ENews Issue - 23 May 2013

ENews - May 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.

View our contact Information or subscription information.

In this issue:

  • Neighbourhood Plans: independent examination service from TRA
  • Training on Planning Enforcement: options for different experience levels
  • Looking for help on the implications of the new PD rights?
  • Training for Councillors involved in the post-election period
  • TRA prepares updated probity guidance for Planning Advisory Service
  • Improving Validation through in-house training




Neighbourhood Plans: independent examination service from TRA

The Localism Act 2011 introduced the new right for communities to come together to draw up a Neighbourhood Development Plan or Neighbourhood Development Order for their local area.

Where communities takes up this right, the LPA has a number of statutory duties to support the process, including making arrangements for the independent examination of the Plan or Order before it can be put to a referendum.

In appointing an Examiner, the LPA is free to choose (with the agreement of the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum) anyone who:

  • has appropriate qualifications and experience
  • is independent of the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum, and
  • has no interest in any land that may be affected by the proposed plan.

TRA has provided support for the planning service for many years and, being independent of both local and central government, is ideally placed to offer a team of appropriately qualified and experienced Independent Examiners.

Our Examiners are all Chartered Town Planers but have a wide range of backgrounds and experience, enabling us to choose the most appropriate person for each examination based on the characteristics of the area, particular issues involved etc.

Please see our website for further information on TRA's Neighbourhood Plan Examinations service.

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Training on Planning Enforcement: options for different experience levels

TRA has always recognised enforcement as a vital and very complex part of the planning process. Staff involved need to have a thorough grasp of the policy, statutory, legal and practical issues involved and the procedural steps required to ensure that appropriate enforcement action can be taken and substantiated in any given situation. As enforcement can become particularly litigious it is also important to keep up to date with current case law.



To support this, we regularly include a number of events in our training programme for planning & development staff, which particularly focus on planning enforcement. Some of the forthcoming events include:

  • The Basics of Planning Enforcement - London, 19 September 2013

    This workshop is aimed at planning staff who are either directly involved in enforcement work or who wish to have a contextual understanding of the system, as well as relatively new or less experienced enforcement staff. Specific aspects covered include: what can be enforced - the definition of development and what constitutes unauthorised development; the immunity rules; how to deal with complaints; evidence collection; the effective use of the enforcement toolkit; and practical steps to make enforcement more efficient and effective.
  • Planning Enforcement in Practice: the core elements in detail - York, 3 October 2013

    This workshop will be best suited to those who already have at least some experience of enforcement either as enforcement officers, planning officers or lawyers. For anyone who has previously attended our popular Basics of Planning Enforcement workshop this session would be an ideal 'next step'. The workshop focuses on the nuts and bolts of handling enforcement complaints: getting information to assess a breach; drafting a report on expediency; and considering the use of an enforcement notice. There will be an opportunity to look at what went wrong with some real notices and whether they could be rectified on appeal. Where appropriate, the workshop will also include an update on any government proposals affecting enforcement.
  • Enforcement of Listed Building Control (NEW) - London, 5 November 2013

    This brand new workshop will provide a valuable introduction or essential CPD for Enforcement Officers who investigate and deal with breaches of Listed Building Control and complements our existing workshops on the "Basics" and the "Core Elements" of Planning Enforcement. It is suitable for Planning and Conservation Officers who may get drawn into dealing with breaches of listed building control, managers who may have to authorise taking enforcement action or lawyers who have to draft notices or consider prosecutions. The workshop will look at the legislative framework (including relevant provisions of the Enterprise and Regulatory Reform Act), the pros and cons of using particular procedures and current best practice. Topics covered during the day will include: what is listed, defining the curtil age, what constitutes a breach of listed building control, investigations and use of statutory notices to obtain information, when to caution, using enforcement tools, appeals, whether to "prosecute (s9 and s43), what has to be proven/statutory defences and the use being made of POCA. Reference will be made throughout to relevant case law.

Further details and booking forms for all these workshops are available on our website via the above links. If you would like to attend but are unable to make a firm booking straight away, places can be reserved provisionally by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

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Looking for help on the implications of the new PD rights?

A significant number of new Permitted Development rights will come into effect on the 30 May, the most noteable of which relates to rear single storey extensions to dwellings. Most of the new rights will involve the need for prior notification to the LPA, so staff will need to be aware of both the detail of the specific changes to PD and the practical implications of an increase in the number of prior notifications needing to be handled.

TRA has provided practically-based workshops on PD for many years and both our inter-authority and in-house workshops are being updated to include consideration of the new classes and the additional prior notification requirements. Our inter-authority workshop will be running in Manchester on 21 November and places are still available. To reserve a place provisionally please contact Shelagh Pooley or use our online provisional booking facility. To make a firm booking please complete and return the booking form available on our website.

In the meantime, we are also able to deliver workshops on an in-house basis for individual authorities (or groups of authorities working together). For delivery in-house we can offer our standard workshop, looking at the wider picture of PD, including the recent changes, or a more focused session looking specifically at the new classes and the implications from validation through to prior approval being granted or refused. For further information and a no-obligation quotation please contact Angela Holmes.

