ENews Issue - 30 November 2011

ENews - November 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:

  • Preparing for Localism
  • Inter-authority training programmes for 2012 to be announced soon!
  • New mix and match training options in Scotland
  • TRA's certificated courses: student update
  • Validation made simple
  • Bespoke wind energy and planning workshop for Scottish authority




Preparing for Localism

With the Localism Act being given Royal Assent on 15 November, planning authorities will now need to consider in more detail how its provisions will impact on the way they operate and what changes they may need to make to their processes and systems. TRA can assist with this transition in a number of ways.

At the most basic level, all our existing workshops are being updated to incorporate the principles of localism; for some topics this may be fairly significant and for others it may simply be a case of reflecting the new context. Either way, you can rest assured that our workshop content will be bang up-to-date.

We also have a 1-day workshop, introduced in 2011, offering A Practical Guide to Community Engagement which might also be of benefit. As communities are encouraged to play an increasingly active role in planning, whether through plan-making or development management, planners 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. The workshop covers innovative methods of engaging with the public and appropriate techniques and strategies are explored. A mixture of theoretical and practical work ensures that delegates are more confident and empowered when considering planning matters alongside the communities they work with. The date for the 2012 workshop will be published on the website shortly and this session is also available on an in-house basis for individual authorities or groups of authorities - contact Angela Holmes for details.

Councillors, and particularly those serving on Planning/DM Committees, will need to develop an understanding of how the Localism Act will affect planning and the impact it will have on their own roles and responsibilities. We have therefore added a new half-day Briefing on Localism to our extensive portfolio of in-house Councillor training sessions to help you ensure that Councillors are fully up to speed with the new provisions and requirements. If you would like further details please contact Angela Holmes without obligation.

We are also in the process of developing a new facilitated session/workshop for planning staff to provide an opportunity to explore issues and concerns about the changes brought about by localism and look at possible new ways of working. The session would be offered on an in-house basis for individual authorities and would be facilitated by a member of the highly experienced TRA Associates team. As well as planning staff, staff from other areas of the authority which may become involved in planning through localism could also be involved. At this stage, the intention is to run the session over a half-day and follow it up with a short report outlining the issues covered and any recommendations/suggested action points. Firmer details will be available shortly but if you think this may be of interest in your authority and want to get in early please email Angela who will be able to send you more information as soon as it is available.

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Inter-authority training programmes for 2012 to be announced soon!

We are currently putting the finishing touches to the TRA 2012 Workshop programmes for Planning and Development Practitioners. Once again there will be a programme for England and Wales running at our easily accessible venues in London, Manchester and York; and for Scotland at our Edinburgh and Glasgow venues.

Next year's programmes will see the introduction of a number of brand new workshops which are currently being developed. New topics to look out for include:

  • Managing in Planning Today: achieving more from less (England & Wales and Scotland) - aimed at planning managers and team leaders
  • Advertisement Control (England & Wales) - this workshop is already running successfully in Scotland
  • Introducing and Making Best Use of the Community Infrastructure Levy (England & Wales)
  • Being an Effective Witness at Inquiries (England & Wales and Scotland).

Once the programmes have been finalised the details will be posted on the TRA website, where you will be able to:

  • explore each programme in detail or view all our 2012 events in one place via our Event Calendar
  • download a handy programme summary for circulation to colleagues or to display on your noticeboard
  • download detailed leaflets for each workshop, incorporating booking forms
  • print off our discounted booking form for multiple bookings (up to 15% discount available)
  • make provisional bookings (completely no obligation) using the online provisional booking system.

Details of the new programmes will also be circulated to our usual contacts by post or email. If you currently receive our mailings by post and would like them to be emailed to you in the future, you can request to switch to our emailing list here. Alternatively, if you don't yet receive our advertising but would like to be added to our mailing list (all new additions will be signed up for email circulation), then please go to our mailing list subscription page.

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New mix and match training options in Scotland

TRA has recently put together a series of half-day workshops on planning topics that can be delivered on a "mix and match" basis for authorities in Scotland. The idea is to increase the cost-effectiveness of a day's in-house training by enabling two topics to be covered in the same day. The training could also potentially involve two different groups of staff depending on the topics chosen eg enforcement staff in the morning and DM staff in the afternoon.

There are 10 topics available:

  • advertisements
  • certificates of lawful use
  • the definition of development
  • planning conditions and section 75 agreements
  • material planning considerations
  • caravans and planning
  • prior notification applications
  • demolition
  • drafting and defending enforcement notices
  • development monitoring.

The presenter involved will depend on the topics chosen but most sessions will be delivered by either Michael Hyde or Vivien Green.

Further details of what each session will cover will be on our website shortly but in the meantime if you would like to discuss the options and receive a quotation (without obligation) please get in touch with Angela Holmes.

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TRA's certificated courses: student update

Congratulations to the latest two students to successfully complete TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement: Richard Hazelgrove from Tunbridge Wells BC and Carmel Driscoll from Mid Suffolk DC were awarded the certificate earlier in November. Commenting on her experience of the training Carmel said "The TRA modules provide the best enforcement training there is. I would highly recommend the course to anyone that works in planning enforcement."

