ENews Issue - 28 January 2014

ENews - January 2014

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:

  • What were you doing 30 years ago?...
  • TRA Training Workshop Programmes for 2014 now available
  • Looking to appoint an Examiner for Neighbourhood Plans?
  • Certificated Enforcement course: latest graduates
  • Are you a part of the Planning Admin Network (PAN)?
  • Is it time to start looking at post-election training for Councillors involved in planning?
  • Bespoke workshop on managing expectations and dealing with complainants




What were you doing 30 years ago?...

It's possible that some of our ENews readers weren't even born 30 years ago, but back in 1984 Trevor Roberts was busy establishing Trevor Roberts Associates. Much has changed since then, including Trevor's retirement in 2009, but TRA is still going strong under the leadership of Principal Director, Penny O'Shea. Maintaining a business with TRA's reputation is a considerable acheivement and all the staff are extremely proud to be celebrating our 30th Anniversary in 2014.

Details of the training and consultancy support we can offer to the planning service can be found on our website and we look forward to being of assistance to you during 2014 and beyond.

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TRA Training Workshop Programmes for 2014 now available

We are pleased to announce that the new Training Workshop Programmes for Planning and Development Staff in both England/Wales and Scotland have now been finalised and can be viewed on the TRA website:

  • 2014 Training Programme for England and Wales
  • 2014 Training Programme for Scotland

The TRA Training Programmes provide a unique and comprehensive package of value for money workshops and update conferences. These are 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 are based on our 30 years' experience in providing specialist training; they 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.

Once again, both programmes see the introduction of a number of new workshops which will run alongside some of our more established and popular events. New topics being covered are:

  • Securing Good Design within the NPPF (England/Wales only)
  • Writing Effective Reports (England/Wales and Scotland)
  • Managing the Planning Customer's Experience (England/Wales and Scotland)
  • Basic Tree Hazard Assessment and Tree Preservation Orders (England/Wales and Scotland)
  • Operational Development and Permitted Development (Scotland only)
  • Harnessing the Potential of Support Staff: an essential step towards improved planning performance (Scotland only)

Detailed leaflets giving further information for these and all the workshops in this year's programme are available to download from the TRA website, and copies of our brochure giving details of the programme as a whole are currently being circulated to our mailing contacts.

Bookings are invited on any of the events for 2014 and booking forms are available on the website. Our discounted block booking scheme remains in place for 2014. The scheme has proved very popular in recent years with authorities/organisations looking to gain better value for money wherever possible. Those wishing to take advantage of the scheme can earn up to 15% discount by booking 2 or more places at the same time (over any number of events in the programme). Block Booking forms giving further details are available to download from the website: England/Wales or Scotland

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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Looking to appoint an Examiner for Neighbourhood Plans?

If you work in local authority planning the chances are that your authority is already involved - at least to some extent - in supporting your local communities with neighbourhood planning. According to DCLG, more than half of all LPAs in England have received applications to designate one or more Neighbourhood Areas and 630 had been successfully designated by the end of 2013. Although less than 10% of Neighbourhood Areas have published a Draft Plan so far, neighbourhood planning is clearly gaining momentum and a lot more Plans are expected to come through in 2014.

An LPA has a number of statutory duties to support neighbourhood planning in their area, including making arrangements for the independent examination of a Plan before it can be put to a referendum. The LPA can choose who to appoint to examine the Plan (with the agreement of the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum) provided that the Examiner:

  • 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.

Having provided support for the planning service for many years and, being independent of both local and central government, Trevor Roberts Associates is ideally placed to offer appropriately qualified and experienced Independent Examiners. Our Examiners are all Chartered Town Planners but have a wide range of backgrounds and experience, enabling us to put forward 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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Certificated Enforcement course: latest graduates

Many congratulations to the most recent students to successfully complete TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement. Eight students were awarded the Certificate during 2013:

  • Deborah Jeakins, Cambridge CC
  • Paula Wilde, St Albans DC
  • Samantha McDowell, Broadland DC
  • Peter Simons, Hertsmere BC
  • Deb Struthers, North Norfolk DC
  • Rajinder Lalli, Warwick DC
  • Ali Pridmore, Norwich CC
  • Alan Barrett, South Derbyshire DC.

Undertaking the certificated course is a significant commitment but the benefits, for both the individual and their organisation, can be considerable. Prospective students might find some of the recent graduates' reflections on the course helpful in working out whether the course is right for them:

  • I found the TRA Certificate in Planning Enforcement both challenging and rewarding, providing me with a solid understanding of planning control and enforcement. The courses were very well structured but flexible enough to allow detailed discussion with our Course Tutor which allowed the group to share valuable personal experiences and best practice as well as the potential pitfalls. The TRA training has given me the confidence and knowledge to deal more effectively with my ever increasing workload, especially the more complex planning enforcement cases. Ali Pridmore.
  • The course structure involved case studies and assignments which required research and an application of the knowledge gained from each module. This greatly helped in the learning and understanding of the regulations. The completion of the course was instrumental in my promotion to Enforcement Manager where I have greatly practiced the knowledge gained from the course. Rajinder Lalli.
  • I found the TRA Certificate in Planning Enforcement to be a well-structured, informative course. It opened my eyes to aspects of the job that I had not previously considered and I feel that it has led to my role as an Enforcement Officer being carried out more effectively and with more confidence. Deb Struthers.
  • I found the TRA Certificate in Planning Enforcement both interesting and challenging. The structure of the modules and associated assignments gradually increased my knowledge and confidence by requiring the research and application of legislation and relevant case law to real examples of breaches of planning control from within my Local Authority. The Certificate is exceptional vocational training that is focussed on the needs of officers working within Planning. Deborah Jeakins.

