ENews Issue - 28 June 2013

ENews - June 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:

  • Empowering support staff: another successful conference
  • Confused about "non-validated" applications?
  • We can examine your CIL Charging Schedule
  • Receive TRA info direct to your inbox
  • A Forum on Enforcement 2013 - book early for discounted places!
  • Avoiding cost awards at appeal: brand new workshop coming up
  • Canterbury City Council: bespoke workshop series underway
  • Tailored post-election training for Cambridgeshire Councillors




Empowering support staff: another successful conference

Our annual Conference for Planning Support Staff was held in London earlier this month and delegates were treated to a range of speakers and topics - all aimed at helping support staff get geared up for the next wave of changes and challenges they are about to face.

The day kicked off with a presentation from planning consultant Julie Joseph which sought to impress upon support staff just how much their role matters in relation to what the government is trying to do with the planning system. It is really important for support staff to keep themselves up-to-date with the latest changes in legislation and procedures; if they don't do it themselves, their planning officers won't necessarily do it for them. She also looked at how much planning and the role of support staff have changed over the past few years and how future legislation will impact still further on support staff and their day-to-day activities.

Picking up on the theme of empowering support staff, the two parallel sessions looked at how support staff can, in two very different ways, best equip themselves for the future:

  • one session explored some of the detailed changes in legislation and how they affect the validation process
  • the other session looked at how support staff can utilise some simple inter-personal skills to get the best from the colleagues, applicants, agents and members of the public they engage with on a daily basis.

The validation session, facilitated by Senior Associate Vivien Green, was very timely indeed in light of the number of changes scheduled for the weeks and months ahead. It was encouraging to see that some councils were up to speed with what was due to happen but what Vivien had to say came as something of a shock to many delegates, underlining Julie's earlier point about not depending on others in the authority to keep you up-to-date. Hopefully, the session will have set many councils on the right path in terms of awareness of the changes and an understanding of what they need to do to make sure their practices comply.

The second parallel session, led by planning consultant and former LPA Head of Planning Chris Weetman, considered how to handle difficult people and situations in order to get the best out of potentially tricky encounters. Based on his experience, Chris was able to challenge a number of myths and preconceptions and help delegates realise that it is often support staff who hold the key in these exchanges and that properly communicating with people (rather than assuming or guessing) can often remove or reduce potential problems or flashpoints. With changes to the planning system coming thick and fast, the message was that it's important for support staff, who are often on the front-line, to be able to adapt to change and where possible to have the confidence to take control of situations.

The day was rounded off with an insightful exploration of design provided by Dan Roberts, Conservation and Urban Design Manager with Lichfield DC and part time Senior Lecturer at Birmingham City University. Dan's presentation considered some of the fundamental issues around design and the sorts of decisions that need to be made before plans and drawings can be submitted for LPA consideration. He left delegates in no doubt that designing buildings and spaces isn't easy, but that there are some basic considerations that most designers follow to find the right solution. The enthusiasm and knowledge that Dan imparted will hopefully rub off on delegates so that next time someone at reception needs help understanding a set of drawings, they will be able to explain things a bit more easily - especially if they use some of the techniques suggested by Chris!

As always, we'd like to thank the speakers who gave up their time in order to share their knowledge and experiences. Thanks also to the delegates who took part and who, based on the feedback, certainly seemed to enjoy the day and gained a lot from the presentations, parallel sessions and general interaction with colleagues from other authorities.

For the first time in several years, we are also planning a similar event in the north of England in the autumn. Keep an eye on the website for details of the event scheduled for 17 October in Manchester. We are organising the Manchester event in response to requests from those who would like to attend this event but can't travel to London, so we do hope that it will be well supported, especially by authorities from the north and midlands.

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Confused about "non-validated" applications?

Amendments to the Development Management Procedure Order (England) which came into effect yesterday (25th June) and relate to "non-validated" applications seem to be causing considerable confusion.

There is a debate ongoing on the Planning Admin Network (PAN) Discussion Forum about the implications of the changes for day-to-day validation work. PAN members are therefore encouraged to visit the Forum to join the discussion and/or pose their own questions. If you're not already a member, it's free and very simple to join - just visit the PAN homepage and click on Register on the top right.

