Latest News

Certificated Enforcement course: note for students - 22/08/14

After 17 years, with more than 400 students taking part and 146 graduates having been awarded the certificate so far, TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement is still going strong and demand for places is as high as ever. Whilst this is really good news - especially for us! - it can make it difficult to ensure that students are able to attend the modules they want to, when they want to.

If you are already a student on this course you will have been in touch with Shelagh Pooley - who handles the course administration - at some stage. If you are interested in continuing with the programme, Shelagh would strongly recommend that you let her know which modules you would ideally like to attend. This won't commit you to any particular module but it will certainly help with her planning and make it more likely you'll get the place you want.

Shelagh can be contacted about bookings or any other information regarding the course as a whole by email or telephone on 01204 385678.


Essential skills and techniques for dealing with appeals - 18/08/14

TRA provides several training workshops to assist with some of the skills and techniques you might need if your work involves dealing with appeals. A number of these workshops are coming up over the next few months as part of our inter-authority programme:

An award of costs against you is unwelcome at the best of times (and especially in these days of limited resources) but they can be avoided through good practice. Our workshop analyses each stage from receipt of an application through to appeal (by written reps, hearing or inquiry), including Committee decisions, and considers what measures can be put in place at each stage to minimise the risks of a successful costs claim again you. It also looks at the circumstances in which you should pursue an application for costs against the other party.

  • Really helpful. More so because of the small group so there was plenty of discussion. Use of case studies very helpful. Jennifer Rehman, Lancaster City Council
  • It was useful having a small group as we could draw on each others' experiences. Martha Savage, Flintshire County Council

Being an Effective Witness is aimed at planning (and other technical) officers who may be called as an expert witness at an Inquiry but who have 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.

  • Lots of useful information provided on both legislation and in relation to the run up, and the day of the inquiry. Georgina Pacey, Runnymede Borough Council
  • "The workshop was very helpful and informative" Andrea Muscroft, Craven District Council.

Writing Effective Reports is full of good practice advice and tips from a very experienced practitioner and will be of particular value to relatively new or less experienced planners who want to sharpen their report-writing skills - whether they are preparing Committee Reports, delegated reports or appeal statements. It encourages participants to think about who they are writing for and the purpose of the report and considers what to leave in and what to cut out. It includes an insight into what Reporters are looking for and the way they currently approach "written subs" cases.

  • Informative, good presentation style and context.  Gave food for thought with good learning points. Thank you.  Morag Ferguson, Western Isles Council
  • The content of the course and experience of David provided an invaluable/unique learning opportunity for planners. This course/lecture would be extremely useful as part of a university module/course. Greg Shaw, Northampton Borough Council

Further information on each of these workshops can be found via the above links.

If you are interested in attending 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.


Training for Town and Parish Councillors at a reduced price for a limited time - 12/08/14

Being the UK’s leading provider of practitioner-presented training for Councillors involved in planning, TRA is able to provide in-house training specifically aimed at Town & Parish Councillors, which we are currently offering at a specially reduced price, for a limited time only.

Many of our District council clients have been keen to organise this kind of training for their Town/Parish Councils with most of them running several repeat sessions. Some feedback from these sessions can be viewed on our website.

The most popular option is our Briefing on Planning for Town and Parish Councils. Aimed at Councillors and Clerks, it is designed to enable participants to make a more effective contribution to the Development Management process. It is a general Planning overview and the main aims of the session are:

  • to familiarise participants with the overall framework of the planning system and where development management fits into this 
  • to explain the basic components of the development management process and where Parish/Town Councils fit in
  • to explain some key concepts of the development management decision-making process, to enable Parish/Town Councils to relate to these effectively
  • generally to clarify the potential for, and the limitation of, Parish/Town Council input.

The workshop has been designed to run over a half-day with flexible timings in a morning, afternoon or evening. Concepts are applied to one or two case studies in order to reinforce key points, and the session is delivered by one of our experienced Councillor presenters.

If you are interested in finding out more about this training (at a reduced price!) then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes directly for a detailed quotation.  Please note that sessions must be booked before the 10th October, 2014, although they can be delivered after that date.  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. 


Develop your DM and Enforcement staff with in-house training - 08/08/14

TRA has extensive experience of delivering in-house training for staff working in a planning role, with more than 220 authorities having taken advantage of this service.

