ENews Issue - 28 January 2013

ENews - January 2013

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:

  • TRA Training workshop programmes for 2013 now available!
  • CIL Exams - TRA offers alternative to the Planning Inspectorate
  • Certificated Enforcement course: student update
  • TRA comment: latest consultation on Permitted Development
  • Post Election Councillor training: Half day formats now available
  • West Suffolk authorities join together for essential enforcement training

TRA Training workshop programmes for 2013 now available!

The new programmes of training workshops for Planning and Development Staff in both England/Wales and Scotland are now available and can be viewed on the TRA website:

  • 2013 Training Programme for England and Wales
  • 2013 Training Programme for Scotland

The TRA Training Programmes provide a unique and comprehensive package of value for money workshops and update conferences aimed at those working in the planning and development field in both the public and private sectors, including not only planning professionals but also technical and administrative support staff and planning enforcement staff. TRA Professional Workshops incorporate practical exercises and discussion as opposed to a straight forward "lecture" format and are led by expert presenters who are experienced practitioners rather than academics. Feedback from previous participants has been very positive and some of their comments can be viewed here.

As mentioned in previous isues of Enews, both programmes see the introduction of a number of new workshops which will run alongside some of our more established and popular events. Detailed leaflets for each of the workshops in the first half of the programme are available to download from the website (details for the remaining workshops will be added soon), and copies of our brochure giving details of the programme as a whole are now being circulated to our mailing contacts.

Bookings can be made now on any of the events for 2013 using the general booking form; or the discounted block booking form for those wishing to take advantage of this popular scheme and earn up to 15% discount by booking 2 or more places at the same time. Booking forms are available to download from the website.

If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away but don't want to miss out, places can be reserved provisionally by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

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CIL Exams - TRA offers alternative to the Planning Inspectorate

Authorities who wish to introduce the Community Infrastructure Levy are required to produce a draft CIL Charging Schedule and have it independently examined before it can be adopted.

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.

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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Certificated Enforcement course: student update

Congratulations to the most recent students to successfully complete TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement:

  • Andrew George, South Downs NPA
  • Kerry Mee, Stoke-on-Trent City Council
  • Sarah Garbutt, East Lindsey DC

Reflecting on the course, Andrew said: I have found the whole experience very beneficial; not only has it increased my knowledge and understanding of planning enforcement, it has also provided an excellent network of contacts to tap into. Vivien Green is a fantastic tutor and her wealth of knowledge knows no bounds. The lessons are well structured and having the opportunity not only to learn but also talk about issues within your own authority and compare working practices with other enforcement officers is invaluable. It is a shame it is over and I will miss my time at Madingley.

These latest students received the Certificate in Planning Enforcement in November and join the long list of students to have done so since the programme was first set up in 1996 - there are now 137 graduates.

Full details of the 2013 modules in Planning Enforcement can be found on our website. For any questions regarding the programme please contact Shelagh Pooley by email or phone on 01204 385678.

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TRA comment: latest consultation on Permitted Development

Whenever we believe that TRA can make constructive comments in response to government consultations we are keen to do so. Our most recent response has been to the consultation on the latest proposed changes to Permitted Development in England, which concluded just before Christmas.

Our full response can be found on the TRA website, but these are some of our key points:

  1. There has been little rationale or analysis in support of the proposed changes and it is difficult to understand how they will achieve the government's stated desire, particularly in terms of stimulating the construction industry and providing an economic stimulus.
  2. There is no proportionate link between existing properties, particularly for householder PD, and the proposed scale of extension which would be allowed. In some areas such as Green Belts the impact could be particularly significant.
  3. As a result, there appears to be no consideration given to the impact of these changes on any other "interests of acknowledged importance" such as the integrity of the planning system, impact locally on the character of an area or in terms of visual or residential amenity of an area.
  4. The proposal to allow certain commercial development up to the site's boundary does not appear to have considered issues such as: the impact on the amenity of residents in flats above shops; such extensions could be up to 4 metres in height; the whole of a rear yard/servicing/access area could be lost; the impact on the appearance/character of an area if whole terraces of shops extended to the full extent allowed.
  5. Without seeing the wording of any draft Order it is not clear whether the proposals regarding the prior approval requirement for the installation, alteration or replacement of any fixed electronic communications equipment extend to the whole of Part 24. If this is the case, then the impact of some of these developments could have an adverse effect on certain areas whose "special quality and character should be protected" by the planning system. The merit of the prior notification system is that it allows an LPA to identify these circumstances.
  6. To deal with some of the potential implementation and enforcement issues it is probably necessary to introduce some sort of notification procedure but no indication is given by the government as to how this might work and, importantly, there is no mention of what actually constitutes "completion" particularly when the LPA has no plans of what was proposed.
  7. As the end of the proposed three year period approaches, if the Government's estimates of take-up turn out to be realistic, there could be pressure on LPA's resources to deal with these notifications and subsequently with any enforcement complaints. These costs do not appear to have been factored into the equation of costs and savings.

