ENews Issue - 27 June 2012

ENews - June 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:

  • Enforcement Forum 2012: details so far
  • Positive vibes from latest Support Staff Conference
  • Training options for Sustainability and Environmental Management issues
  • Book now for Autumn training workshops in Scotland
  • Welsh Authorities take advantage of TRA in-house Councillor training
  • Rushcliffe BC commissions joint bespoke Enforcement training for officers




Enforcement Forum 2012: details so far

The final details of TRA's next annual Forum on Enforcement, in Manchester on 25 October 2012, are currently being agreed and should be available in the next week or so. As soon as they are ready we'll post them on the website and circulate them to our email contacts as normal (sign up for our publicity circulations if you don't already receive them).

In the meantime, though, here's the line-up so far:

  • an opening plenary session providing a Legal Update (always useful) and a look at the "tactics" of using the new enforcement powers
  • a small-group session looking at the "Local Enforcement Plan: theory and practice", led by Dave Westhead, Senior Enforcement Officer with Stockport MBC and Vivien Green, TRA Senior Associate and Planning Consultant
  • a small-group session focusing on localism and enforcement in practice, led by Andrew Dudley, Lead Enforcement Officer with Melton BC
  • a final plenary session offering a unique perspective on enforcement from David Armstrong, Solicitor and Registered Clinical Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist.

Delegates who have attended previously may remember David's lively and interesting sessions on the Psychology of Enforcement (with some legal advice thrown in) and Intelligent Enforcement and we are looking forward to some more interesting perspectives on enforcement work from him this year.

A third small-group session will be organised if participant numbers make this feasible.

Discounts are available to help as many people as possible to attend. The price for a single booking is £180.00 plus VAT. If you book just 2 places you will be entitled to a 10% discount under our regular block booking scheme. If you want to book 3 or more places then you will be able to claim a 50% discount on the third and any subsequent places booked - this proved a popular scheme last year so is being brought back for this year's Forum. Please note that only 1 discount scheme can be used per booking.

A number of "eager beavers" have already booked their place on the Forum. If you would like to do the same, please follow the link to the appropriate booking form:

  • For 1 place - general booking form
  • For 2 places - discounted block-booking form
  • For 3 or more places - special discounted booking form.

If you are not able to make a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings are recommended to reserve your place and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via the provisional bookings facility on our website.

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Positive vibes from latest Support Staff Conference

TRA has been organising an annual Conference for Planning Support Staff for the last 21 years and the latest conference took place in London earlier this month. We have done our very best to maintain this unique Conference as an annual event despite the impact of budget cuts on attendance levels over the last few years, and so we were delighted to see a larger turnout this year. Let's hope this trend continues.

Unusually, the Conference featured an all-female cast this time round. Alice Lester from the Planning Advisory Service kick-started the event with an overview of landmark changes to the planning system. She also reassured delegates that the PAS "time-sheet exercise" had been put to good use in identifying where costs lie, and will now aid future decision-making. Perhaps not suprisingly, the cost of a Committee decision was found to be almost six times the cost of a delegated decision!

Technical Team Leader, Rebecca Patten, from South Gloucestershire addressed the tricky problem of merging back office functions: highlighting what her authority did; what they learnt; and the benefits to the service, such as improved process and changes in culture. The benefits to staff were greater job satisfaction, better team support and working arrangements, and pride in being seen as a high performing team!

Sadly, our second workshop presenter was unwell and unable to attend so TRA Senior Associate, Sue Glover, stepped into the breach, facilitating lively discussions with her "DIY Guide" to better development management, focusing on front-end processes. Delegates were urged to be "empowered and positive".

Since the Conference is run in association with PAN - the Planning Admin Network, the afternoon included a PAN News Briefing and a reminder about the free resources available through PAN membership (see the website for details - membership is free).

Our final speaker, Frances Wheat, Head of Development Management, Regeneration and Planning at Camden London Borough, gave a fascinating talk about the (many) different management models for planning support that Camden have tried and tested, together with their pros and cons.

Beverley Kuchar, Head of Development Management and Building Control at the London Borough of Harrow, did an excellent job of chairing the event and altogether it was an action-packed and worthwhile day, with positive vibes from everyone involved.

