Latest News

Neighbourhood Plan Examination service from TRA - 26/08/16

There has been a rapid rise recently in communities getting involved in neighbourhood planning. According to recent figures almost 1900 communities (representing over 8 million people) are now undertaking neighbourhood planning and over 200 Neighbourhood Plans have successfully made it through referendum so far.

The choice of Independent Examiner for each Neighbourhood Plan is down to the LPA (with the agreement of the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum) and they can appoint anyone who:

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

TRA has put together a team of appropriately qualified and experienced practitioners to act as Independent Examiners for Neighbourhood Plans. Having provided support for the planning service for many years and being independent of both local and central government, TRA is ideally placed to offer this type of service to LPAs. All our examiners are Chartered Town Planners but have a wide range of backgrounds and experience, enabling us to suggest the most appropriate people based on the characteristics of the area, particular issues involved etc.

The TRA service offers expert Examiners, a competitive pricing structure, and the excellent administrative backup and customer service for which TRA is well known.

Further information can be found on our website. If you are interested in receiving a quotation or have any additional questions you can contact Penny O'Shea on 01204 385678 or via without obligation.

Latest vacancies on TRA Jobs Board - 25/08/16

Here's our pick of the current vacancies on our Planning Jobs Board (with closing dates in late August and September):

Advertising on TRA's Jobs Board is entirely free to local authorities handling their own recruitment. It is also free to search for those looking for a new opportunity so if you are in the market for a new challenge, visit TRA’s Planning Jobs Board regularly.

If you would like to advertise a vacancy you can download our 1-page pdf which provides more information. Alternatively, you can simply send your text and the authority's logo to The Jobs Board is fully managed by TRA's staff in Bolton to ensure that the whole process of advertising is as quick and hassle-free as possible.

And please - if you do apply for one of these vacancies we'd be really grateful if you could mention that you saw it on the TRA Planning Jobs Board (most application forms ask this question).

TRA 2016 Training Programme to re-commence in September - 23/08/16

The TRA Workshop Programmes for England/Wales and Scotland get underway again in September following the Summer break. Bookings have continued to flow in and a number of the workshops are now fully booked, but here are some of the ones taking place in September with places still available:

  • Being an Effective Witness at Inquiries - London, 22 September
    This workshop is aimed at both planning and other technical officers who may be called as an Expert Witness at a Planning Inquiry but have relatively little or no previous experience. It is intended to promote a good understanding of the preparation required; what should be included in a witness statement; and how to give evidence in chief and under cross-examination. The workshop will provide participants with a solid grounding to improve their confidence, and thereby effectiveness, when giving evidence.  It will identify the legal and procedural requirements and provide practical advice on the approach to providing both the written and oral evidence needed to support reasons for refusal, conditions to be attached to a permission, or justification for enforcement action.
  • Use of Conditions: necessary, precise and enforceable? - Manchester, 27 September
    This recently developed workshop is suitable for anyone involved in the drafting of conditions or in monitoring and enforcing them. Efforts to front-load the application process with the introduction of local information lists were intended to reduce the need for back-loading applications with conditions, but there is not much evidence that this has been successful. Developers’ concerns have prompted the Government to re-visit the subject and also to introduce changes to speed up the discharge of conditions. The workshop will consider these matters and also go “back to basics’ in respect of what the Act says about the ability to impose conditions. Topics will include: meeting the legal tests; using "model" conditions; the importance of giving sound and convincing reasons; how to deal with conditions suggested by consultees; control through s106 or condition?; and handling applications to vary/remove conditions. The NPPF requires LPAs to consider producing Local Enforcement Plans, not only to explain how they will deal with breaches of planning control but also “how they will monitor the implementation of planning permissions”. So this workshop will also look at the problems involved in monitoring and securing compliance with conditions. It will conclude by looking at ways in which all those involved can work together to improve effectiveness.
  • A Beginner's Guide to Processing Planning Applications (NEW FOR 2016) - Manchester, 27 September
    This brand new workshop is aimed at all those who are new (or relatively new) to processing planning applications.  It provides a comprehensive introduction for newly qualified planning officers with little hands-on experience, support staff who are now taking on responsibility for handling applications, and enforcement staff who deal with retrospective applications. The workshop will take participants through the fundamentals of development management: the decision making process, the role of planning policy, material considerations, the use of conditions and the appeals system. Providing practical guidance and useful tips, its aim is to increase participants’ confidence in their new role and provide important pointers for further learning and development.
  • Negotiation Skills: the key to achieving planning goals and objectives - Glasgow, 29 September
    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; power and the personality dimension. The workshop combines theories with working references from the experience of participants.

Further details and booking forms for all these workshops can be found on the TRA website via the above links. If you are unable to send a firm booking straight away for any event(s) you may be interested in, provisional bookings are recommended and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via the online provisional bookings page of the website.