As you can see, we are concerned that there are far too many assertions in the document and not enough analysis and assessment of the full impact of the proposed amendments. The limited work of the accompanying impact assessment only provides "estimates" of the numbers involved and focuses on the economic costs and benefits. It is particularly noticeable that there is a singular lack of analysis of the "impact" on the NPPF and the built environment.

As with any set of proposed changes to the way we work, there are some that seem sensible and obvious and others that seem less helpful and raise concerns for practitioners. With something like PD, there are often detailed technical issues that officers will raise instinctively based on their own detailed knowledge and experience. It is important that responses are not left solely to bodies such as the RTPI or organisations like TRA or, indeed, local planning authorities but that individuals also make comments whenever they can. Consultation responses do not have to be detailed and they can focus on a limited number of the questions posed.

We have raised a number of practical queries but where individuals (and local planning authorities) can really add to the government's understanding of an issue is in providing local examples. It is likely that there have been many planning applications refused by planning authorities for sound reasons (and which may even have been upheld on appeal) that under the current proposals would become permitted development. Being able to offer clear, local examples of situations that exemplify how proposed changes to legislation will have clear (and possibly unintended) consequences is invaluable and adds real value to the consultation process. Although the current consultation on PD has now closed, there will no doubt be further opportunities for you to comment when further changes are proposed! Whether those consultations are then acted upon is another matter but it is important that we all make the effort to respond when we can, so that the government is made aware of th e depth of feeling from right across the profession.

TRA will be running a workshop on Permitted Development in Manchester on 21 November 2013, which will include all relevant updates and their implications. (A workshop on PD in Scotland will also run in Glasgow on 11 June 2013). The workshop is an ideal opportunity to enhance the skills of support staff to deal with PD enquiries (particularly if Householder PD does change) and a good way of keeping internal costs down by allowing Planning Officers to deal with planning applications, which might be especially important if there is a chance your authority could be put into "special measures". It is important to remember that any changes to PD are likely to see a knock-on effect in terms of an increase in complaints so it's vitally important that Enforcement Officers are also well aware of PD and any changes. Like all our workshops, it can be also be run in-house for your authority or for a group of authorities; please contact Angela Holmes for more details.

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Post Election Councillor training: Half day formats now available

For some, local elections are being held in May and those authorities may well be starting to consider the options for providing training for Councillors who are involved in the planning process.

TRA understands that time can be a very important factor when organising training for Councillors, mainly due to the high demands on their time. Therefore, in order assist those authorities that might not be able to deliver a full-day's training we now offer 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, in shorter training formats (usually 3 hours) in either a morning, afternoon or evening.

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.

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 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 versions of the full-day workshops and therefore some elements are necessarily condensed. The workshops are delivered by one member of our experienced presenting team and do not include a case study due to time constraints. The Training for Councillors section of our website provides further information and answers the most frequently asked questions.

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

Since demand is always very high in the period immediately after the elections, we would highly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to discuss your preferred date(s). Some authorities have beaten the rush and have already booked their Councillor training; so don't delay!

For those authority's not having local elections this May, there are still various training options available for your members; see details for England/Wales and Scotland.

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West Suffolk authorities join together for essential enforcement training

TRA was recently commissioned to deliver two Enforcement training workshops on a bespoke basis for officers from Forest Heath District Council and St Edmundsbury Borough Council.

Development Management with the two authorities has recently been amalgamated and the training was for the benefit of planning officers who would be taking on enforcement duties as an integral part of their day-to-day role.

The two workshops focused on the core elements of planning enforcement, including:

  • understanding and identifying what constitutes a breach of planning control (the concept of development and breach of conditions)
  • understanding key concepts including "the planning unit" and "immunity"
  • the importance of investigation and evidence of the alleged breach
  • defining "expediency" and "planning harm"
  • consideration of enforcement scenarios
  • making the most of the enforcement "toolkit"
  • getting the enforcement notice right
  • enforcement appeals (including considerations of invalidity and nullity)
  • the options for dealing with non-compliance.

The training was developed and delivered by Senior TRA Associate and Enforcement specialist Vivien Green, and was rated highly by participants. Follow-up training is expected to take place in the near future.

If your authority has any particular training requirements and you feel that you would benefit from a bespoke workshop, such as the one mentioned above, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with Angela Holmes to discuss your requirements. The prices we quote are 'all-inclusive' and therefore include all of our fees, presenter's expenses and pre-course/course material; so you are aware from the outset what you can expect to pay at 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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