Richard and Carmel join the long list of students to be awarded the Certificate in Planning Enforcement since the programme was first set up in 1996. Over the last 15 years, 126 students have done so, including the following who have been awarded the certificate since February this year:

  • Christopher Baybrooke, North Hertfordshire DC
  • Caroline Thomas, Eastleigh BC
  • Liz Donaldson, Northumberland Council
  • Sarah Isles, East Sussex County Council
  • Joanne Parker, East Lindsey DC
  • Mark Balderson, South Lakeland DC
  • Shelly Delderfield, Lincolnshire County Council
  • Andrew Wright, Sunderland City Council.

Also receiving Certificates in Town Planning Support or Management Concepts and Skills in Planning since February are:

  • Carrie Hawes, Christchurch BC (Planning Support)
  • Lorna Raven, North Norfolk DC (Planning Support)
  • Andrew Windscheffel, Welwyn Hatfield Council (Planning Support)
  • Neil Costen, Basildon DC (Management)
  • Barbara Kendall, Essex County Council (Management)
  • Hamish Barrell, Essex County Council (Management).

Full details of the 2012 modules in Planning Enforcement can be found on our website, including the next opportunity to undertake the Key Principles of Planning and Enforcement module (October 2012), which many students choose to begin the programme with. For any questions regarding the programme please contact Shelagh Pooley by email or phone on 01204 385678.

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Validation made simple

TRA has always believed that administrative and technical support is a vital part of the Development Management process. In particular, how the validation process is handled has a critical impact on performance and the cost of service delivery. If, as is expected, LPAs are allowed to set their own application fees in future, the spotlight is sure to fall on validation to demonstrate "value for money" to the customer and to ensure it is "cost effective" for the authority.

TRA currently offers an in-house Workshop on Validation, which helps authorities to simplify the process by:

  • identifying the key elements of the different 'control regimes'
  • demystifying the legal requirements surrounding validation
  • helping participants to understand the often complex issues relating to listed buildings and conservation area consents
  • discussing any proposals the Government may have for change
  • using relevant case studies/group exercises to help reinforce key points.

The session is delivered by Senior Associate, Vivien Green, and participant feedback from a previous session at West Lindsey District Council was extremely positive:

  • Well presented with the opportunity to ask questions and comment. Lyn Mackfall
  • The event raised some very interesting points in relation to the way we work currently and ways we could adapt in the future. It was interesting that even for those officers that regularly work in validation there were lessons to be learnt in how to do things differently but also how to feel more empowered in their work. An enjoyable day and very well presented, there was a good informal atmosphere which made participants relaxed and able to ask questions throughout. Oliver Fytche-Taylor
  • I at least now have some knowledge! Excellent presenter. Thank you. Jodi Wray

TRA appreciates that training budgets are tight and we strongly encourage our clients, who may not be able to fund training by themselves, to consider joint in-house training with neighbouring authorities. Many of our clients now organise training in this way, not only to maximise cost effectiveness but also because they find that their staff benefit immensely from being in an environment where they can share experience and local knowledge with staff from other authorities.

Don't forget that our prices are quoted on an 'all-in' basis and therefore include all of our fees, presenter 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.

If you would like a quotation or any further information on the above workshop, such as an outline programme, please contact Angela Holmes, for a no-commitment discussion.

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Bespoke wind energy and planning workshop for Scottish authority

TRA was recently commissioned to deliver a half day, bespoke training workshop focusing on Wind Energy and Planning on behalf of Falkirk Council, for their Elected Members.

The aim of the session was to give members an insight into the key planning issues behind wind energy development; drawing on experiences from other Local Authorities and using case studies and examples to reinforce key points.

Due to the specialist nature of the topic, TRA enlisted the help of a wind energy expert to work alongside TRA Senior Associate, Jed Griffiths, on developing and delivering the training.

Feedback from the seminar was excellent:

  • Interaction of members was an excellent learning tool. Extremely beneficial in obtaining information on renewables which is very new and complex. Cllr Georgie Thomson
  • Gave us, for the first time, a chance to discuss this issue at a time when a number of applications are in. A list of key issues and information was well received. Cllr John McLuckie
  • The training had enough detail in an easy to understand way. Good workshop, very good presenters. Cllr Craig Martin
  • Very useful for members. Trainers had additional knowledge/expertise on technical and planning issues in other localities. Presentation/context met the terms of the brief and questions from the members were answered very well. Questions outside the scope of the session were also answered. Alexandra Lewis, Planning Officer

A full list of training sessions on Specific Aspects of Planning for Councillors, can be found on our website for authorities in England/Wales and Scotland.

Alternatively, if you have any specific training requirements for your members which you do not see on the website, then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes for a no-commitment discussion. We are always happy to consider developing bespoke sessions, like the one above, or tailoring an existing session, in order to meet an individual client's requirements.

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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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