ENews Issue - 30 March 2012

ENews - March 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:

  • Certificated course on enforcement: 3 places left on introductory module
  • Your thoughts on the NPPF? Take part in our poll
  • Neighbourhood Plans & Orders: new Examination service
  • Struggling with the new rules on householder PD in Scotland?
  • Conference for Planning Support Staff - details announced!
  • Delivering Affordable Housing - a new interactive workshop for town planners
  • Post-election training for Councillors - Don't forget to book early!
  • Let TRA help you prepare for Appeals/Examinations




Certificated course on enforcement: 3 places left on introductory module

The "introductory" module in TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement will be running in October and November and there are just three places remaining. 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 1-2 October and 5-6 November 2012. 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
  • Knowledgeable tutor, informative content and great location. A fantastic course! Sam Harper, Exmoor National Park
  • 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.

For further information or to reserve your place on the October/November 2012 module please contact Shelagh Pooley as soon as possible.

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Your thoughts on the NPPF? Take part in our poll

Initial reaction in the media to the National Planning Policy Framework which was released earlier this week has been reasonably positive, with different organisations and interest groups claiming the government has listened to what they had to say.

At TRA we are always interested to hear what planners, enforcement and support officers have to say and so in our first web-poll we'd like to know your initial reaction to the NPPF and whether you think it will be good for planning.

To take part in our poll, just click on the appropriate link below.

Which of the following best reflects your feelings about the new NPPF?:

  • Very happy - it's a radical shift for planning and will definitely shape the environment for the better
  • Happy - on the whole it will improve the planning system and help to deliver sustainable development
  • Unhappy - it will make life harder for LPAs and is unlikely to deliver the right development in the right areas
  • Neither happy nor unhappy - it's another government policy document that will have some good and some bad aspects.
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Neighbourhood Plans & Orders: new Examination service

TRA is pleased to announce the introduction of a new service for local planning authorities - Examination of Neighbourhood Plans & Orders.

LPAs will be aware that draft Neighbourhood Development Plans or Neighbourhood Development Orders submitted to them by community groups in their area will need to be examined by an independent person. The LPA will be responsible for appointing the examiner and, as with the new CIL Examinations, the examiner does not need to be an Inspector appointed by PINS. The LPA is free to choose anyone who, in their opinion, is independent of the authority and has appropriate qualifications and experience; although the appointment does need to be agreed with the parish council or neighbourhood forum who submitted the plan or order.

As an organisation that has provided support for the planning service (including Councillors and Parish Councils) 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.

Our team are all Chartered Town Planners but with a wide range of backgrounds and experience which will enable us to use the most appropriate personnel for your particular neighbourhood. We can ensure that your examination, whether carried out through written representations or a hearing, is handled by someone who understands the issues in your area and is well versed in any particular complexities involved. As always, TRA personnel are supported by our dedicated administrative team in Bolton and have access to the combined knowledge and resources of TRA's extensive network.

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

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Struggling with the new rules on householder PD in Scotland?

If you are having difficulty in interpreting the new rules on Householder Permitted Development introduced in Scotland in February, whether you work in planning, planning support or enforcement, TRA's forthcoming workshop on PD could be the answer to your problems.

Our Permitted Development workshop has been running successfully in Scotland since our workshop programme began back in 2000 and a key focus for the 2012 event will be how to interpret and apply the new classes of householder PD. From what we understand, the new rules may take some time to settle in...

The workshop, which is running in Edinburgh on 14 June, will make sure that those attending understand how PD works, looking at the basics of "exclusions from development" and providing a unique opportunity to exchange experiences and interpretations relating to some of the issues arising from the changes to householder PD.

Now would be a sensible time to look at how authorities deal with PD enquiries. So the workshop will also be timely in considering alternative ways of handling PD enquiries in light of the cutbacks and financial constraints currently being experienced.

Further details of the workshop can be found on our website. Bookings can be made using the pdf booking form or reserved provisionally via our online provisionally booking facility or by phoning 01204 385678.

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Conference for Planning Support Staff - details announced!

We are pleased to announce that details for the 2012 Conference for Planning Support Staff have now been finalised. As mentioned in last month's Enews the conference will take place at the MIC Centre in London on 12 June 2012.