PAN members please note that the May edition of PAN News includes articles on several of the new PD rights and their implications. If you are not yet a member of PAN (the Planning Admin Network) but would like to access the newsletter, you can register and join for free via the PAN website.

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Training for Councillors involved in the post-election period

Following the recent County Council elections, some authorities may now be considering the options for providing training in the planning system for re-elected and/or new members. As the UK's leading provider of practitioner-presented training for Councillors involved in planning, TRA has trained Councillors in more than 220 local authorities in England, Wales and Scotland.

We can respond to various training requirements, providing individual bespoke sessions as appropriate, but particularly popular in the post-election period are our one-day sessions:

  • A Briefing on Planning for Councillors
  • The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice

If the time commitment for Councillors is a major consideration we can also offer shorter sessions (usually 3 hours) with flexible timings during a morning, afternoon or evening. These sessions are essentially shortened versions of the above one-day workshops and are delivered by one presenter.



The Training for Councillors section of our website (England/Wales and Scotland) provides further information and answers the most frequently asked questions. If you are interested in the possibility of arranging a training session and would like any additional information, such as an outline programme, please feel free to contact me without obligation.

Demand is always very high in the period immediately after the elections, however due to our large team of experienced presenters we should have no problem in accommodating new bookings for June and July at this stage. We would highly recommend that you get in touch with Angela Holmes as soon as possible to discuss your preferred date(s).

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TRA prepares updated probity guidance for Planning Advisory Service

TRA has recently produced an updated guidance note on probity in planning on behalf of the Planning Advisory Service (PAS). The guide reflects the changes brought about by the Localism Act. While suitable for both councillors and officers, the guide's main purpose is to help councillors understand their roles and responsibilities and how to be an effective councillor without getting into "probity" difficulties.

The PAS guide can be downloaded here.

TRA is one of the organisations chosen by PAS last year to be on their 4-year supplier framework to help them deliver their work programme. Most of TRA's involvement so far has been in delivering PAS-branded briefings for councillors in authorities around the country.

TRA has a great deal of experience in providing training for Councillors involved in planning, gained over almost 20 years. Details of our own training sessions can be found on our website.

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Improving Validation through in-house training

Validation is a critical, time sensitive element in the processing of applications. It requires a mixture of speed and thoroughness and a failure in either can have unfortunate consequences for the Authority and the Applicant. With authorities constantly under pressure to deliver a fast, top-quality planning service it is imperative that this crucial aspect of the process is handled both effectively and efficiently.

With this in mind TRA is able to deliver a one-day training workshop "Validating planning applications and related issues" which focuses solely on the validation process for planning applications. As well as looking at the current requirements and demystifying the legal elements surrounding validation using relevant case studies/group exercises to help reinforce key points, the Presenter also looks at the Government's proposals for further streamlining of the information requirements for planning applications.

Since it first ran in October 2010 the workshop has become an extremely popular session with our in-house clients, with some excellent participant feedback:

  • Even better than I expected. All questions were answered and very helpful and clear information was provided, thanks a lot! I was also very grateful for the detail relating to my concerns and for the guidance given directly to me. Sarah Booth, Erewash BC
  • Was better and more in depth than I expected, with many useful aspects covered. Useful links to further documents and info also given which will be useful to my department. Richard Collins, Peak District NPA
  • Met all expectations and more. I would highly recommend the course to other Support Officers. Kathie Batley, North East Derbyshire DC
  • A very thorough update on the Validation process together with opportunities for more efficient working. Jenny Donovan, North Herts DC
  • Validation and legal requirements covered. Useful discussion on standard best practice. Confident leadership and presentation from a clearly knowledgeable presenter. Elizabeth Goode, St Albans DC
  • The course exceeded my expectations and covered a lot of the key elements of the beginning stages of a planning application. I found that the slide presentations summarised the main parts of the legal documents, and found the additional links to websites useful for future reading. Very informative with practical guidance notes. Charlotte Martin, Cheshire East Council
  • Really informative, lots of useful information, some of which has already been put into practice! The style of presenting was excellent - encouraged questions throughout. Carrie Hawes, Christchurch & East Dorset Councils.

Recently TRA has also developed a BRAND NEW session "Effective Validation: good practice for all application types" which is now available for delivery on an in-house basis. This session covers the whole range of applications (listed buildings, conservation area consents etc.) including prior notification under the new PD Classes, rather than just planning applications.

Both of these sessions have been developed by Senior TRA Associate Vivien Green, who also delivers the workshops.



Should you have any specific concerns/requirements regarding staff training in this area, we are more than happy to discuss tailoring the content to ensure that the training meets with an individual client's needs; so if you have a particular requirement, please feel free to ask.

To receive more information on running in-house Validation training, please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes, without obligation. Please be reminded that the prices we quote are inclusive of all of our fees, presenter's expenses and pre-course/course documentation. This means that there are no 'hidden extras' and our clients are aware from the outset what they can expect to pay at the 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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