Latest News

Latest vacancies on TRA Planning Jobs Board - 26/08/15

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

Advertising on our Jobs Board is entirely free to local authorities handling their own recruitment (unfortunately we can't offer it to recruitment agencies). We are keen to include planning roles of all types including those in planning support and planning enforcement.

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 jobsboard@tra-ltd.co.uk. 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.

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 – it could change your life! 

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.


Certificated Programme in Enforcement: 15 more graduates - 24/08/15

Over the last 12 months, a further 15 students have been awarded their certificate after successfully completing TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement. They are:

  • Steven Halls, Norfolk County Council
  • Tim Peachey, States of Guernsey
  • Heather Thornton, West Lindsey District Council
  • Jenny Blower, Adur & Worthing Council
  • Tracey Consterdine, Adur & Worthing Council
  • Zoe Crockett, Amber Valley Borough Council
  • Kirstie May, West Sussex County Council
  • Rosemarie Dannatt, Arun District Council
  • Simon Challis, Lincolnshire County Council
  • Joe Richardson, Wiltshire Council
  • Jonathan Short, South Kesteven District Council
  • Suzanne Armstrong, Essex County Council
  • Leanne Willis, East Lindsey District Council
  • William Walsh, Bedford Borough Council
  • Ann Kirkby, Selby District Council.

Undertaking the certificated course is a significant commitment but the benefits, for both the individual and their organisation, can be considerable. We would like to offer all these students (now graduates!) our congratulations on their hard work and achievements.

They join the long list of students who have been awarded the Certificate since the programme began in 1996 - there are now 160 graduates.

Full details of the certificated course can be found on our website. For any questions regarding the programme please contact Shelagh Pooley by email or phone on 01204 385678.


October workshops in Manchester - 24/08/15

The remainder of the 2015 workshop programme for England and Wales includes a couple of events coming up at the Manchester Meeting Place on 20 October 2015. Places are still available on these workshops although prompt booking is recommended:

Permitted Development (only 4 places left)
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. The workshop will also look at the recent changes to the structure of the GPDO including some important new definitions, and crucially, it will provide an opportunity for delegates to ask any questions about PD.

Being an Effective Witness at Inquiries
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.

Further details and booking forms are available on the TRA website via the above links. Provisional bookings can be made via our online provisional booking facility. As always, discounts of between 10 and 15% are available when booking 2 or more places at the same time over any number of events in the 2015 programme.


Reduced price training for Town & Parish Councillors - 24/08/15

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

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 and is delivered by one of our experienced Councillor presenters.

Some examples of recent participant feedback are as follows:

  • Informative, interesting and useful for the future.  Hazel Hill, Sandhurst Town Council
  • Good content, delivered in an interesting and entertaining way. Well done, I would recommend TRA to others. Paul Bettison, Bracknell Forest Council
  • Excellent, very informative. Sue Warren, Sandhurst Town Council
  • Having been on planning training before it shows how things have changed and the necessity for keeping abreast of these changes.  Paul Byrne, Saddleworth PC
  • Very informative, interesting and very well presented. Thank you! Steve Hewitt, Saddleworth PC

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.  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. 


A Forum on Enforcement 2015 - have you booked your place yet? - 21/08/15

As mentioned in last month's ENews, the details for this year's Forum on Enforcement taking place on 1 October 2015 in Manchester have now been published. The event is booking up well, but there is still time to book your place if you haven't already done so.

Just to remind you, the topics being covered by our panel of speakers include:

  • a Legal Update on recent case law
  • identification of the correct planning unit
  • substantial completion and the consequences of the 'fallback' position
  • what can constitute a material commencement and the tricky issue of conditions precedent
  • Stop Wasting your Time! - deploying limited enforcement resources "on target" to ensure the best possible service is provided.

Further details for the Forum can be found on the TRA website. Bookings can be made using the booking form also available to download from the website. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings are recommended and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

Discounts of between 10 and 15% are available when booking 2 or more places at the same time (over any number of events in the programme). A special block booking form giving further details is available on the website.