Don't forget, there is still time to take advantage of our popular Discounted Block Booking Scheme to receive between 10 and 15% discount when booking 2 or more places at the same time over any number of events. Further details are on this special Block Booking Form: (England/Wales) (Scotland)

New TRA website coming soon - 23/08/16

Work on our brand new website is going well.  We're not quite ready to launch yet but we expect the new site to go live in the next few weeks. 

As well improved editing facilities and other back-end features to help us it will include a number of improvements for you as visitors:

  • a fresh, more modern look
  • easier navigation from the homepage
  • a fully responsive design that adapts automatically when viewing on mobile devices
  • quicker site and page load times, and
  • a better internal search engine to make it easier to find what you are looking for on the site.

Please do look out for the new website. We'd be interested to know what you think.....

Don't forget to book your place on this year's Forum on Enforcement - 22/08/16

Just a reminder that details were published recently for this year's Forum on Enforcement. Bookings are going well for this popular event, but there are places still available so make sure you book yours soon!

The Forum is firmly established as the update for people involved or interested in planning enforcement. The event provides excellent CPD and an opportunity to learn from our highly experienced panel of speakers, as well as the chance to exchange useful experience with colleagues form other authorities and organisations.

Topics being discussed this year are:

  • a Legal Update
  • how to put a Direct Action Plan into practice when previous enforcement action has failed to remedy a breach of control
  • a look at how new procedures for monitoring of development at 'major' development sites is operating at one authority
  • an outline of the process that must be followed to ensure success in obtaining planning injunctions
  • how another authority has successfully implemented a mechanism for recovering the costs of taking enforcement action from owners or occupiers.

Further details for this event and a leaflet/booking form are available to view or download on the TRA website. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, you can provisionally reserve places by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisonal booking facility.

Get value for money with in-house training from TRA - 05/08/16

Training budgets may be extremely tight at the moment, but neglecting training often proves to be short-sighted. It is precisely in times like these when you really need your key resources – i.e. your staff – to be working effectively and efficiently.

Commissioning in-house training from TRA makes real economic sense at any time, but especially in the current climate. Organising a workshop on an in-house basis represents a unique opportunity to have training which matches the requirements of the staff and the authority, delivered in a way which is both cost effective and convenient.

TRA has extensive experience of delivering in-house training for staff involved in Development Management and Enforcement, having trained staff in over 260 authorities

Examples of some of the workshops currently on offer include:

Development Management

  • The Basics of Planning
  • A Beginner's Guide to Processing Planning Applications - NEW
  • Permitted Development and Dealing with Prior Approval Notifications
  • Development in the Green Belt - NEW
  • An Introduction to Planning Obligations and Agreements
  • Negotiation Skills: the key to achieving planning goals and objectives


  • Appearing at Hearings
  • Appearing at Public Inquiries (2 days) - includes a Mock Inquiry on the second day
  • Writing Effective Reports: making the best of your case (and your time) - NEW


  • The Basics of Planning Enforcement
  • Ensuring Effective Enforcement: drafting the notice through to compliance - NEW
  • Planning Enforcement in Practice: The core elements in detail
  • Enforcement of Listed Building Control
  • The Enforcement Toolkit and how to use it – NEW.

A full list can be viewed on our website. Please note that we are more than happy to consider designing bespoke/tailored workshops for individual clients if required, so let us know if you have any specific requirements.

In-house workshops can easily be organised for a single local authority or for a group of neighbouring authorities joining together. Joint sessions have proved particularly useful for smaller authorities where they don’t have quite enough staff to make an in-house session viable themselves.  See the advantages for the client authority when running in-house training. 

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.  To see an outline programme for any of our in-house sessions, or to have a no-commitment discussion about in-house training, please contact Angela Holmes.

Hart DC bring their Town & Parish Councillors up to speed with Enforcement - 04/08/16

Hart District Council recently commissioned TRA to prepare and deliver a bespoke in-house training day on Planning Enforcement.

The session was for the benefit of Town and Parish Councillors and considered the key elements of planning enforcement, which is the most complex, contentious and litigious part of the planning process; where there is often a lot at stake. Taking effective enforcement action when it is essential is the key to maintaining the integrity of the plan making and decision taking processes and the public's confidence in the Council's planning service.

The workshop was developed and delivered by TRA Presenter, Lee Prebble, and participant feedback was very encouraging:

  • Covered a wide range of subjects. A useful day. Cllr David Jackson, Crookham Village PC
  • A very useful event. Clear presentations and excellent slides. Cllr Helen Butler, Crookham Village PC
  • A very good course, I learnt a lot.  The presenter was very knowledgeable. Cllr Dai Pierce, Fleet Town Council.

TRA can offer training for Councillors on various specific aspects of planning and the most popular topics can be seen on our website.