The theme for this year's conference will be highlighting how the biggest changes to local government and planning for many years might affect day to day working practices and how to obtain support, as well as providing an opportunity to learn about best practice from others.

Contributors at the event will be:

  • ALICE LESTER, Programme Manager at the Planning Advisory Service, who will set out the PAS agenda, how it works with DCLG, and crucially how it intends to support local authorities
  • PHILIPPA PENFOLD, Planning Administration Manager at the newly formed South Downs National Park Authority, will explain the ongoing work required to establish a new admin system for the unique partnership set up between themselves and 11 existing local authorities
  • REBECCA PATTEN, Technical Team Leader (Operational Support) at South Gloucestershire Council, will share her experiences of merging technical support services, especially DC and BC
  • FRANCES WHEAT, Head of Development Management, Regeneration and Planning at the London Borough of Camden, will offer her insights and lessons learned during the implementation of a significant number of changes at the authority, as well as looking ahead to future challenges.

Further details for the conference can be found on the TRA website. Firm bookings can be made using the booking form available to download from the website, or provisional bookings can be made by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

Don't forget, this year's conference is once again being run in conjunction with the Planning Admin Network (PAN), a FREE online network for anyone with an interest in the administration of the planning service in England, Wales and Scotland. A discounted price for the conference is available to PAN members - visit the PAN website for further details on the network and the quick and easy registration process if you would like to become a member.

Additional discounts of between 10 and 15% are also available when bookings of 2 or more places are made at the same time (over any number of events) using our block booking scheme. See the website for further details.

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Delivering Affordable Housing - a new interactive workshop for town planners

The significant changes to housing and planning policies and their implementation as set out in both the Localism Act and the Welfare Reform Bill, combined with wider public sector spending cuts will have a noticeable impact on affordable housing delivery. These changes will have a particular impact in Scotland where they will interplay with the Scottish Government's policies and initiatives.

TRA have developed a practical, hands-on workshop for town planners involved in the delivery of affordable housing through policy making and development management. The workshop appears in both our England/Wales and Scotland programmes (appropriately tailored to the different areas) and is in two distinct parts:

The first part will provide an overview of the wider changes affecting affordable housing delivery including the implications of changes to housing benefits, changes to funding affordable housing, new opportunities for accessing public and private finance, plus many others. The workshop will also look at opportunities for community-led housing intiatives such as Community Land Trusts and Local Housing Trusts, and what local authorities can do to support such schemes. These changes and their possible implications will be discussed during the workshop giving participants the opportunity to explore the issues through specific question and answer sessions.

The second part of the workshop will consider how planners can rise to these new challenges and will draw on examples of initiatives and good practice from the UK and abroad. Opportunites around shared services and the experiences of the Neighbourhood Planning vanguards will also be considered, as well as what proactive steps local authorities can take to maximise affordable housing delivery, including support for Neighbourhood Plans and the Community Right to Build.

Further details of the workshop can be found on the TRA website via these links:

  • London - 26 April 2012
  • Edinburgh - 14 June 2012

Booking forms are available from the website via the above links or alternatively, provisional bookings can be made to reserve places by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

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Post-election training for Councillors - Don't forget to book early!

Local Council elections are fast approaching for some authorities across England, Scotland and Wales. 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 who are relatively experienced in planning, in England and Wales 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
  • The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice

The Briefing workshop covers the basic policy and procedural aspects of the planning system with a particular focus on Development Management. The Role of Councillors session focuses on the often complex issues surrounding the Councillors role such as conflicts and declarations of interest, material considerations, lobbying, and making the decision.

Both of the above-mentioned sessions are delivered by two members of our presenting team (providing a wide range of experience) and a real life case study is referred to throughout which helps to reinforce key points during the day. This gives the training a much stronger impact and in our experience the case study in particular is an element which Councillors find interesting and useful.

If the time commitment for Councillors is a major consideration we can also offer shorter sessions (usually 3 hours) with flexible timings during a morning, afternoon or evening. These sessions are essentially shortened versions of the one-day workshops and are delivered by one presenter. Please note that due to time restraints the case study cannot be used during the shorter sessions.

