ENews Issue - 27 January 2012

ENews - January 2012

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:

  • Examinations of CIL Charging Schedules: new service from TRA
  • Achieving more from less: new workshop for planning managers
  • Bespoke training solutions from TRA
  • Certificated Training Module on Material Changes of Use
  • An early reminder for post-election Councillor training
  • Receive TRA info direct to your inbox
  • The Planning Admin Network (PAN) - not just for Admin staff!




Examinations of CIL Charging Schedules: new service from TRA

TRA is pleased to announce the launch of a new service for Local Planning Authorities - Examinations of Community Infrastructure Levy Charging Schedules.

Any LPA that is in the process of producing its CIL Charging Schedule will know that at some point it needs to appoint an "examiner" to carry out an independent examination of the Schedule. What many may not realise is that the examiner does not have to be an Inspector appointed by PINs. An LPA can appoint anyone who, in their opinion, is independent of the authority and has appropriate qualifications and experience. This is because the Examiner's role is to consider not only whether the Schedule is compliant in legal terms but also whether it is economically viable, realistic in terms of the infrastructure being able to be delivered, and consistent with national guidance, and therefore whether it provides an appropriate basis for the collection of the levy.

As an organisation that has provided support for the planning service for many years but which is completely independent of both central and local government, we believe that TRA is perfectly placed to provide this service.

TRA Senior Associates, Lee Prebble and Simon Rowberry, will be leading this new service. Lee Prebble has worked with TRA since 2000 and as one of our specialist presenters/consultants he has delivered numerous training sessions on planning conditions, section 106 agreements and CIL itself. Lee will be delivering our new workshop for 2012 on Introducing and Making Best Use of the Community Infrastructure Levy, and as a former Planning Policy Manager and now an independent planning consultant, he is well placed to conduct an examination of a Charging Schedule. Simon Rowberry is another of TRA's specialist presenters/consultants and in addition to delivering our workshop on Understanding Via bility: key concepts in development economics for planners he has invaluable experience working with local authorities on the provision of infrastructure, and so is well versed in the issues and complexities of both viability and implementation. As always, administrative support will be provided by TRA's office team in Bolton.

Further details will shortly be available on our website. In the meantime, if you would like to discuss how TRA can be of assistance in this area please contact Penny O'Shea for an informal discussion.

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Achieving more from less: new workshop for planning managers

As part of our 2012 workshop programmes in England and Scotland, we have introduced a brand new workshop, Managing in Planning Today: achieving more from less.

Todays' planning managers have to balance incorporating new legislation, prospective new national planning guidance and new thinking associated with localism, with maintaining or improving delivery and performance. At the same time, budgets are under threat, staff are worried about their futures, and in many cases morale is falling. Has it ever been a harder environment to manage in?

Focusing on three key components of successful management: leadership, motivation and overcoming resistance to change, the workshop will help participants better understand how they can proactively influence service delivery in today's particularly challenging circumstances. A mixture of case studies and self-assessment exercises will also help participants to identify their personal strengths and weaknesses and how these impact on their managerial performance.

The workshop will run on 14 June in Edinburgh and 25 September in London. It is presented by TRA Associate, Chris Weetman, who has extensive experience of improving service structure and delivery within local authorities, and is suitable for section managers, team leaders (both planning and support teams), and senior officers looking to take the next step into management.

Firm bookings for Edinburgh or London can be made using the leaflet/booking form on our website (click on the date and venue of your choice above to access). If you would like to reserve a place for a short period please use our online provisional booking facility. The workshop can also be delivered on an in-house basis for an authority or group of authorities jointly - contact Angela Holmes for more information.

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Bespoke training solutions from TRA

TRA has a great deal of experience in preparing bespoke or tailored training sessions for our clients. To give you an idea of how this might be appropriate to you and your colleagues, we regularly feature examples of bespoke sessions in ENews. This month's example is a two-day Enforcement workshop developed at the request of Birmingham City Council. The session was delivered in December 2011 and neighbouring authorities were invited along to share the training to ensure cost effectiveness.

The workshop focused on the core elements of planning and listed building enforcement, including:

  • understanding and identifying what constitutes the breach (planning and listed building control)
  • consideration of enforcement scenarios, expediency and harm
  • making the most of the "toolkit"
  • getting the enforcement notice right
  • enforcement appeals (including considerations of invalidity and nullity)
  • factors to be taken into account in considering a prosecution for non-compliance with notices
  • the decision to prosecute and some advice for appearing in Court.

The two-day course was prepared by TRA Senior Associate, Vivien Green, and participant feedback was excellent:

  • I learnt a lot - very useful handouts to refer to at work. Well presented and explained - I enjoyed the course. Lesley Bennett, Lichfield DC
  • Identified all the points needed for Enforcement. John Tallis, Birmingham CC
  • I feel like I have learnt a lot. I will certainly keep my handouts for future reference. I really liked how we were given handouts discussing some of the case-law we covered, very useful. The presenter was fabulous. She was very knowledgeable and was able to take the legislation and discuss it in real scenarios. A very useful 2 days, thank you! Katie Moriarty, Birmingham CC
  • Above and beyond what was expected. The presenter was knowledgeable, enthusiastic and approachable. Catherine Golightly, Birmingham CC
  • Excellent two days! Iain Mackay, Bromsgrove and Redditch
  • Very informative and covered a lot of issues that I had not been aware of. Paul Perry, Coventry CC
  • The workshop met my expectations, very helpful and informative. Clarified matters in a concise way with adequate time for open discussion and questions. Zoe Langfield, Birmingham CC

Delivering joint training with neighbouring authorities is becoming a popular approach for many of our clients, with positive results. Not only does it maximise the cost effectiveness of training but many find that it creates an ideal opportunity for participants to share local knowledge and experience. For joint training we need to deal with one 'lead' authority as our client for liaison, administrative and invoicing purposes; the lead authority is then free to "sell-on" places to their neighbouring LPAs.



