ENews Issue - 26 April 2013

ENews - April 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:

  • How to prepare Neighbourhood Plans: brand new workshops for community groups
  • Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement remains as popular as ever!
  • Management and personal development skills for planners: workshops to think about
  • Conference for Planning Support Staff - book your place now!
  • Member training on planning enforcement: would your Councillors benefit?
  • TRA Training Programme for Scotland - workshops coming up in June
  • East Herts commissions bespoke training sessions on management skills and changes to DM

How to prepare Neighbourhood Plans: brand new workshops for community groups

Localism - and particularly neighbourhood planning - is giving Parish Councils, community groups and community forums a greater say in how their areas are planned and developed. Nowhere is this more evident than in the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan.

Whilst support is available through a variety of sources when it comes to actually preparing a Neighbourhood Plan, it is vital that the people at the heart of the process understand from the very start how it all works so that they can get the most out of the process (and from those who are assisting them along the way). That way, they will be able to obtain the best results for their local community.

TRA has therefore developed two brand new half-day training workshops that are specifically designed for community groups and Parish Councils who are keen to embark on the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan but may be unsure of what is involved and how the process works:

  • An Introduction to Neighbourhood Planning has been designed for those who would like to know more about the processes involved in preparing a Plan and what the system can and cannot deliver as a whole. The workshop provides an introduction to neighbourhood planning, the legislation and the key stages that need to be addressed during the preparation of a Neighbourhood Plan. It will give those who attend a much more rounded understanding and appreciation of what neighbourhood planning involves.
  • Neighbourhood Plans: preparation and examination focuses on the detailed aspects of preparing a Neighbourhood Plan and specifically what is required in taking a Plan through the Examination process and on to a Referendum. The workshop explores how best to project manage the process and how to make the most of the available sources of help, including using consultants. It also looks to demystify some of the more complex aspects around testing the plan and offers a straightforward step-by-step exploration of what will happen, when it will happen and who will do it. It will help delegates to focus on what they will need to do in their own areas and the tasks and issues they will need to tackle in order to produce a successful Neighbourhood Plan.

The workshops can be delivered for individual community groups, forums or Parish Councils but they could also be commissioned by local planning authorities for the benefit of a group (or groups) within their area to help bring forward Neighbourhood Plans. Further information on the two workshops and how to arrange in-house training can be found on our website.

If you would like to discuss the possibility of organising one of these workshops please contact Angela Holmes for a no-obligation discussion.

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Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement remains as popular as ever!

Bookings are currently being taken for the next two modules in TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement in October and November and we're delighted to say that they are both already provisionally fully-booked. Although there are no places available at the moment, we do keep a waiting list in case people are not able to confirm their place. So, if you would be interested in a place on either Key Principles of Planning and Enforcement or Planning Enforcement and Operational Development if one becomes available please contact Shelagh Pooley.

Looking ahead - the next available modules begin in January 2014 and may be of interest:

  • Planning Enforcement Procedures and practical use of the Toolkit (20-21 January & 3-4 March 2014)
  • Planning Enforcement and Advertisement Control (22-23 January & 5-6 March 2014).

Further details are available via the above links or by contacting Shelagh Pooley.

The Enforcement programme has been running since 1996 and so far more than 140 students have successfully completed the course and been awarded the Certificate.

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Management and personal development skills for planners: workshops to think about

Getting the most out of local authority staff and resources, through enhanced skills and practice, is the key to achieving quality outcomes at a time when financial constraints mean an increasing need to "get more from less". Despite planning budgets continuing to be under severe pressure, spending a relatively small amount of time and money now on developing and/or updating management and/or personal development skills could well be one of the best investments to make for both the short and long term.

TRA's 2013 Training Programme includes a couple of workshops focusing on relevant topics, tailored specifically for those working in the planning and development field:

  • Managing in Planning Today: achieving more from less - Manchester, 27 June 2013

    Today, managing a planning service successfully is about achieving greater efficiencies, whilst still being effective, all with less resources. At the same time, budgets are under threat, staff are worried about their futures, and in many cases morale is falling. Has it ever been a harder environment to manage in? Using a mixture of case studies and motivational/leadership self-assessments, this recently developed workshop looks at how changing processes and practices have to be complemented by changing human and cultural behaviours in order to overcome resistance to change and meet the above demands. Focusing on three key skills of leadership, motivation, and handling resistance to change, participants will come away with a better understanding of how they can proactively influence service de livery in these challenging times.

