ENews Issue - 31 May 2012

ENews - May 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:

  • Post Election Training for Councillors - A Final Reminder
  • Need help with the new classes of Permitted Development in Scotland?
  • Certificated Training on Planning Enforcement: next modules now booking
  • New workshop introducing the Community Infrastructure Levy
  • Still time to book on the Conference for Planning Support Staff
  • Helping you to improve the planning customer's experience
  • TRA travel to Shetland to deliver bespoke in-house training for Support Staff




Post Election Training for Councillors - A Final Reminder

Following the recent local Council elections, your authority may now be considering the options for providing training in the planning system for your re-elected and/or new members. TRA is the UK's leading provider of practitioner-presented training for Councillors involved in planning, having trained Councillors in more than 210 local authorities across England, Wales and Scotland.

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 and 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 these 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 above one-day workshops and are delivered by one presenter. Please note that due to time constraints the case study cannot be used during the shorter sessions.



The Training for Councillors section of our website provides further information (England/Wales and Scotland) and answers the most frequently asked questions. We generally ask for around 4-6 weeks to arrange Councillor training but will aim to accommodate clients wherever possible thanks to our large team of experienced presenters. 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 date. A number of authorities have already booked their training days - so don't leave it until the last minute, contact us today!

To see an outline programme without obligation, or to arrange a booking please contact Angela Holmes.

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Need help with the new classes of Permitted Development in Scotland?

With the new classes of Householder PD being recently introduced in Scotland, TRA's popular workshop on PD coming up in June, will this year focus on providing help to those working in planning, planning support and planning enforcement in interpreting and applying these new classes. From what we understand, the new rules may take some time to settle in. The workshop will take place at the Edinburgh Training and Conference Centre on 14 June 2012, however there are now only 4 places remaining so prompt booking is recommended.

The workshop will ensure that participants 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 where you can also download a booking form. Provisional bookings can be made to reserve places for a limited time by telephone or via the online provisional bookings facility. As usual, bookings of 2 or more places (over any number of events in the 2012 programme) will be entitled to discounts of between 10 and 15%.

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Certificated Training on Planning Enforcement: next modules now booking

The next modules in the sought-after Certificated Training Programme in Planning Enforcement are scheduled to commence in October and bookings are now being taken. One of the forthcoming modules is Planning Enforcement and Operational Development and will take place at Madingley Hall in Cambridge on 3-4 October & 7-8 November 2012.

The module is part of a programme which leads to the award of the Certificate in Planning Enforcement through successful completion of 4 out of the 5 modules available. We are also pleased to have students attend individual modules on a one-off basis on a topic of particular relevance to them.

Operational Development is a significant "grey area" for planning enforcement. Staff involved need to have a thorough grasp of the policy, statutory, legal and practical issues involved and the procedural steps required to ensure that appropriate enforcement action can be taken and substantiated. Specific aspects covered by the module include: definition of operational development; legal aspects and case law; specific exemptions, development orders, permitted development; immunity; enforcement notices and operational development; Listed Building enforcement and prosecutions; Certificates of Lawful Operational Development and special tools e.g. Article 4 directions; revocation/modification; discontinuance; completion notices.

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. 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 been able to take back with them. Some comments from previous participants include:

"Can now give clear reasons why something is operational development. There are often differences of opinion between officers and information learnt on this course helps in making these opinions clear. This course should be a must for all planning officers as well as enforcement officers"

Alison Hesketh, Lancaster City Council

"Every element of this module has been useful. There are now apparent solutions to issues and cases which I had not previously considered. As always, Vivien caters to the needs of the participants and her knowledge on the subject matter is exceptional"

Sarah Iles, East Sussex County Council

"On a day to day basis, the knowledge gained from this course allows me to make more informed decisions and to cope with a large case load, to make me a more effective enforcement officer. Use of case law in examples is excellent and allows better quality decisions"

Kevan Hooper, South Gloucestershire Council

Further details of the Operational Development Module and the certificated programme as a whole can be found on the TRA website. If you would like to reserve a place, a booking form is available to download, or alternatively places can be reserved provisionally for a limited time via the online provisional booking facility, or by telephoning Shelagh Pooley on 01204 385678, who will also be pleased to answer any questions you may have.

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New workshop introducing the Community Infrastructure Levy

The new Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) is set to replace the use of planning obligations under s106 in many instances, and knowledge and use of levies will become an essential aspect of planning for infrastructure and positive development management.

To this end TRA have developed a brand new workshop aimed primarily at local authority planners involved in setting up and using the CIL or wishing to become to become familiar with the use of this aspect of the reforming planning system.