Although we can provide training on a variety of planning topics for different staff groups, sessions looking at the processes involved in Development Management and Enforcement are especially popular.

Workshops we have delivered recently include:

  • South Oxfordshire District Council – Effective enforcement: becoming more proactive and helping to deliver development (a bespoke session)
  • East Hertfordshire Council – Effective validation: good practice for all application types
  • Colchester Borough Council – Planning Enforcement in practice: the core elements in detail
  • Sunderland City Council – Environmental Impact Assessment.

A full list of the workshops that we can provide with regards to Development Management and Enforcement can be viewed on our website.

In-house training provides a unique opportunity for local authorities to provide training matched to their requirements, run at or near their premises, in a systematic and cost-effective (and more environmentally friendly) way. Workshops can be organised for a single authority or for a group of neighbouring authorities joining together; joint sessions have proved particularly useful for smaller authorities or in areas where there is an established local “network”. The latter is particularly useful if you do not have quite enough staff to make an in-house session viable.

Please note that in addition to tailoring our existing workshops, we are also happy to consider developing bespoke sessions to ensure that training meets with an individual client’s needs; so if you have a particular requirement that you don’t see on our website, please feel free to ask.

If you are interested in receiving more information, such as an outline programme for any of our sessions, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes directly.

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.


CIL Examination service - TRA offers an alternative to PINs - 31/07/14

If you are working towards the introduction of the Community Infrastructure Levy in your authority, why not let TRA provide you with a quotation for the Examination?

Unlike Local Plans, CIL Charging Schedules do not need to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. The Government effectively opened up the examination proces through the legislation: s212 of the Planning Act 2008 says that the authority must appoint someone who, in their opinion, is independent of the authority and has appropriate qualifications and experience. Whilst subsequent CLG guidance suggested that a Planning Inspector is likely to fulfill these criteria, going automatically to the Planning Inspectorate is not the only option for authorities. Our expert Examiners are highly experienced consultant Planning Inspectors, enabling TRA to offer a credible alternative.

As an organisation that has provided support for the planning service for many years but which is independent of both local and central government, TRA is ideally placed to provide a prompt, professional and competitively-priced CIL Examination service.

Further information can be found on our website. You can also contact Penny O'Shea to find out more, including likely costs, without obligation.


TRA temporary office move - 30/07/14

To allow our offices to be refurbished we will be temporarily relocating within the next month to another office on the same development. We have appropriate plans in place and are hopeful that any disruption will be kept to a minimum but we just wanted to forewarn our contacts just in case.

At this point, we expect to be moving on the 21st and 22nd August (the Thursday and Friday before the Bank Holiday).  We will keep everyone up-to-date via our website. All our contact details will remain the same - including our postal address and telephone number - so hopefully you won't be able to tell the difference!

However, if you do experience any problems or are concerned that your communication may not be getting through to us please do try to get in touch to check - telephone is likely to be the most reliable method.

We expect to be in our temporary office for 3-5 weeks.


Upcoming training opportunities for Planning Support & Administrative Staff - 29/07/14

TRA has always recognised the valuable role support and administrative staff play in any planning department, and offers a number of training services to help enhance their knowledge and skills and thereby improve the contribution these vital team members can make.

As well as our Planning Admin Network and annual Conference for Planning Support Staff, our interactive one day workshops are also very popular with some excellent feedback from past participants. Listed below are some of the workshops coming up this Autumn which would be of benefit to support and administrative staff in both the public and private sectors:

  • Managing the Planning Customer's Experience (NEW FOR 2014) - London, 23 September 2014
    In an increasingly demanding world - where users expect excellent service at minimum cost - the provision of a quality, customer-oriented planning service can go a long way towards achieving the quality outcomes local authorities are striving for.  This new interactive workshop provides planners and technical/support staff with an understanding of why customer care matters now more than ever and how to deliver good customer service at little or no extra cost in terms of time or money.  It explores what good customer care actually means and why it matters, the importance of listening skills and communicating clearly, handling complaints and understanding and preventing conflict, and concludes with action points for achieving positive outcomes. There are many courses on customer care but the benefit of this one is that it is designed and delivered by a planner who understands the competing demands within local government planning and the sorts of issues participants will be facing on a daily basis.

