ENews Issue - 28 September 2012

ENews - September 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:

  • How will you be demonstrating that you "sought solutions" when determining applications?
  • CIL Exams - you don't need to go to PINS
  • Enforcement Forum - last chance to book
  • Certificated enforcement training - next chance to attend
  • TRA carries out procedure review for Guildford BC
  • Forthcoming workshops for Planning staff in Scotland
  • TRA's popular one-day Councillor workshops now available in half-day formats




How will you be demonstrating that you "sought solutions" when determining applications?

From 1 December 2012 an amendment to the Development Management Order will require planning authorities to add to their decision notices a statement explaining how, in determining the application, "they have worked proactively and positively in seeking solutions to problems".

CLG's recent and rather brief letter to Chief Planning Officers advises that in the majority of cases it will be sufficient for the authority to "include a simple statement confirming that they have implemented the requirement in the NPPF".

However, from discussions in the planning and legal press it appears that TRA is not alone in thinking that this assertion will not be enough to withstand a challenge. What will probably be need is explanation, and it seems likely that one of the key areas for discussion in many applications will be viability.

TRA offers a number of training courses that could help staff improve their performance and effectiveness in these kinds of discussions:

  • Understanding Viability: key concepts in development economics for planners (available in-house and on 16 October in York)
  • Negotiation Skills (available in-house and on 16 October in York)
  • Negotiating Financial Agreements (available exclusively in-house).

In-house workshops can be organised for a single authority or for a group of neighbouring authorities joining together; joint sessions have proved particularly useful for smaller authorities who may not have enough staff to make a session viable or in areas where there is an established local network between authorities.

To receive more information about the possibility of running any of these workshops in-house including outline programme and prices, please contact Angela Holmes without obligation.

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CIL Exams - you don't need to go to PINS

Authorities who wish to introduce the Community Infrastructure Levy are required to produce a CIL Charging Schedule and have it independently examined. While authorities will be used to submitting Development Plan Documents to the Planning Inspectorate for examination, CIL Charging Schedules do not need to be handled by PINS. The legislation (s212 of the Planning Act 2008) and subsequent CLG guidance make it clear that the authority can appoint anyone who, in their opinion, is independent of the authority and has appropriate qualifications and experience.

As an organisation that has provided support for the planning service for many years but which is independent of both local and central government, we believe that TRA is ideally placed to provide this service. An outline of the service we can provide can be found on our website. We have a small team of Expert Examiners and will be expanding the team as demand for examinations increases.

If you are working towards the introduction of CIL in your authority, why not let TRA provide you with a quotation for the examination? We can offer a prompt, professional and competitively-priced service. To find out more, including likely costs, please contact Penny O'Shea for an informal discussion.

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Enforcement Forum - last chance to book

Just a quick reminder that there is still time to reserve places on our next Forum on Enforcement, taking place in Manchester on 25 October. With just under a month to go booking is going very well and we are expecting a lively event as usual. Don't leave it too late if you would like to attend.

Full details of the Forum and a booking form can be found on our website. If you would like to reserve a place provisionally please contact Shelagh Pooley on 01204 385678 or use the provisional bookings facility on our website. Don't forget that discounts are available to those booking 2 or more places.

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Certificated enforcement training - next chance to attend

The next modules in the sought-after Certificated Training Programme in Planning Enforcement are scheduled to commence in January and bookings are now being taken. The two modules are:

  • Planning enforcement procedures and practical use of the toolkit
  • Planning enforcement and advertisement control.

Both modules will take place at Madingley Hall in Cambridge in January and March 2013 - see the above links for exact dates and more information on the scope/coverage of each module.

The modules are part of a programme which leads to the award of the Certificate in Planning Enforcement for those who successfully complete 4 out of the 5 modules available; more than 130 students have been awarded the certificate so far. We are also pleased to have students attend individual modules on a one-off basis on a topic of particular relevance 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. 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 students.....

Planning enforcement procedures and practical use of the toolkit

  • I feel that the module has given me a much broader understanding of the enforcement options which I can build on in the future. Mark Balderson, South Lakeland DC.
  • I have more confidence dealing with people and drafting enforcement notices. Matthew Chaplin, North East Lincolnshire Council.
  • I now look at notices in a completely different way. My way of thinking has totally changed because of this module. Sean Baldock, previously with Guildford BC.
  • An extremely useful module that I feel is essential to the job. Ryan Dodd, East Lindsey DC.

Planning enforcement and advertisement control

  • This course will have a lasting impact. Not only have I gained considerably from the experience but the notes and assignments will provide a lasting reference for the entire enforcement team enabling us all to perform better. Rosemarie Dannatt, Arun DC.
  • The advert regulations are very complex. The module has shown me how to work through the regs and apply the correct classes. Rajinder Lalli, Warwick DC.
  • I will be able to confidently explain the advert regs to the public as well as having a better and fuller understanding of them myself. Samantha McDowell, Broadland DC.
  • I will have the confidence to prepare a case for prosecution and hope it would be successful. Kerry McCartney, Allerdale DC.

If you would like to reserve a place on either module, a booking form is available to download from our website. 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 about the certificated programme.

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TRA carries out procedure review for Guildford BC

Guildford Borough Council is the latest authority to commission TRA to review its procedures. This particular assignment focused on the procedures involving the Planning Committee and Development Control and was carried out between April and August 2012 by a TRA team consisting of Planning Manager, Stewart Glassar and Senior Associates, Lee Prebble and Vivien Green.

This kind of Review has been undertaken by TRA for more than 30 local authorities, in many cases followed by the development of an Online Procedure Guide. Details of our Procedure Review service and a list of clients can be found on our website.