The workshop 'Introducing and Making Best Use of the Community Infrastructure Levy', which will take place in London on 21 June 2012, aims to provide those involved in establishing and using a Levy system with a thorough understanding of the legislation and its requirements. It will look at the evolution of CIL and practice to date in order to provide guidance to those officers tasked with introducing CIL or producing a Charging Schedule and having it approved. It will also offer practical advice on implementation to secure developer contributions and managing levies.

Specific aspects covered include:

  • the background and origins of the CIL
  • the statutory provisions
  • the Government's approach
  • appropriate use of CIL and s106 to secure acceptable development - avoiding overlap
  • what CIL may and may not be used for
  • what needs to be considered to produce a sound charging schedule
  • deciding rates
  • consideration of examples of adopted schemes
  • the practical side of managing Levies and monitoring.

The workshop will provide the opportunity for participants to discuss particular problems or queries and to share any experiences they may have had in this emerging area of practice.

Further details and a booking form can be found on the TRA website. Provisional bookings can be made to reserve places for a limited time by telephone on 01204 385678 or via the online provisional bookings facility.

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Still time to book on the Conference for Planning Support Staff

Places are filling up now on the TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff, however its not too late to send in your booking if you are still considering attending.

As mentioned in previous issues of Enews the conference is to be held at the MIC Hotel & Conference Centre in London on 12 June 2012. Full details, including discounted prices for members of the Planning Admin Network (PAN) can be found on our website

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Helping you to improve the planning customer's experience

In a society that expects high quality service at minimum cost, delivering a quality service that leaves the customer satisfied and reduces the number of unnecessary "interactions" has to be a high priority for any successful manager and their staff.

TRA can offer a workshop that provides an understanding of why customer-care matters more than ever before. Managing the Planning Customer's Experience is available exclusively on an in-house basis (where we come to you) and is equally applicable to both professional and support staff.

A recent session was delivered at Rhondda Cynon Taff County Borough Council by TRA presenter, Chris Weetman, and the training resulted in some excellent feedback from the attendees:

  • Was better than expected, not too long or boring (as training usually can be). A good mix of speech and presentation - not just sat reading slides. Matthew Farley
  • Covered the general points in and around customer service/care. Well presented. The biggest positive for me was having a presenter who has experience in the planning field and was therefore able to present and talk about his own experiences that I could then relate to mine. Lee Evans
  • Interesting. Good to be told about how to communicate clearly as a planner and to think about the consequences of getting it right or wrong. Good to have a planner who understands the issues delivering the training. Helen Winsall
  • Very enjoyable and helped me to understand why customer service is important and how I can contribute to the customer experience. Rob Christ
  • It was engaging, well run and relevant. The course promoted a more considered approach to customer services and dealing with problems, conflict etc. Good exercises, good anecdotes. Nice to be trained by someone who has been part of the process (and still is), and not an academic who has no relevant experience. Barry J. Worthington

TRA's approach is to involve a team of presenters who are experienced people with direct and current involvement in planning practice and, as reflected in the above feedback, this is one particular aspect that our clients seem to like and what sets us aside from the rest.

If you are interested in learning more about the above workshop, or any of our other management related training sessions, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes, who will be happy to provide you with a no-obligation quotation.

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TRA travel to Shetland to deliver bespoke in-house training for Support Staff

TRA has extensive experience of delivering in-house training for staff in over 220 authorities and we know, especially in the current financial climate, how crucial it is that training is focused where it is needed most. This approach ensures that the key resources i.e. your staff, are able to work more effectively and efficiently and, equally as important, that you get value for money out of training.

That is why we would like to remind you that TRA are happy to consider developing bespoke workshops, or tailoring existing sessions, to ensure that the training we provide meets the unique requirements of our individual clients.

On this basis TRA were recently commissioned to deliver a bespoke in-house training session at Shetland Islands Council. The workshop, An Introduction to Development Management and Supporting the Development Management Function, was put together for staff working in a support role, to help them get to grips with the basics and subsequently offer a more efficient and confident service.

The session was developed and delivered by TRA Senior Associate, Vivien Green, covering topics such as the roots of the modern planning system, validation, dealing with applications, best practice and the decision making phase. The session used real life examples to help reinforce key points and course feedback was encouraging:

  • I will now have more confidence in learning how to do the Validation process and then being able to put it into practice. Claire Linton
  • Very clear, informative and practical information delivered well. Thanks! Aaron Kerr
  • It helped to reinforce technical points and options I had been expressing in relation to Validation and planning process matters. A good confidence boost for Administrative Staff. John Holden

If you have any particular in-house training requirements that you would like to discuss, or you would like to look at the possibility of tailoring an existing TRA workshop to meet with your specific needs then please feel free 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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