Enforcement Update in Scotland - what will this year's workshop be covering? - 21/08/15

The 2015 training programme in Scotland begins its Autumn schedule shortly with three workshops taking place at the Novotel Hotel in Glasgow on 17 September. Two of these workshops, The Use and Abuse of Planning Conditions & Section 75 Obligations and The Language of Urban Design, are brand new for 2015 and are now almost fully booked (just 1 place left on The Language of Urban Design). However there are a few places remaining on the third event:

Current Issues in Planning Enforcement: essential CPD update is unique in that each year it takes a new look at different aspects of the legislative and policy frameworks as well as focusing on day-to-day enforcement practices and issues. As it is different each year, delegates will benefit from attending more than once, as several people have already done.

The main focus this year will be on investigating alleged breaches of planning control and determining in those problematic cases whether there has been development (and if so, how to describe it). Also whether a condition has been breached and if so, the enforcement consequences. There will be discussion and group work on cameo cases covering the issues raised including: curtilage; defining the planning unit; whether intensification can amount to development; different types of conditions and immunity; the “second-bite” provisions and how far they have been stretched; dealing with concealment; and abandonment.

For several years the Scottish Government has been collecting Performance Statistics on “enforcement activities” and the workshop will take a brief look at the recently released 2014/15 figures. There will be an opportunity to discuss how the Government and others might interpret what they say about individual authorities and:

  • whether there is consistency in how Planning Authorities define “a case taken up” and “breach resolved”
  • why some authorities serve very few notices.

Finally, the day will consider (once a breach has been identified) the timing of the decision on whether or not it is expedient to take enforcement action and the scenarios that flow from it.

Further details including a downloadable leaflet/booking form can be found on the TRA website. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings are recommended and can be made by telephone on 01204 385678 or via the online provisional bookings page on the website.


TRA & Carlisle CC support Parish Council with Neighbourhood Plan - 18/08/15

Carlisle City Council recently commissioned TRA to assist them in supporting one of their Parish Councils (Dalston) with a half-day workshop on neighbourhood plan preparation.

The bespoke session was designed specifically to assist in the preparation of the Dalston Neighbourhood Plan following the residents’ survey and the initial consultation responses. Its principal focus was policy formulation, looking at the particular circumstances within the plan area. Using case examples from emerging practice, the workshop examined the issues involved in the preparation of the plan, issues and options, and the drafting of policies. It also included an explanation of the processes and procedures around the environmental assessment of the Plan.

The workshop was developed and delivered by TRA presenter, Andrew Ashcroft, who has experience of Neighbourhood Planning both from within a local authority and as an Independent Examiner.

By all accounts it was a very worthwhile session. Andrew said: "This was a very interesting session to run. It was particularly rewarding to help the parish council move into the policy formulation stage and to understand the Plan area more fully".  Zoe Sutton, the council's Rural Development Officer, who organised the session, said: "Absolutely met my requirements. Focused on the main way forward and helped the planning group to focus on policies. Great – thank you!" Feedback from other particpants was also very positive:

  • Met my expectations. Food for thought and will prompt me to move forward without too many issues. A most enjoyable experience. Chris Drouet, Dalston Neighbourhood Planning Steering Group
  • Did not know what to expect but I found it very interesting and enlightening. Ann Byers, Dalston Parish Council
  • The presenter’s extensive experience and his ability to refer to this at the appropriate times was hugely beneficial.  Garry Legg, Carlisle CC.

Workshops on Neighbourhood Planning can be tailored to local circumstances to ensure that training meets with your specific requirements.  If you would like more information, such as an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes.