If you feel that your authority has some specific training requirements and you would like to discuss them further, please feel free to contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

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Certificated Training Module on Material Changes of Use

The next module due to run as part of TRA's Certificated Programme in Planning Enforcement will commence in May. The module is part of a unique training programme which leads to the award of the 'Certificate in Planning Enforcement' through the successful completion of four out of the five modules available. However we are also pleased to have people attend modules on a "one-off" basis on topics of particular interest to them.

For each module, students are required to attend two two-day Tutorial Sessions 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 and also their own professional development.

The forthcoming module entitled 'Planning Enforcement and Material Changes of Use' will take place at Madingley Hall in Cambridge on 10-11 May and 21-22 June 2012. The module considers the significant "grey area" of material change of use, covering issues including key tests to determine materiality; concepts of the planning unit and "curtilage"; the legal status of existing use/loss of use rights; key cases for material change of use and recent case law plus many others. Further details of the module can be found on our website.

Feedback from previous students has been extremely positive in terms of the benefits both to themselves as individuals, and also the improvements to their authority's enforcement function as a result of information they have acquired whilst taking part in this training programme. Comments of those who have attended this particular module include:

"Invaluable module to attend at the beginning of your role as a Planning Enforcement officer, so you know what to look for in assessing whether a material change of use has taken place" Susan Francis, St Edmundsbury Borough Council

"As a planning enforcement officer, what I learned on the course will assist me greatly in my work on a daily basis. It has given me more confidence in determining the course of action I would undertake in most cases involving a material change of use" David Moralee, Durham County Council

"Extremely useful way of learning the real issues of enforcement!" Julian Beeston, Shropshire Council

Bookings on this module can be made using the Booking Form available to download from the website. Alternatively provisional bookings can be made via our online provisional bookings facility or by telephoning Shelagh Pooley on 01204 385678, who will also be happy to answer any questions you may have about this particular module or the programme in general.

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An early reminder for post-election Councillor training

For some authorities across England, Wales and Scotland, local Council elections are taking place in May. We would like to remind those of you who are considering providing planning training in the coming months about the importance of booking early to ensure that your Councillors don't miss out on one of our extremely popular in-house training sessions.

Even for those Councillors who are relatively experienced in planning, training will be especially important in light of the recent Localism Act 2011, as localism will require new skills and understanding. We have now updated all of our Councillor workshops to reflect the changes that localism will bring to a member's role and responsibilities; so you can be assured that our workshop content is bang up to date.



We can respond to various training requirements, providing individual bespoke sessions as appropriate, but particularly popular in the post-election period are our one-day sessions:

  • A Briefing on Planning for Councillors - covering planning procedures and policies, and focusing especially on Development Management, and
  • The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice - covering issues such as conflicts and declarations of interest, material considerations, lobbying, and making the decision.

The Training for Councillors section of our website provides further information and answers the most frequently asked questions.

Please note that demand is very high in the period immediately after the elections and therefore we would highly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to fix your preferred date and avoid any disappointment. A number of authorities have already avoided the rush and booked their training days - so don't leave it until the last minute, contact us today!

To receive a detailed quotation, including an outline programme, please contact Angela Holmes, without obligation. The prices that we quote are 'all-in' and therefore include all of our fees, presenter's expenses and pre-course/course material. 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.

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Receive TRA info direct to your inbox

Don't forget that as well as the information contained in ENews each month you can also access regular information on our forthcoming events by signing-up to our e-mailing database.

You can sign-up via our website and the subscription form allows you to choose from a number of topics areas to suit your interests. So why not sign up now and make sure you don't miss out on anything.

Please note that we will not pass on your information to anyone else. Details of our privacy policy are on the form.

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The Planning Admin Network (PAN) - not just for Admin staff!

The Planning Admin Network (PAN) is an invaluable resource for ANYONE who is interested in how the Planning Systems in England, Wales and Scotland function; despite its name, it is not just for admin/support staff.

Initially established in November 2006 to provide a way for people working in planning administration and support to gain open access to current information and new developments in the world of planning admin, PAN has evolved over time and its membership now includes staff in other planning roles, in both the public and private sector, who are keen to keep up to date with developments. PAN is coordinated by TRA's Angela Holmes and Senior Associate, Vivien Green, and membership is absolutely FREE.

The network functions via a dedicated website and because the network operates online, it's easy to contact people working in similar jobs regardless of whether they are in the next town or at the other end of the country - an opportunity you don't often get! The key features are:

  • an interactive discussion forum - which offers members an opportunity to ask questions/get advice from other members
  • a monthly news section - enabling you to keep up to date with various developments/legislation changes in planning
  • a useful links page - signposting other websites which may be helpful
  • a calendar - (in the Training section) which allows you to see, and set yourself reminders for, upcoming TRA inter-authority workshops which might be of interest.

The registration process is quick and easy and you only need to provide your preferred username, email and password. If you would like to join the network, you can sign up via the PAN website - just click on "register" on the homepage at www.planningadminnetwork.co.uk. Alternatively, to see more details, visit the PAN page on the TRA website.

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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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