In addition, it is worth noting that TRA's workshops for support staff which deal with validation and permitted development now cover the issues raised by the changes to handling "non-validated" applications and the issues raised by the earlier amendments that introduced more prior notification applications (as mentioned in May's ENews). There are standard workshops available on Validation and PD and we can also put together bespoke half-day or full-day sessions to cover the specific needs of individual authorities. These workshops can be run on an in-house basis at a time to suit you. For further information contact Angela Holmes.

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We can examine your CIL Charging Schedule

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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Receive TRA info direct to your inbox

Don't forget that as well as the information contained in ENews each month you can also access regular information on our forthcoming events by signing-up to our e-mailing database.

You can sign-up via our website and the subscription form allows you to choose from a number of topic areas to suit your interests. So why not sign up now and make sure you don't miss out on anything.

Please note that we will not pass on your information to anyone else. Details of our privacy policy are on the form.

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A Forum on Enforcement 2013 - book early for discounted places!

The arrangements have now been finalised for TRA's 2013 Forum on Enforcement which will be taking place a little earlier than usual this year on 26 September 2013 in Manchester.

TRA has always recognised enforcement as a vital and particularly complex part of the planning process, and our annual Forum on Enforcement has become firmly established as the update for people involved in or interested in enforcement. The event provides a unique opportunity to learn from our highly experienced panel of contributors and exchange useful experience with other participants in a structured, but not overly formal, atmosphere. The Forum aims to provide excellent CPD for everyone involved in the process: enforcement officers, legal and planning staff, and anyone from the private sector with a specific interest in enforcement.

This year's Contributors will include:

  • VIVIEN GREEN, Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate - A Legal Update of recent cases and their relevance to day-to-day enforcement work
  • NEIL COSTEN, Planning Enforcement Manager with Basildon Borough Council - Lessons learnt from the Dale Farm experience
  • JAMES COOKE, Acting Principal Planning Enforcement Officer at South Gloucestershire Council - Managing enforcement pro-actively
  • DAVID KAISERMAN, Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate - Tips on writing appeal statements and attending site inspections
  • RHONA McMEEKIN, Investigator with the Local Government Ombudsman - How to avoid being investigated by the LGO.

Further details and a booking form can be found on the TRA website. Bookings received before 5pm on Friday 19 July 2013 will be entitled to a discounted price of £150 (Normal event price £185). Further discounts are also available to those booking 2 or more places at the same time, under our regular Block Booking Scheme.

This is always a very popular event, so if you are unable to make a firm booking right away, provisional bookings are highly recommended and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

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Avoiding cost awards at appeal: brand new workshop coming up

We've introduced a brand new topic into our 2013 worshop programme on Avoiding Cost Awards at Appeal. There is an increasing tendency for both appellants and Councils to make an application for costs on appeal and an award against you is likely to be especially unwelcome in these days of limited resources.

The workshop will take place in York on 3 October 2013 and places can be booked now. Full details, including a booking form, are available on our website. Provisional bookings can be made using our online provisional bookings facility if you are not able to make a confirmed booking at this stage.

The workshop aims to save you the money and hassle involved in a costs claim by encouraging good practice throughout the application process, from initial receipt right through to appeal, including Committee decisions. It will advise on measures that can be put in place to minimise the risk of a successful costs claim against you but also in what circumstances you should pursue an application for costs against the other party. The content will be appropriate for anyone involved in development management within a local authority and for planning advisors to appellants and third parties.

This new workshop can also be delivered on an in-house basis for individual organisations/authorities (or authorities working together). Contact Angela Holmes for further information.

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Canterbury City Council: bespoke workshop series underway

Earlier in the year TRA was approached by Canterbury City Council who were looking to provide a series of bespoke training workshops for their officers and technical staff. In late February, five sessions were commissioned to be delivered once a month starting from April. These were:

1. Planning conditions and obligations

2. Enforcement and certificates of lawfulness

3. The basics of planning

4. Effective validation

5. An introduction to the appeal process.

The first three sessions, delivered by TRA Senior Associates, Lee Prebble (1 & 2) and Vivien Green (3), have now successfully run with very encouraging feedback from participants:

Planning conditions and obligations

  • Very helpful and thought provoking, also very well delivered! Nan Barton
  • Met my expectations; very informative. Barbara McAlpine.