  • Negotiation Skills: the key to achieving planning goals and objectives - London, 19 September 2013

    Almost every day, planning, enforcement and other 'environmental' staff within local planning authorities engage in some form of negotiation. Often these negotiations, whether they are with developers, agents, the public or even their colleagues, are carried out without any clear understanding of the principles and techniques involved. Yet having an awareness of both principles and techniques, coupled with experience, can make a formidable difference to an officer's effectiveness. This workshop focuses on persuasion and influencing skills; when to negotiate and when not to; approaches to negotiation; "tricks" and techniques; and the power and personality dimensions. The workshop combines theories with working references from the experience of participants.

Both workshops are presented by Chris Weetman, a planning consultant with over 20 years' experience of working in local government, primarily in development control. Chris has a post-graduate management diploma and considerable experience of improving service structure and delivery within local authorities. He has presented these and similar workshops numerous times for local authority and private sector staff and was formerly course tutor on TRA's Certificated Course in Management Concepts and Skills in Planning. Comments of previous participants on these workshops include:

  • "Very helpful to get a better understanding of techniques and issues - particularly dealing with difficult people. I liked the emphasis on 'leadership' rather than 'management'. Useful in the current climate of change and budget pressures." Sarah Iles, East Sussex County Council (Managing in Planning Today)
  • "Discussion was where the real benefits of the workshop took place. The content split into leadership, making changes happen, handling difficult people and key to your success hit the right issues for me in how to operate and lead my service area." Nigel Richardson, Epping Forest District Council (Managing in Planning Today)
  • "A very useful overview of negotiation techniques etc. with good advice on a range of matters. It was also well tailored to our roles. Good handouts and the presenter engaged very well with the group." Michael Garrity, Dorset County Council (Negotiation Skills)
  • "The course was really good in enabling me to contextualise how to introduce good negotiating into my working practices. I will definitely prepare better for my future negotiations, and aim to be more assertive about elements that are non-negotiable." Edmund Fox, Northampton Borough Council (Negotiation Skills)

Booking forms for the workshops can be found on the TRA website by following the links above. If you are interested in attending, but unable to make a firm booking right away, places can be reserved provisonally by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

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Conference for Planning Support Staff - book your place now!

As mentioned in last month's ENews, details for the next in our long-running series of Conferences for Planning Support Staff have been finalised and are available to view on the TRA website. If you are interested in attending this event, there are places still available but prompt booking is recommended.

The conference will take place on 6 June in London. In this period of continuing uncertainty and challenges in the planning service, it aims to reflect these challenges and the changing nature of the work of support staff, looking not only at technical issues such as validation, but also some new topic areas and skills that support staff increasingly need to use in their day-to-day work.

Once again, the conference is being run in conjunction with the Planning Admin Network (PAN), a FREE online network for anybody with an interest in the administration of the planning service, working in either the public or private sectors in England, Wales and Scotland. A discounted price is available to PAN members and further discounts are available to all via our discounted block booking scheme. Why not visit the PAN website to find out more about the network and the quick and easy registration process to become a member.

A booking form for the conference can be downloaded here, or use the block booking form for 2 or more places to obtain your discount.

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Member training on planning enforcement: would your Councillors benefit?

Effective enforcement is essential in order to maintain the integrity of an authority's plan-making and decision taking processes. In fact, enforcement is probably the most complex and litigious part of the planning process; the decision to enforce is not taken lightly and has to be soundly based on evidence of 'planning harm' and be legally well-founded in all respects.

TRA is able to provide focused, in-house training sessions for Councillors on Enforcement issues, helping them to understand how to deal with breaches of planning control, development without planning permission or not in accordance with permission, and looking at how the enforcement 'toolkit' can be used to resolve problems in the most appropriate way.

Training is presented by knowledgeable Associates who have considerable experience in the field of enforcement and are therefore ideally qualified to deal with the questions that Councillors want answered, for example:

  • why does enforcement take so long?
  • why do we have to deal with applications for retrospective permission?
  • why isn't there more monitoring of the conditions put on planning permissions?

Our sessions look at the resources devoted to the work of Enforcement, Monitoring and Planning Officers - dealing with complaints, identifying breaches and making sure of their evidence. We focus on what can and cannot be taken into account in assessing whether or not it is "expedient" to take enforcement action.

Various workshop formats are available: a full-day session can look at Councillors' concerns in some depth by making use of a case study and/or cameo cases to highlight key points. If timing is a major consideration we are also able to offer shorter sessions (usually 3 hours) in a morning, afternoon or evening, to provide an 'overview'.

Enforcement is just one of the areas in which TRA can provide training on for Councillors: a full list of our workshops on Specific Aspects of Planning can be found on our website. If required, we are also happy to consider designing bespoke sessions or tailoring an existing programme to suit an individual client's needs - please do not hesitate to ask if you have any specific requirements.