These students join the long list of students who have been awarded the Certificate since the programme began in 1996 - there are now 145 graduates.

Full details of the 2014 modules 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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Are you a part of the Planning Admin Network (PAN)?

The Planning Admin Network (PAN) has been established since November 2006; it has over 700 members and is of benefit to ANYONE who is interested in how the Planning Systems in England, Wales and Scotland function; it is not just aimed at Admin/Support staff, as the name might suggest.

The network functions via a dedicated website and because the network operates online, it's easy to contact people working in similar jobs regardless of whether they are in the next town or at the other end of the country - an opportunity you don't often get!

Membership is absolutely FREE and the key features are:

  • an interactive discussion forum - which offers members an opportunity to ask questions/get advice from other members
  • a monthly news section - enabling you to keep up to date with developments in planning
  • a useful links page - signposting other websites which may be helpful
  • a calendar - which allows you to see and set yourself reminders for upcoming TRA inter-authority workshops which might be of interest.

The Discussion Forum in particular is a very popular and useful feature; allowing members to pose questions and/or share their own knowledge and experience with others working in similar roles. There is also the opportunity to subscribe to the forum so that you receive an emailed notification when anyone has posted a new thread or replied to an existing thread - this ensures that you do not miss out on any of the action!

PAN News is updated once a month and is full of interesting and useful articles about the planning world and the wider context such as new legislation, current consultations etc. See an example of previous PAN News.

The PAN registration process is quick and easy and you only need to provide your preferred username, email and password. If you would like to join the network, just click on "register" on the homepage at www.planningadminnetwork.co.uk. Alternatively, to see more details visit the PAN page on our website.

Don't delay, sign up to become a PAN member today and open yourself up to a wealth of FREE information!

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Is it time to start looking at post-election training for Councillors involved in planning?

With local elections coming up at the end of May, your authority may well be starting to consider the options for providing training for Councillors who are involved in the planning process. 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 throughout the UK.

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 - covering planning procedures and policies, and focusing especially on Development Management, and
  • The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice - covering issues such as conflicts and declarations of interest, material considerations, lobbying, and making the decision.

Both of these sessions are delivered by two members of our presenting team (providing a wide range of experience) and a real life case study is referred to throughout which helps to reinforce key points during the day. This gives the training a much stronger impact and, in our experience, the case study in particular is an element which Councillors find interesting and useful.

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. Please note that due to time constraints a full case study cannot be used during the shorter sessions.

The Training for Councillors section of our website provides further information and answers the most frequently asked questions.

If you are interested in obtaining a quotation, including an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to Angela Holmes. 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.

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!

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Bespoke workshop on managing expectations and dealing with complainants

In the potentially confrontational atmosphere that exists around planning and heritage issues, understanding how so called 'soft' interpersonal skills can make a bad situation better is not to be underestimated. It doesn't matter how long you have been in planning, the chances are you will have been involved in some form of disagreement over planning issues at some point; whether with developers, their agents, the public or even elected members. Whilst the nature of the disagreement itself may be different, there will always be common factors that can be handled with a range of common skills and techniques.

With this in mind, Hastings Borough Council recently commissioned TRA to develop a bespoke two-day course for officers entitled Managing Public Expectations and Dealing with Complainants.

The workshop was prepared and delivered by TRA presenter, Chris Weetman. It looked at a number of common expectations that LPAs come up against and showed how, by breaking them down, participants could gain a better understanding of the issues they are really dealing with. The training focused on improving a range of skills to help participants deal with these difficult situations better and hopefully provide better outcomes.

Coverage included:

  • understanding your role as a service provider
  • where expectations come from
  • why people say what they do- what do they really mean?
  • listening and communication skills
  • dealing with conflict - the skills and qualities needed
  • the role of the public and pressure groups in the decision making process
  • understanding the role of the Councillor
  • handling criticism from third parties
  • how to achieve a positive outcome.

The feedback from course participants was very positive:

  • The course did meet my expectations. The majority of the session was common sense that needed to be reminded. Useful to look at things from an agents/public view. Lesley Curd
  • The presenter was knowledgeable, interactive and gave a range of case studies. Used examples of current issues and past issues from his experiences and gave a perspective from several view points. Calum Rouley
  • I have found the course very useful in dealing with people in all aspects of work and home life. Sally Simpson
  • Very good content on both days. Very knowledgeable presenter. I feel I have gained from the course. Kim West
  • Covered a range of relevant issues and included engaging exercises that backed up the contents of the talks. Matthew Wardley
  • The training exceeded my expectations, as I found it very useful to see things from a perspective other than 'pro-council'. Much training delivers content from a 'perfect' world view, which as we know is not always the case, and authorities do not always act in a perfect manner. Very useful - many thanks! Toby Balcikonis

This two-day workshop is now available to all clients and can be delivered either on consecutive days or with a short break in-between. If you would like more information on this training course, including a copy of an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes to receive a no-obligation quotation.

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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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