ENews Issue - 26 November 2012

ENews - November 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:

  • Help shape the future of CPD for planning support staff - join our focus group
  • New training programme for 2013 to be launched soon
  • TRA demystifies the Appeals Process for Flintshire Councillors
  • TRA Associates speak at RTPI conference for Councillors
  • TRA awarded place on PAS supplier framework
  • Need to be more effective? TRA can help you to make the best use of your time
  • Latest Enforcement Forum encourages thinking outside the box
  • TRA extends its Development Plan Examinations training to Scotland




Help shape the future of CPD for planning support staff - join our focus group

TRA is looking for people to join our Focus Group on CPD for Planning Support Staff.

Between 2007 and 2010, we successfully ran a certificated course in Town Planning Support - the only one of its kind in the UK. Unfortunately, despite the popularity of the course with students, funding issues in local government meant that we were forced to put the course on hold in 2010 and we don't think it will be feasible to resume it in its previous form. We are therefore looking at alternative options for delivering this kind of high quality, practical, and tailored training for planning support staff. As part of our research we are very keen to seek the opinions of people working in planning support, and their managers, on a number of issues relating to CPD/training to ensure that what we offer meets their needs - hence the Focus Group.

The group will operate online and members will be invited to give their opinions on specific ideas and suggestions, contribute to online discussions with fellow members, and complete short questionnaires. The amount of time and effort involved shouldn't be too off-putting - we will do our very best to keep this to a minimum. So if you would like to be involved please complete this form with your details and return it to promotion@tra-ltd.co.uk by the 31st December 2012. We hope to have the group up and running early in 2013.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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New training programme for 2013 to be launched soon

The TRA 2013 Training Workshop Programmes for Planning and Development Practitioners in both England/Wales and Scotland are currently being finalised, and details will be published on our website as soon as they are available, so be sure to keep an eye on it!

Once again, the programmes will include a mixture of our popular, well-established training workshops and some brand new ones being developed for 2013.

New workshops being introduced for England & Wales will cover:

  • Validation - for all types of application
  • Enforcement of listed building control
  • Costs at appeal and how to avoid them
  • Appearing at DPD Exams.

There will be just one new workshop in the Scotland programme which will be a CPD update on current issues relating to Planning Support.

The discounted Block Booking Scheme which many authorities have taken advantage of in recent years will remain in place, offering between 10 and 15% discount on bookings of 2 or more places made at the same time over any number of events.

If you would like to receive details of the 2013 programme by email and are not already on our mailing list you can sign up to it here.

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TRA demystifies the Appeals Process for Flintshire Councillors

TRA was recently commissioned, on a bespoke basis, to deliver a one-day workshop at Flintshire County Council for its members on the Appeals Process.

Having received earlier training from TRA on their role in the planning process, which included an introduction to what constitutes "material considerations" when deciding whether or not to grant planning permission and a brief explanation on how the appeal system works, this second session went into more detail on both of these aspects, and included the opportunity to discuss some of the potential "grey areas".

In addition, the workshop explained:

  • where the courts get involved in the process
  • what makes "good" and "bad" evidence so far as Inspectors are concerned
  • how elected members might get involved
  • the differences between the various methods of appeal
  • the costs regime.

The session was delivered by TRA Senior Associate, David Kaiserman and course feedback was excellent:

  • I have learned a great deal and been enlightened regarding what material considerations members can take into account in reaching planning decisions. I liked the facilitator's relaxed style. His knowledge and experience enables him to provide relevant examples of decisions made and appeal decisions. He welcomed suggestions and questions which he dealt with admirably
  • Very good delivery. Very informative and interesting, will help a great deal in future planning meetings. Very good and knowledgeable facilitator
  • David is very knowledgeable and has wide experience
  • This training was helpful. The Inspector's knowledge is invaluable, a very interesting training session
  • A must for Planning Committee Members!
  • It will add to the knowledge I have regarding future planning applications and committee meetings and any appeals that may occur. The course seemed to cover many aspects of planning and was very useful. I would be happy to attend more planning training in the future.

We are able to deliver various training sessions, in different formats, for members on specific aspects of planning; you can see a full list on our specifics aspects webpage. If you would like to discuss your particular requirements or if you would like to see an outline programme for any of our existing workshops, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes.

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TRA Associates speak at RTPI conference for Councillors

Two of TRA's Associates - Dan Roberts and Vivien Green - were invited by the RTPI to deliver workshops at the Politicians in Planning (PIPA) Annual Conference earlier this month. This year's Conference was titled Delivering Local Planning: getting the most from the new framework.

Dan, who is Conservation & Urban Design Manager at Lichfield DC and lectures at Birmingham University, together with Steve Hill, Spatial Planning Manager with ATLAS, gave a workshop on Good Design and Sustainable Development. Vivien's workshop was an Overview of some of the key elements of Planning Enforcement. Both workshops received excellent reviews in the event feedback, although it was unfortunate that a busy programme only allowed 40 minutes for such "meaty" topics which are of particular interest to many Councillors. This allowed very little time to deal with some of the issues and concerns that delegates would have liked to explore. If you think your Councillors would benefit from a short training session on these or other planning topics take a look at our list of Councillor briefings.