A one-day Role of Councillors workshop was recently delivered at Huntingdonshire District Council by TRA presenters Jed Griffiths and Peter Lerner, resulting in some very positive feedback:

  • As a new Councillor I thought this was an excellent introduction to the Role of Councillors in Planning. It addressed not only issues and good practice associated with the Councillors role but by necessity addressing and commenting on key aspects of the planning system. Commentary on changes introduced by the new Localism legislation was particularly welcome. Cllr Gregory Harlock
  • A very well structured course and the case study brought the subject to life. This training would also be good being rolled out to our Parish Councils. Cllr Peter Reeve
  • Very informative and practical. Very well presented and easy to follow. At no time throughout the day was I disinterested. Cllr Ian Curtis
  • One of the best sessions I have had. I liked the method of presentation, very to the point. Cllr Maddie Banerjee
  • Extremely informative and useful. Good interactive approach to delivery of the course. Cllr Graham Bull

The Training for Councillors sections of our website (England/Wales and Scotland) can provide further information and answer the most frequently asked questions. If you are interested in the possibility of arranging a training session and would like any additional information, such as an outline programme, please feel free to contact Angela Holmes for a no obligation quotation.

Many of our clients have already avoided the rush and booked their training day(s), so we would highly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to discuss your preferred date(s) and avoid disappointment.

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Let TRA help you prepare for Appeals/Examinations

TRA has extensive experience in providing training to assist those who are about to be involved in an appeal or examination. From an introduction to appeals through to handling Public Inquiries there are several professional workshops available for delivery on an in-house basis.

  • An Introduction to the Appeals Process: This workshop provides an introduction to the fundamental elements of the planning appeals system: the key differences between the three appeal methods, how you can get the best out of each, what the Inspector is looking for, where the courts come in and when costs get awarded. This session is packed full of practical and essential advice.
  • Preparing Committee Reports and Appeal Statements: how to be both effective and efficient: This workshop takes a very practical look at the preparation of committee reports and simple appeal statements; in most small-scale appeals the Committee Report may be sufficient to defend the Council's decision. It also includes a useful refresher on material considerations, covering the fundamental aspects plus some of the grey areas
  • Appearing at Hearings: Hearings are a vital element of a planning officer's work, often in circumstances when they are on their own. This highly practical workshop is designed to improve both preparation and presentational skills, and enhance the overall confidence of those involved. It includes a thorough briefing on procedures, style and good practice, followed by a "mock" hearing, using a real case study
  • Appearing at Public Inquiries (two days): This workshop is aimed at staff in development management and related fields who need to learn, practice or sharpen the skills involved in appearing at Public Inquiries. The aim is to boost participants' confidence by enhancing their competence. A crucial part of the two-day training session is a "cameo inquiry" which is run on day 2
  • Examinations of Development Plan Documents: This highly practical and extremely popular workshop explores the nature of the examination process, the roles of the different participants, and how the Inspector will run the examination itself. The afternoon session is devoted to a mock examination exercise in which participants play an active role.

Further information on the above sessions can be found on our website, including a link to a downloadable flier which explains the features and benefits of in-house training.

A recent two-day session on Public Inquires was held at Central Bedfordshire, resulting in some very positive feedback:

  • Very good, I learnt a lot! Sue Frost
  • Well presented and fun continuous learning. Lessons learnt and will be remembered. Richard Murdock
  • I am not a planner and therefore had no expectations, that said the session was very helpful and a very good experience. Monika Maresewka
  • It replicated an inquiry situation giving me the opportunity to test and refine my skills at preparing and giving evidence. Useful lessons learnt in terms of clarity and preparation. Michael David

Sessions can be organized for individual authorities or for a group of authorities joining together. Due to the current squeeze on training budgets many of our clients now deliver training on a joint basis; not only does it maximize cost effectiveness but it also provides staff with the opportunity to 'network' and share experiences with their colleagues from neighbouring authorities.

If you would like any further information, such as an outline programme or quotation, then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes. The prices we quote are "all-in" and therefore include all of our fees, presenter expenses and pre-course/course material; this means that there are no 'hidden extras' and our clients know from the outset what they can expect to pay at the invoicing stage.

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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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