Principle" to the case (that no one should be able to benefit from their wrong doing), the Law Lords then found that, as Mr Beesley had set out with the e xpress intention to deceive the Council, his actions had placed him outside the scope of the Planning Act (so he would have lost the case, even if he had won on the first ground). The meticulous record keeping by Lisa and her colleagues proved invaluable in making the Council's case. This, of course, is only the end of a chapter in the "planning history": we will all be looking out to see what happens next.
  • Russell Sharland, Team Leader with Swindon Council's Corporate Enforcement Team, ran a very useful session on Investigative Skills, testing participants' knowledge before going on to consider some key principles. He talked about the responsibilities of the investigator, the relevant Codes of Practice, and careful consideration of who to prosecute, particularly for offences concerning adverts. He concluded by considering whether enforcement is making effective use of the Proceeds of Crime Act, especially after prosecutions involving some of the major advertising companies.
  • "Abandonment" can be a tricky problem for planners and enforcement officers and, in general, is a concept that is not well understood. Matthew Farmer, Planning Enforcement Team Leader with Shropshire Council, began his session by reviewing relevant case law on the subject. From this, he identified the "tests" that should be applied in analysing and justifying a decision that a use has, or has not, been abandoned. Using cases from his own authority, he then went on to look at the implications of enforcement working practices, setting out some useful guidelines.

Vivien Green, TRA Senior Associate, provided a brief update on the progress of the Localism Bill and the enforcement provisions it will provide us with. She also urged those interested in the planning system in Wales to get involved in the forthcoming review of planning which is intended to form the basis of the first Welsh Planning Act.

Mike Hyde, Planning Consultant, TRA Associate and former Enforcement Officer, ended the day with a lively and amusing session looking at what he'd personally learnt from the Forum over the years, regardless of whether he was working as "gamekeeper" or "poacher". His key messages, whichever side of the fence you work on, were about the importance to negotiations and resolution of enforcement problems of understanding key issues, such as what constitutes development, as well as some of the finer points of practice that had been discussed during the day.

The date for the 2012 Forum on Enforcement is currently being agreed so look out for that in future editions of ENews and reserve your place early.

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Salford City Council - Providing training that meets the needs of their Councillors

Salford City Council recently commissioned TRA to develop a bespoke, half day training workshop for their members entitled 'A Briefing on Key Planning Questions'. The main aim of the training was to help members improve support to citizens in relation to planning, and in particular planning applications. This was achieved by developing their understanding of planning and enabling them to provide answers to questions about why planning permission is needed, how planning applications are determined, and how planning enforcement works.

The training addressed these key questions by looking briefly at:

  • what is "development"
  • the concept of "Permitted Development (PD)" and how it works
  • consultation, notification and publicity for planning applications
  • the basis on which planning applications are refused or approved and the use of conditions
  • what is a breach of planning control
  • the importance of assessing "expediency" and "harm"
  • appeals

Appropriate reference was also made to the Localism Bill, which is currently going through Parliament, and the implications for current planning and enforcement practice. At the end of the training members had a better understanding of planning processes and their implications, and were more confident in dealing with queries; therefore improving their ability to meet the needs of the community and local residents.

The workshop was prepared and delivered by Vivien Green, Senior Associate of TRA, and was delivered twice, on consecutive days, to ensure that all members had the opportunity to attend.

Course feedback was excellent:

  • Met my expectations and more besides. I am more informed now, and feel more comfortable and confident going to planning with constituents. Cllr Christine Hudson
  • Very useful and informative overview, with more detailed discussion whenever questions/issues were raised. Cllr Lisa Stone
  • Did the session meet my expectations? Very much so - excellent. Very good briefing - half a day well spent. Cllr George Wilson
  • Totally met my expectations and more. This was an excellent workshop and I would like to attend another one. Cllr Karen Garrido
  • Exceeded expectations. Well presented, precise and questions were answered fully. Cllr Robin Garrido
  • Excellent journey through the planning process and its technical/philosophical background. Good practical grounding. Cllr Adrian Brocklehurst

If you have any specific member training requirements then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes for a no-commitment discussion. We are more than happy to discuss developing bespoke sessions, or tailoring existing sessions, to ensure that we deliver training that meets with an individual client's needs.

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Planning Enforcement - brush up on the basics

TRA was recently commissioned to deliver its popular training workshop on The Basics of Planning Enforcement for Falkirk Council.

Topics covered included:

  • the definition of development and what constitutes unauthorised development
  • the immunity rules
  • what can, and what should be, enforced?
  • expediency
  • how to deal with complaints
  • evidence collection
  • the enforcement toolkit and how to use it effectively.

The workshop was presented by TRA presenter, Michael Hyde, and course feedback was excellent:

  • This enforcement workshop met my needs in respect of me now being more aware of the process and the limitations of the enforcement officers. This will assist me in the enquiry and complaints side of my position within Development Management.
  • My level of expectation was met. I had hoped to receive an update on current Enforcement issues in planning in Scotland, and the presenter did just that. He also provided me with a good understanding of Enforcement procedures available to planners and current practice employed elsewhere.
  • A very good workshop which was of great benefit. The course was well structured and well presented by the presenter. It also allowed for interaction by participants throughout the day.
  • It gave a good, basic coverage of enforcement matters. The style of presentation, I think, helped to generate a good level of healthy debate and varying opinions on a number of matters.

The workshop is aimed at DM staff who are either directly or indirectly involved in enforcement work or who wish to have a contextual understanding of the system; as well as relatively new or less experienced enforcement staff. It provides a clear guide to understanding the basics of the enforcement process whilst looking at practical steps to make enforcement more efficient and effective. The workshop helps participants to gain greater confidence, by improving their awareness of the context in which they are currently working.

This workshop is available as part of TRA's 2011 inter-authority training programme; and the next event is being held in London on 22nd November. Please note that places are limited, so if you are interested in making a provisional booking, please contact Shelagh Pooley without delay.

If however, you are interested in running this session on an in-house basis, as Falkirk did, then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes for more information, including an outline programme.

Other clients who have also recently commissioned this session include East Staffordshire Borough Council and Wokingham Borough Council.

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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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