The keynote speaker was billed as the Coalition Government Planning Minister, so Councillors from all political persuasions were lining up their questions for him, ranging from allocation of housing land to their concerns about the proposed changes to householder permitted development. In fact, it appeared that there was unanimous opposition to the proposal to vastly increase householder PD limits, not least as it would undermine the integrity of the planning process, the decisions made by officers, committees and the Inspectorate on applications as well as overriding policies in many development plans. However, in the event, the new Planning Minister Nick Bowles sent his apologies and Councillors' concerns were dealt with through an open session with the panel of speakers including: Leonora Rozee, former Chief Planning Inspector and President of the RTPI Summer School; Colin Haylock, RTPI President; Cllr Mike Jones, representing the LGA; Malcolm Sharp, President of the PO S; and Keith Holland, Assistant Director with PINS.

The event was held at the Roundhouse at Pride Park in Derby, formerly a railway engine repair shed which included a working turntable. The building has been carefully renovated and given a new life as a meeting/conference facility and also houses the Library and meeting rooms for the adjacent, newly built Derby College. All delegates were impressed by the building itself and the urban regeneration being done by Derby City Council and its partners.

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TRA awarded place on PAS supplier framework

We are pleased to announce that TRA has been successful in gaining a place on the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) Supplier Framework for the next four years, following a detailed and lengthy procurement process.

Depending on PAS' requirements over the period, TRA will be working in a number of "supporting roles", including providing training for Councillors, other specialist training, and research, technical writing and editing services.

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Need to be more effective? TRA can help you to make the best use of your time

The drive to deliver more from less has never been greater for staff in local authorities, highlighting the importance of the concepts of "effectiveness" and "efficiency". In view of this, St Albans City and District Council recently commissioned TRA to deliver a one-day workshop on Personal Effectiveness and Time Management.

The session was delivered by TRA presenter, Chris Weetman, and course feedback was very encouraging:

  • Very interesting and well delivered. Could relate my own work to the course and it certainly made me think about how I do things. Caroline Brown
  • Good examples given that were relevant to the course. Made me and the team aware and to self-challenge how we work and how we can improve time management and being effective in order to get the job done. Laurence Moore
  • It was better than I expected due to the practical information and how it was presented, i.e. it was engaging and not dull. Andy Hunter
  • It was good to have a training session targeted to Development Management. Great delivery and a very valuable course. Worth taking the time to learn about time management! Miranda Burroughes
  • Made me think about the way I work; good suggestions and techniques to apply to my day to day routine. Andy Neidhardt.

A key feature of the workshop is how it relates to the realities of work in local government generally and the planning function in particular. It uniquely focuses on how individuals working in the planning service can improve their personal efficiency and effectiveness, at a very practical level, thereby contributing to an enhanced performance by the planning service.

Specific objectives are:

  • to help participants measure and evaluate the use of their time at work, as the basis for getting control of it
  • to establish key concepts of time management to act as the framework for application in a variety of working situations
  • to extend awareness of practical skills and techniques of time management, in both routine and non-routine situations - covering scheduling (diaries/to do lists etc), organising paperwork, reducing/preventing interruptions and crises
  • to begin the development of individual and joint strategies for improved time management.

If you feel that you and your colleagues would benefit from a workshop on Personal Effectiveness and Time Management then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes for a detailed quotation. Don't forget that the prices we quote are 'all-in' and therefore our clients are aware from the outset what they can expect to pay at the invoicing stage.

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Latest Enforcement Forum encourages thinking outside the box

TRA has always recognised that the integrity of the entire planning system depends on effective enforcement and our annual Forum on Enforcement provides valuable CPD for the wide range of people involved in enforcement work. The underlying theme for this year's forum seemed to be "thinking outside the box" and all the speakers provided examples of how this could be achieved.

We were very pleased that, despite continuing difficult financial times, this year's Forum was very well attended, with some people travelling considerable distances (eg from Jersey) to get there. For those of you who were not able to attend, here's what you missed...

The opening plenary session was delivered by Martin Goodall, consultant solicitor with Keystone Law. Martin, who also provides a regular blog on legal matters, delivered a thorough analysis of "concealed development" in relation to the Welwyn Hatfield and Fidler cases (the Connor principle) and how that should be viewed alongside the new legislation on concealed development. His second topic was the issue of portable buildings and focused on the "Woolley Chickens" case, setting out the tests for determining whether something was portable or temporary or a structure. He outlined the established tests in Cardiff Rating and Skerritts and went on to demonstrate that the judge in the "Woolley Chickens" case had extended the law in two important ways - that permanence has to be construed in terms of significance in the planning context and that merely moving an object around a field does not remove its significance in visual and landscape context. He also considered that the judgement brought into the definition of "other operations" a number of minor operations previously not thought to be development. Martin concluded his talk by looking at the new enforcement provisions that came into force on the 6th April 2012: most notably Sections 123, 125 and 126 of the Localism Act.