  • Very good to hear real-life case studies from people actually involved in delivering change and with the scars to prove it. Lisa Thomas, Havant BC.
  • Food for thought with regard to streamlining services and procedures to increase efficiency and save time and money. Some useful ideas from the floor. Annie Freestone, East Herts DC.
  • It was interesting to hear other authorities are experiencing the same common issues that we are. Emily Thomas, Exmoor National Park Authority.
  • All speakers and presentations relevant, helpful and will be of use when back at the workplace. Sue Ludwig, Poole BC.

Other events still to come this year for planning support staff include:

  • Supporting the Processing of Planning Applications - Manchester, 13 November (last few places available)
  • Permitted Development - London, 22 November.
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Training options for Sustainability and Environmental Management issues

TRA is particularly well-known for providing training based on our experience and expertise in the nitty-gritty of everday planning, and development control in particular. But there are other aspects of the planning process where TRA can offer its expertise to assist with training needs. One particular aspect where we have developed training sessions on request is the interface between planning and sustainability and other environmental management issues.

We have a number of experienced hands-on practitioners within our presenting team to call upon, including:

  • Jed Griffiths, TRA Senior Associate, a Chartered Town Planner and specialist in environmental planning and related policy issues
  • Tim Crawshaw, a designer, qualified in Architecture and Urban Design, with a particular interest in sustainability
  • Colin Blundel, a qualified planner with a specialism in environmental management
  • Laurie Wills, a sustainability consultant with wide environmental experience.

We can provide training which is suitable for staff in development management, planning policy and related disciplines, covering a variety of topics including:

  • sustainable design
  • renewable energy options
  • Sustainability Assessment
  • the Code for Sustainable Homes, BREEAM and other assessment tools
  • adapting to climate change
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
  • Strategic Environmental Assessment
  • countryside management
  • waterways policy and management
  • ecology

and would be happy to discuss training options on other related topics to fit in with the specific needs of individual clients.

In-house training can be delivered for individual authorities or groups of authorities joining together. If you are looking for training related to sustainability or other environmental management issues please feel free to get in touch to discuss your requirements without obligation. Please contact Angela Holmes.

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Book now for Autumn training workshops in Scotland

The first half of the TRA training workshop programme for 2012 is now complete, ending on a high with our ever popular workshop on Permitted Development running at almost full capacity in Edinburgh last week. Following the Summer break, the programme will re-commence in September with the first batch of workshops taking place at our Edinburgh and Glasgow venues. So, make sure you book your place before going off to enjoy the sunshine (well - we hope it will shine at some point!) The forthcoming workshops are:

  • Development Management: exploring best practice - Edinburgh, 19 September 2012

    This workshop is aimed at both experienced support staff and newly qualified professional staff and will examine the way that development management procedures are operating and evolving in Scotland. The day will explore the process from pre-application discussions through to consultation procedures and on to monitoring requirements. Throughout the day there will be a particular focus on identifying best practice in the light of amendments to the system and on making the best use of limited staff and financial resources.
  • Character and Appearance as a Material Consideration - Glasgow, 20 September 2012

    The most common "main issue" identified by Reporters is the effect of a proposal on the character and appearance of the area. Despite this, many planners only regard the issue as of importance in Conservation Areas and do not properly understand its use in both urban and rural surroundings with no special protection. This workshop looks closely at the use of character and appearance as a material consideration, and provides practical advice on how to successfully consider it as an issue, when and how to use it as a reason for refusal, and how to defend it if necessary.
  • Current Issues in Planning enforcement: essential CPD - Glasgow, 20 September 2012

    This workshop on enforcement is designed for anyone with an interest in planning enforcement; not just Enforcement Officers, but also Development Managers, Planning Officers and Legal Advisers who may get involved with enforcement issues from time to time. Each year, this unique and practical workshop takes a new look at some aspects of the legislative and policy frameworks as well as focusing on day-to-day enforcement practices and issues. As this particular workshop covers a different subject area each time, those who have previously attended would still benefit from attending again.
  • Appearing at Hearings - Glasgow, 20 September 2012

    In the past, Scotland has not fully embraced hearings as a method of deciding appeals. However, it is now clear from the modernising agenda that much more use will be made of them. It will become essential for all development planners (and other practitioners) to become familiar with the style and format of hearings, which require different skills from the more familiar public inquiries. This highly practical workshop, which includes a mock hearing exercise, is designed to explain what hearings are; improve both preparation and presentational skills; and enhance the overall confidence of those involved.