If you would like to receive more information on in-house Enforcement training for Councillors (or any of the other topics mentioned on our website), including an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes for a no-obligation discussion.

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TRA Training Programme for Scotland - workshops coming up in June

The next batch of workshops in the 2013 Training Programme for Scotland are due to take place on 11 June in Glasgow. Several authorities have already secured places for their staff using our popular block booking scheme, but a number of places are still available should you or your colleagues be interested in attending. The workshops are:

  • Permitted Development

    This very popular workshop is suitable for planning officers, enforcement officers, planning technicians and other support staff as it explains how Permitted Development works and provides help in interpreting and applying the most frequently used classes. It looks in some detail at the classes of Householder and Minor Permitted Development and explores issues through case studies and consideration of participants own day-to-day concerns. The workshop helps participants develop the knowledge and confidence essential in dealing with this complex aspect of development management.

  • Trees, Landscape & Ecology for Planners

    The aim of this workshop is to provide planning staff with the knowledge and understanding needed to make informed decisions regarding tree retention, protection, removal and replacement within the context of BS5837:2012 'Trees in relation to design, demolition and construction - recommendations'. Participants will also learn about ecology and landscape within the planning framework, enabling planning officers to seek the right information and know what to expect. The workshop is participatory in format, including a mixture of technical inputs from the presenter and practical exercises to demonstrate the difficulties faced by both the planner and the developer/applicant in relation to tree landscape assessment.

  • Personal Effectiveness and Time Management

    TRA's workshop on this topic is unique in that it is aimed at planning practitioners in local government, where there is a constant requirement to meet challenging Government and local efficiency targets. With a focus on how to improve personal efficiency and effectiveness at a practical level, the workshop also aims to contribute to organisational improvement of the overall planning service. It is a "must" for planning staff wanting to feel on top of their job and for organisations wanting to maximise their use of staff resources.

Further details and booking forms for all of these events are available on the TRA website by following the above links to the workshops(s) you are interested in. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, places can be reserved provisionally by telephoning us on 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

Remember - bookings of 2 or more places will attract a discount of up to 15% off the normal event price (depending on the total number of places booked) under our block booking scheme. Further details of the scheme are on the website.

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East Herts commissions bespoke training sessions on management skills and changes to DM

TRA was recently commissioned by East Hertfordshire District Council to develop and deliver two in-house workshops for Officers. The sessions were entitled "An update on recent changes to Development Management" and "Managing in planning today: leadership, coaching, mentoring and counselling".

The Changes to DM workshop was the first session to be delivered and was developed and presented by TRA Senior Associate, Vivien Green. Key elements of the workshop included:

  • the implications of the Taylor Review
  • amendments to Enforcement made by the Localism Act (including the power to decline to determine applications relating to enforcement matters and the Planning Enforcement Order)
  • additional s225 powers to remove or obliterate placards and posters
  • recent and further proposed changes to the validation and processing of Planning Applications
  • implications for Listed Building Control resulting from the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Bill currently passing through Parliament
  • recent and further proposed changes to 'Permitted Development'.

The session resulted in some excellent feedback from participants:

  • Exceeded expectations - very useful and relevant in current climate
  • I always find Vivien's workshops interesting, thought provoking and enjoyable
  • Great mix of information, summary of legislation, and humour
  • Very informative and covered all areas well. Relevant, up-to-date and the use of examples is always helpful!

The Management workshop was prepared and delivered by TRA Associate Chris Weetman. This second session was developed to help participants:

  • understand their strengths and weaknesses as a 'leader'
  • to communicate and listen effectively using a range of different tools
  • understand what motivates them and their staff and how important that is to achieving improved performance
  • treat staff as individuals and understand their particular strengths and weaknesses
  • identify resistance to change (both active and passive) and inspire a change in behaviour
  • handle confrontation and overcome resistance to change
  • look at how and when to adopt different approaches to issues as they arise.

The session was very well received and course feedback was very positive:

  • Good mix of theory, case studies, group exercises and involvement. Thanks!
  • Very interesting and thought provoking. Made me reflect on the attributes of a leader/manager
  • Very good at setting out management issues with good scenario setting. Good to handle 'drier' theory based issues in the morning, with room for more proactive discussions in the afternoon.

If your authority has any specific requirements with regards to in-house training and you would be interested in looking at the options available, please contact Angela Holmes for a no-commitment discussion. Remember, the prices we quote are 'all-inclusive' and so include all of our fees, presenter expenses and pre-course/course material. This means that there are no 'hidden extras' and clients are aware, from the outset, what they 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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