Delegates then had the choice of attending two out of three parallel sessions:

  • Andrew Dudley, Enforcement Team Leader with Melton Council, talked about his involvement in developing an enforcement regime that utilises the resources of Parish Councils. Given the lack of resources available and the fact that 75% of complaints are generated by the Parishes themselves, he has devised a four level approach, whereby all complaints are logged with a proper procedure, initial investigations are carried out by trained parish councillors, there is then a thorough consideration of the issues, and finally (although this has yet to be implemented) formal action if necessary. It is fair to say that a lot of delegates raised serious concerns about this "localism in action" and Andrew himself was at pains to acknowledge that not all his Parishes were signed up to the idea. However, as an example of thinking outside the box to achieve solutions it was an invigorating workshop.
  • Dave Westhead, Senior Enforcement Officer at Stockport MBC and Vivien Green, Senior Associate at TRA, gave a combined talk on Local enforcement Plans, and in particular focused on whether the Enforcement Plan, as identified by Paragraph 207 of the NPPF, should be a DPD as part of the LDF or a stand-alone document. Drawing upon Stockport's decision for it to be a DPD (probably the first in the country) Dave and Vivien outlined both the practical considerations of plan making and the consequences of not having a sound plan when it comes to enforcement and prosecution.
  • "Prosecute or Direct Action" this can be a tricky question to answer when it comes to addressing advertisements. Andrew Marx, Deputy Head of Service at Islington Council, provided a stimulating look at how his authority addresses the issue. Advocating direct action through Section 225 and 225A of the Localism Act, Andrew challenged enforcement officers to think differently about how they approach unauthorised adverts, using the Calderdale case as an example of the pitfalls of prosecution.

David Armstrong, Solicitor, Psychotherapist and Hypnotherapist, ended the day with a lively and amusing session looking at trying to simplify solutions to enforcement. His wide-ranging talk covered examples of what works, what does not work, and identified why the outcomes are what they are. From working with other regimes (licencing etc) to concepts of psychology and negotiating skills, David took the audience through the full gambit of tools to achieve positive outcomes. His message was to "try different ways to get a solution" and the audience were treated to a range of case studies and tips for improving their work skills. David's unique delivery style held his audience till the end and provided the perfect ending to a thoroughly informative and thought provoking day.

The date for the 2013 Forum will be confirmed shortly so look out for that in future editions of ENews and reserve your place early.

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TRA extends its Development Plan Examinations training to Scotland

Since 2007, TRA has successfully delivered in-house training on Examinations of Development Plan Documents (DPDs) for a large number of authorities across England. This has since extended to Wales and most recently Scotland, where, following discussions with the Directorate for Planning and Environmental Appeals (DPEA), we delivered a session at Perth and Kinross Council for their officers and officers from neighbouring authorities (Clackmannanshire, Dundee City & Stirling).

Feedback from the workshop on 'Appearing at LDP Examinations' was excellent:

  • I have to say that I gave up my day-off to attend this training day - and I am glad that I did! The workshop was delivered in a highly informative and entertaining way and a lot of very useful information was disseminated in the time we had available. I thought that the mock hearing in the afternoon was really useful and I gained a valuable insight into the Hearing process by participating in this. Tony Maric, Perth and Kinross Council
  • Was very informative and was a good refresher on taking part in hearings. The role play was interesting and felt very realistic in comparison to a hearings session. E. McLaughlin, Perth and Kinross Council
  • Very interesting. The mock hearing session was excellent and very well thought out. Elaine Fotheringham, Stirling Council
  • Clarity provided on the environment and procedures/protocols of Hearings. Well delivered, informative and interesting. Nicola McCowan Hill, Perth and Kinross Council
  • Brought me up to speed on new procedures/format to LDP Hearings in an interesting and interactive way. Grant Baxter, Clackmannanshire Council
  • Good presentation of material and opportunity for discussion. Good knowledge and experience of the topic from the course presenters. Claire Milne, Stirling Council.

The workshop explores the processes involved at Examinations; the tests of 'soundness' that the Inspector/Reporter must consider; and the roles of the different participants. The training includes a detailed look at the role of the planning officer and how to deal with questions and advocacy under the examination system. There is also an opportunity to take part in a mock Examination, which is very popular with participants and helps to demonstrate the points learnt on the day.

The workshop is presented by two members of the TRA training team. Depending on availability and the nature of the examination the session would be delivered by either:

  • Jed Griffiths; a Senior Associate of TRA and member of the RTPI Council and Management Board. Jed has been personally involved in a number of examinations including the examination of the East of England Plan
  • John Mattocks; a semi-retired Planning Inspector who has been at the forefront of developments in the examination of DPDs, issuing one of the very first reports under the 2004 Act; finding the Lichfield Core Strategy unsound
  • Terry Kemman-Lane; a Senior Planning Inspector, his specialisms include retailing, minerals & waste, and development plans. Having advised on the emerging legislation for the LDF regime, he has spent most of the time since 2006 in examining a range of DPDs in major growth areas.

If you are interested in organising in-house training on Development Plan Examinations in England, Scotland or Wales or you would like more information, such as an outline programme, please do not hesitate 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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