A TRA Review will normally look in detail at:

  • the authority's performance
  • its DC/DM procedures, with a view to improving both efficiency and effectiveness
  • the management, staff structures and resources/capacity of the DC/DM function.

This kind of comprehensive review considers all aspects of the DC/DM process, from pre-application discussions, through the decision-making process, and as far as appeals and enforcement/monitoring. The output of the review is a detailed written report with justified conclusions and key recommendations for change. These recommendations are extremely important and their implementation can have a significant impact on the quality, consistency and speed of development control performance.

As well as full-scale reviews of this nature, we can also carry out smaller reviews, focusing on particular elements of the planning process, such as planning support/front-end processing, planning enforcement, committee procedures.

If you would like to know more about any of our procedural review services please contact Penny O'Shea for further information and a no-obligation discussion.

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Forthcoming workshops for Planning staff in Scotland

The first batch of workshops in the Autumn section of our Scotland programme have recently taken place and were very well received, with some positive feedback from participants.

The next set of workshops in this programme will take place on 6 November 2012 at our Edinburgh venue. Bookings are going well on these workshops, however there is still time to reserve a place should you, a staff member or colleague wish to attend.

Conditions, Planning Agreements and Planning Gain

Conditions and Section 75 Agreements are on the one hand essential areas to get right for any application, and on the other a major source of controversy and debate. This popular workshop concentrates on the basic legal and policy principles and explores some of the up to date front-line issues. Participants will have the opportunity to thrash out some of the theoretical and real-life difficulties of day to day practice in this area with presenter Frances McChlery, a highly experienced legal adviser, and with fellow participants.

Sustainable Development by Design

This workshop is a brand new addition to both our Scotland and England/Wales programmes for 2012. It is presented by Tim Crawshaw, an innovative designer with over 15 years experience, and looks at how local authorities, local communities and developers can best introduce new technologies and approaches to aid sustainable development, whilst at the same time maintaining the design integrity and viability of the development in question. The workshop will explore different technologies and design approaches to sustainability in the context of their environmental benefit and impact. It will help to answer the conundrum of integrating good design with environmental principles having regard to the current market and all the various pressures upon viability. The workshop will conclude with a look at the way in which careful design can help future proof developments so that as new sustainable technologies come along or become more affordable they can be fully utilised without compromising the overall design.

Understanding Viability: key concepts in development economics for planners

This workshop also appears in both our Scotland and England/Wales programmes. Ideal for Local Authority planning and development staff who are engaged in policy implementation and development management where the need to judge the viability of plans and projects is now vital, the workshop would also be of benefit to those working in the private sector. In the current economic situation the need to be able to understand a development's viability has become an important issue for planners. An understanding of viability can have a significant bearing on whether a development goes ahead and, if so, what benefits might accrue to the local community. The workshop will be particularly relevant to staff who work with and negotiate with commercial developers to assess contributions under a planning ag reement. The workshop is presented by Simon Rowberry, who has extensive experience in negotiating developer contributions on major housing, employment and retail sites, in both the private and public sectors.

Further details for each workshop and booking forms are available from the TRA website via the above links. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, places can be reserved provisionally by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

Don't forget - discounts of up to 15% are available via our Block Booking system for 2 or more bookings made at the same time over any number of events in the programme. Details are on the TRA website.

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TRA's popular one-day Councillor workshops now available in half-day formats

TRA understands that time can be a very important factor when organising training for Councillors due to the very high demands on their time. In view of this, we are sometimes commissioned to deliver shorter training sessions (usually 3 hours) in either a morning, afternoon or evening to suit an authority's requirements.

This approach now extends to our two most popular one-day Councillor workshops, A Briefing on Planning for Councillors and The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice.

We would still recommend a one-day session as the most effective way of delivering these two topics, mainly due to the use of a real-life case study (helping to reinforce key points and is an element that Councillors find useful and interesting) and the added bonus of having two presenters delivering the workshop (so a wealth of current and relevant experience).

However, a shorter session could be the perfect solution if a one-day workshop is not a viable option. The half-day sessions are essentially shortened down versions of the above one-day workshops and therefore some elements are necessarily condensed to accommodate the time available. The workshops are delivered by one member of our experienced presenting team and do not include a case study due to time constraints.

Feedback from past participants of shortened sessions has been very encouraging:

Short Briefing on Planning

  • Kept it simple, so as not to confuse. There were clear explanations of the whole process. Alan Mason, Redditch Borough Council
  • Met my expectations and more so. The course was informative, and for a new member of the Planning Committee was very good. Marie Derbyshire, Barrow Borough Council
  • The trainer was above average and kept us all awake! John Ruck, Bromsgrove Borough Council
  • Engaging style; willing and able to interact fully with the audience. Knowledgeable and authoritative; fair, clear and firm. Very well done. Ailith Rutt, Redditch Borough Council.

Short Role of Councillors in Planning

  • It covered a great deal of ground in a short time but highlighted areas where we need further work. Cllr P Roberts, Runnymede Borough Council
  • Showed immense knowledge and passion, which made it very enjoyable. I was dreading the course, thinking it would be dull - it wasn't! Helen McStravick, Newcastle City Council
  • More than met my expectations; especially in such a short space of time. Frances Barden, Runnymede Borough Council
  • Very comprehensive, presenter responded extremely well to questions and issues raised by members. Bryn Morgan, Waverley Borough Council.

So, if your members have any particular training requirements, but time is of the essence, there is always the option of delivering a shorter, more focused training session. To receive a quotation, including an outline programme, or to discuss your requirements in more detail, please contact Angela Holmes directly.

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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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