Details of all these workshops can be found on our website via the relevant link above, where you will also find downloadable detailed leaflets and booking forms for each one. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings are recommended to reserve your place and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678, of via our online provisional booking facility.

Don't forget - discounts of between 10 and 15% are available for bookings of just 2 or more places made at the same time (over any number of events in the 2012 programme).

The first batch of workshops following the Summer break in the England & Wales programme, will also be in September (25th) in London, and will be featured in next month's Enews.

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Welsh Authorities take advantage of TRA in-house Councillor training

Following the recent elections throughout England, Wales and Scotland; May was a very busy month for TRA, particularly in Wales.

Various workshops for newly elected Members and those in need of 'refresher' training were held for a number of Welsh authorities including Pembrokeshire County Council, Newport City Council and Powys County Council.

Feedback from the sessions was excellent:

  • Met all requirements and expectations. Certainly one of, if not the best, training seminars I have attended. Intense but enjoyable. Michael Williams, Pembrokeshire CC
  • Excellent training session. Very thought provoking and interesting. Tessa Hodgson, Pembrokeshire CC
  • Training workshop was excellent. Encouraged me to get more involved in planning matters. A really interesting day, so well presented. Pat Davies, Pembrokeshire CC
  • Enthusiastic presenters made the session more interesting. Better than the usual monotone presenter, droning on! Alison Lee, Pembrokeshire CC
  • A very rewarding day! A huge amount of detail but very well presented. Keith Lewis, Pembrokeshire CC
  • The delivery style was very engaging. Jane Mudd, Newport CC
  • Enthusiastic and interesting content and delivery. Mark Hand, Newport CC
  • A very comprehensive day of learning. Very professionally delivered by experienced practitioners. Huw Williams, Powys CC
  • Useful, thorough and well-structured. Myfanwy Alexander, Powys CC
  • Both presenters were very willing to discuss all issues with Councillors. Peter Harris Powys CC.

All of our Councillor presentations have been updated in line with recent changes and we regularly keep an eye on emerging developments, so you can be safe in the knowledge that the information we provide is bang up-to-date. TRA's approach is to involve a team of presenters who are experienced people with direct and current involvement in planning practice (as distinct from staff of academic or educational institutions). Over a dozen presenters are regularly involved in delivering Member training on behalf of TRA; details of which can be found on our website.

If your authority is still considering the options for Councillor training; please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes for more information such as a detailed quotation, including an outline programme.

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 costs and our client is fully aware, from the outset, what they can expect to pay at invoicing stage.

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Rushcliffe BC commissions joint bespoke Enforcement training for officers

TRA was recently commissioned to deliver a two-day, bespoke Enforcement training session on behalf of Rushcliffe Borough Council. The training was made up of various elements from our standard one-day sessions "The Basics of Planning Enforcement" and "Planning Enforcement in Practice: the core elements in detail"; combining them to make a two-day training course on Enforcement and Planning. In order to maximise the cost effectiveness Rushcliffe invited other local authorities to join in with them and staff from Newark and Sherwood, Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, Broxtowe and Mansfield also attended the workshop.

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

  • understanding and identifying what constitutes the breach (planning and listed building control)
  • understanding "immunity"
  • the concepts of "expediency" and "planning harm"
  • consideration of enforcement scenarios
  • making the most of the "toolkit"
  • getting the enforcement notice right
  • enforcement appeals (including considerations of invalidity and nullity)

The enforcement provisions of the Localism Act 2011, the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) and the implications of the loss of PPG 18 were all considered during the training; with ample opportunity to discuss participants' own problems, concerns and experiences.

The training was developed and delivered by TRA Senior Associate, Vivien Green and course feedback was excellent:

  • One of the 'best' i.e. most informative, relevant and helpful events I have attended in 14 years of Development Control work! Jeff Hall
  • Exceeded expectations, excellent course in all ways. Suzanne Dempsey
  • Excellent understanding of the subject, well-presented and good, practical advice. Paul J. Cox
  • The training was very useful and the presenter knowledgeable. Laura Gardner
  • Very good handouts and delivery; will be of invaluable reference for a considerable time to come. Very good delivery also. Julian Hawley
  • Very clear and informative, helped to increase knowledge - good handouts. Chris Johnston

This is just one example of how TRA can organise bespoke sessions for our clients. We are able to deliver training on various topics, details of which can be found on our website.

If your authority has some specific training requirements that you would like to explore then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes for a no-commitment discussion.

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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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