Enforcement and certificates of lawfulness

  • Met expectations and more. Well delivered, structured and in plain English. Nicola Hughes
  • It was very useful in terms of giving an understanding of enforcement procedures and options. The exercises certainly made me think about the complexity of the issues involved. Nan Barton
  • It was a very well thought out and easy to understand presentation and was delivered in a way that made things a lot less daunting! An excellent overview of the content and the presenter clearly had extensive knowledge of the subject. Ben Young.

The basics of planning

  • I think the subject was presented in a clear, lively and informative manner. The presenter had a detailed knowledge of her subject. A very useful and informative workshop. Simon Hopkins
  • Expanded on knowledge gained via my job in Local Land Charges. Very well presented and informative. Barbara McAlpine
  • Very informative, I enjoyed the interaction. Wendy Taylor.

The fourth session in the series is scheduled to be delivered by Vivien Green in July, with the final workshop running in August and being presented by David Kaiserman.

TRA has extensive experience in preparing bespoke training solutions and in the past has successfully completed a series of several workshops for the Surrey Planning Officers Association (SPOA), the Hereford & Worcester County and District Planning Officers Group (CADPOG), and the Kent Planning Officers Group (KPOG), to name a few.

If you have any particular training requirements and would like to discuss the options available, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.

You can see more of the topics we can offer on an in-house basis via our website.

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Tailored post-election training for Cambridgeshire Councillors

Following the County Council elections in May, TRA was commissioned to deliver Councillor training on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council. The training was for the benefit of newly elected Members who will serve on their various planning committees - the planning committee covering the whole County (Minerals/Waste CC development) and two joint committees (County/District) for major growth areas on the edge of/near Cambridge. Given the range of developments involved TRA developed a bespoke training day to accommodate the differing needs of each group of attendees.

The morning session was essentially a shortened version of our popular one-day workshop 'A Briefing on Planning', which was delivered to the whole group by two experienced Councillor presenters, Jed Griffiths and Lee Prebble. This part of the day covered the basic policy and procedural aspects of the UK planning system, giving an introduction and an overview with a particular focus on development management.

After lunch the presenters split the participants into two groups; one of which was taken by Jed who covered County matters. This session set out the role and responsibilities of the County Council in planning matters, with a focus on minerals and waste planning and the policies which apply to the County. A case study was used to explain the processes for determining planning applications and the role of Councillors in decision-making.

The second group was taken by Lee who focused on Major Developments. The session considered the issues that can arise and the roles and responsibilities of Councillors in Cambridgeshire in relation to major developments. In particular, it looked at specialist aspects such as s106 Planning Obligations, Regulation 3 permissions and the Community Infrastructure Levy. Again, a case study was used to explain particular issues.

The training was well received by attendees:

  • Met my expectations and more; excellent! Very interesting talk, lovely presenters and both provided a lot of great information. Cllr Peter Roberts, Cambridge City Council
  • For a first time Councillor it did point out a number of issues and applicable areas that I need to review and enhance my knowledge of! Cllr Adrian Dent, Cambridgeshire County Council
  • The course gave a good basic grounding in the subject, and was well presented. Cllr Stephen Frost, Cambridgeshire County Council
  • A lot of content covered in a single day session, slides were very helpful. Cllr M. Mason, Cambridgeshire County Council.

If you feel that your Councillors would benefit from a tailored training session, similar to the one delivered at Cambridgeshire, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with Angela Holmes to discuss your requirements, without obligation.



Alternatively, the Training for Councillors section of our website provides some further information and answers the most frequently asked questions. We generally ask for around 4-6 weeks to arrange Councillor training but aim to accommodate clients wherever possible thanks to our large team of experienced Councillor presenters. And don't forget - the prices we quote are 'all inclusive' which means that there are no hidden extras and 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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