    "Really good to focus on customer care for planning and hearing experiences from the presenter"
      Lesley Cuthbertson, Argyll and Bute Council
  • Permitted Development - London, 21 October 2014
    This workshop is suitable for all staff (including support staff, technicians, enforcement and planning officers), who have to deal with enquiries about Permitted Development. This ever-relevant and popular workshop looks at how PD works, provides some crucial definitions and help in interpreting and applying the most frequently used classes of permitted development.  Its aim is to help participants develop the knowledge and confidence essential in dealing with this complex aspect of the planning process. The workshop will provide a useful opportunity to look in detail at Householder PD, minor development and other sorts of enquiries; how PD enquiries are handled; how the Prior Notification procedure works and how applications should be processed; and any further proposals from Government to change the PD regime. Crucially, it will provide an opportunity for delegates to ask any questions about PD.

    "Provided very full information and useful handouts. The presenter was very knowledgeable and gave good, clear information, facts and advice"
      Steph Blunt, North Hertfordshire District Council
  • The Basics of Planning - Manchester, 18 November 2014 (and Edinburgh, 6 November 2014)
    This practical workshop is designed as an introduction to the planning process for enforcement, administrative and technical staff in LPAs and support staff working in private practices. As well as providing an introduction to anyone who is new to planning, it will also be relevant for experienced staff who want to set their job in the wider context of development management. The workshop deals with the key elements of plan-making, processing planning, listed building and other applications, and monitoring and enforcement against unauthorised development.  It incorporates group exercises and case studies where appropriate and provides participants with a valuable opportunity to meet and share experiences with colleagues from other authorities and other parts of the planning process.

    "It was very comprehensive and well delivered, easy to follow and very relevant"
      Jill Sampson, Blaby District Council

Further details, including more feedback from previous delegates and booking forms for each event, are available on the TRA website via the above links to the relevant workshop. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away for a workshop you are interested in, provisional bookings are recommended and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

Discounts are available to those booking 2 or more places via our Discounted Block Booking Scheme - further details are also on the website.


Forum on Enforcement - grab your place while you can - 25/07/14

This year's Forum on Enforcement will take place at our Manchester venue on Thursday 2 October. Early booking is particularly brisk and we are expecting it to be a popular programme so we'd suggest reserving your place as soon as possible.

Full details and a booking form can be found on our website.

The day will start with a Legal Update (always a popular session) given by Solicitor David Hainsworth LLB, FRSA, who has worked in both the public and private sectors and over the years has dealt with several hundred planning enforcement cases in various capacities.

There will be three parallel sessions from which you can choose to attend two:

  • Deliberate Concealment - Charles Allingham, Principal Planning Enforcement Officer, Welwyn Hatfield BC.
    Welwyn Hatfield broke new ground when they challenged the Secretary of State's decision on the Beesley case (dwellinghouse built to look like a barn) all the way to the Supreme Court and won. Charles will look at the range of options that the authority are now using for dealing with current cases of deliberate concealment, including invoking the Connor Principle, its effect on the ground (d) appeal and the planning enforcement order.
  • Dealing with Heritage Crime - Ian Marshall, Director, Environment and Heritage Solutions
    What is your Council doing to prevent and deal with heritage crime? How can it make the best use of scarce resources? Is it signed up to ARCH (Association to Reduce Crime against Heritage)?  With his wealth of experience in local government and in co-ordinating a Heritage Crime Partnership, Ian will look at the ways in which you can help to prevent, and when necessary deal effectively with, heritage crime.
  • Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) in practice - Tim Rolt, Planning Enforcement Manager, London Borough of Brent
    Most enforcement practitioners are now familiar with the concept that POCA can be considered, following a successful prosecution, to confiscate the proceeds of a "planning crime". However, practical experience of using the power stills seems to be limited. The Planning Enforcement team in the London Borough of Brent, however, has had quite a lot of success in confiscating the proceeds of the crime and Tim will talk about their processes and experiences.

The final plenary session will be deliverd by Barrister David Armstrong from Mallard consultancy which is a member of the Unique Places Network, an association of acknowledged experts in the management of public sector regulation and the public realm. He is also a consultant and adviser to many public agencies including Keep Britain Tidy, Tidy Northern Irealnd and Keep Wales Tidy and has regularly advised local authorities in many forms of regulation and enforcement. He is therefore well placed to talk about using the recently enacted Anti Social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Act 2014 (many provisions of which also cover Wales) for dealing with common planning nuisance and enforcement problems.

The Forum will be chaired by Mike Hyde, Planning Consultant who delivers training on enforcement for TRA.