If you think that your Councillors would benefit from an in-house training session on Enforcement, or any other aspect of planning, then please contact Angela Holmes to discuss your requirements and receive a ‘no obligation’ quotation.

Look out for the new TRA website - coming soon - 22/07/16

We are busy working on a brand new website at the moment. As well as making life easier for us with improved editing facilities and other back-end features it will include a number of improvements for you as visitors:

  • a fresh, more modern look
  • a fully responsive design that adapts automatically for those of you viewing the site on mobile devices
  • quicker site and page load times, and
  • a better internal search engine to make it easier to find what you are looking for on the site.

The website will hopefully be ready to go live in August but we will keep you updated via ENews.

Training workshops for communities looking to prepare a Neighbourhood Plan - 18/07/16

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.

To assist, TRA offers two separate half-day training workshops 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. 

Shillingstone Neighbourhood Plan submitted to TRA for examination - 18/07/16

The latest neighbourhood plan examination to be organised through TRA's Independent Examination Service is for the Shillingstone Neighbourhood Plan.  The plan was submitted by North Dorset District Council earlier this month and Brian Dodd has been appointed as the Examiner.

Our Neighbourhood Plan examination service offers a competitive pricing structure and the excellent administrative backup and customer service for which TRA is well known. We can usually put forward a suggested Examiner (or Examiners) within a few days. If you would like to know more about the service please visit our Neighbourhood Plan Examination page.

If you are interested in receiving a quotation or have any additional questions you can contact Penny O'Shea on 01204 385678 or without obligation.

Planning Enforcement - Oxford City Council brush up on the basics - 18/07/16

TRA was recently commissioned to deliver its popular training workshop The Basics of Planning Enforcement at Oxford City Council.

The workshop is aimed at DM staff who are either directly or indirectly 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.

It provides a clear guide to understanding the basics of the enforcement process whilst looking at practical steps to make enforcement more efficient and effective. The workshop helps participants to gain greater confidence, by improving their awareness of the context in which they are currently working.

The session was presented by TRA presenter, Vivien Green, and course feedback was excellent:

  • Very good and aimed well considering a mix of knowledge. Answered lots of questions and gave a lot of information in a short space of time. Sara Maylon
  • The training met all of my expectations. Jeff Mbariti 
  • My expectations were exceed, learnt a lot. Such a wide and deep topic clearly explained. Fiona Bartholomew
  • Exceeded expectations. A very clear and knowledgeable presenter. Learnt a lot. N.Robinson.

If you are interested in running this session on an in-house basis, as Oxford did, then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes for more information, including an outline programme.

This is one of TRA’s most popular training courses and other clients who have commissioned this session recently include Doncaster, South Gloucestershire and Cheshire West and Chester.

A Forum on Enforcement 2016 - time to book your place! - 17/06/16

Details have now been finalised for the latest Forum on Enforcement due to take place at the Manchester Meeting Place on Thursday 13 October 2016.

This event is firmly established as the update for people involved in or interested in planning enforcement. It is a unique opportunity to learn from our highly experienced panel of contributors and exchange useful experience with colleagues from other authorities and organisations.

TRA has always recognised enforcement as a vital and very complex aspect of the planning process. Over the years we have been at the forefront of providing a range of training and education opportunities including our annual Forum for enforcement officers, legal and planning staff, and anyone from the private sector with a specific interest in planning enforcement.

As enforcement can become particularly litigious it is important we all keep up to date with recent case law and so the day will begin with a Legal Update by solicitor IZINDI VISAGIE, founder of Ivy Legal.

Three parallel sessions will then be run once before and once after lunch giving everyone the chance to attend the two which are of most interest to them:

  • DAVID BAILEY, Traveller and Diversity Manager with Fenland District Council will explain how to put a Direct Action Plan into practice when previous enforcement action has failed to remedy a breach of control
  • LUKE VEILLET, Planning Officer (Enforcement) at South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Councils has been the lead officer responsible for implementing new procedures for proactively monitoring 'major' development sites and will look at how this is operating
  • DON SORBY, Principal Planning Investigations Officer with Doncaster MBC has been involved in a significant number of cases where planning injunctions have been urgently required and will outline the process that must be followed to ensure success.

The final plenary session will be given by CHRIS FRANCE, Head of Planning at North York Moors National Park Authority. Chris will explain how his authority has successfully implemented a mechanism for recovering the costs of taking enforcement action from owners or occupiers. In light of current budget cuts, this should be of considerable interest to all planning authorities!

The Forum will be Chaired by MARK DALL, Enforcement Officer with Fife Council and former Chair of the Scottish Planning Enforcement Forum.

Further details for the Forum and a booking form can be found on the TRA website. If you are unable to send a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings are recommended to reserve your place(s), and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provsional bookings page.

As always discounts of between 10 and 15% are available when making bookings of two or more places at the same time, over any number of events in the 2016 programme. Details of other events available and a discounted block booking form can be found on our website.