September workshops - last chance to book - 29/07/15

The TRA Workshop Programme will recommence shortly following the Summer break and will include three workshops taking place at our London venue, The Wesley on 24 September 2015. One of these, Enforcement of Listed Building Control, is already fully booked, but there are a few places remaining on the other two. Prompt booking is recommended to secure a place if you are interested in attending either of these workshops:

  • The Basics of Planning
    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 and provides participants with a valuable opportunity to meet and share experiences with colleagues from other authorities and other parts of the planning process.
  • Negotiation Skills: the key to achieving planning goals and objectives
    Almost every day, planning, enforcement and other ‘environmental’ staff within local planning authorities engage in some form of negotiation. Often these negotiations, whether 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; and the power and personality dimensions. The workshop combines theories with working references from the experience of participants.

Further details and booking forms can be found on our website via the above links. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight way, provisional bookings can be made to reserve places by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.

Don't forget - bookings of 2 or more places (on these or any of the remaining events in the 2015 programme) will receive a discount of between 10 and 15% depending on the total number of places booked. See our website for further details.


A Forum on Enforcement 2015 - full details now available - 27/07/15

The details for this year's Forum on Enforcement are now available to view on our website. The Forum will take place in Manchester on 1 October 2015.

TRA has always recognised enforcement as a vital and particularly complex part of the planning system and over the years has provided a range of training and education opportunities for those involved in enforcement in both the public and private sectors, with our Enforcement Forum being one of the mainstays of our annual programme.

This year's event will begin as usual with a Legal Update looking at recent case law to be given by Izindi Visagie, Solicitor and founder of Ivy Legal.

The three parallel sessions will each look at a key principle of planning enforcement and will be run before and after lunch giving delegates the opportunity to attend two of the three:

  • Andrew George, Enforcement Officer with South Downs National Park will be exploring the concept of identifying the correct planning unit with reference to real life examples and case law
  • Jonathan Short, Planning Enforcement Officer at South Kesteven District Council will also be using real life examples and case law to look into the issue of substantial completion and the consequences of the 'fallback' position
  • Michael Hyde, Independent Planning Consultant and TRA Associate will be considering what works can constitute a material commencement and the tricky issue of conditions precedent.

The final plenary session will be given by Vivien Green, Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate who will re-visit a session first delivered by Trevor Roberts in 2006 - Stop Wasting Your Time! - to show how it continues to be vital that limited enforcement resources are deployed in a way that ensures the best possible service can be provided.

The Forum will be chaired by Jonathan Cawley, Director of Planning and Cultural Heritage at the Snowdonia National Park Authority.

Further details and a booking form are available on the TRA website. Provisional bookings are recommended if you are unable to send a firm booking straight away, and can be made by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility. Discounts are available via our Block Booking System for those booking 2 or more places at the same time.


Help us spread the word about TRA - 18/07/15

One of the keys to TRA's success and longevity is the solid reputation we have built up over more than 30 years. This reputation is based on the fact that we provide both quality services and value for money and it has grown over time thanks to the many clients who have felt comfortable in recommending us, allowing us to publish their feedback, or simply suggesting that colleagues take a look at what we offer.  "Word of mouth" is extremely important to us.

Naturally, if you are able to recommend TRA from personal experience that is much appreciated. If you attend one of our events, either at an external venue or in-house at your own organisation, and would be happy to share your thoughts about the course with others please do take the time to complete our evaluation slip and provide your name. This enables us to publish feedback that potential participants might find helpful.  

If you spot something on our website that you think might be of interest to a colleague you can use our Email Page function.  You'll find this in the top right hand corner of each page (with a little brown envelope icon). Clicking on this allows you to enter the name and email address of the person you'd like to send the page to and gives you space to write a short message to go with it. They'll receive an email from TRA saying that you have suggested they take a look at that particular page. Simple!

In a similar vein, if you know someone who may find this ENewsletter of interest then please do forward it on. If they like what they see, they can subscribe straight away and receive their own copy in future - there are instructions at the bottom of the newsletter. Alternatively, they can sign-up via our website.

Thanks for your help and we hope to see you at one of our events soon.


Bespoke training series for East Hampshire Councillors - 17/07/15

Following the elections in May, TRA was commissioned to provide a series of training events for East Hampshire Councillors to be delivered over a number of weeks.  The training started off in June with a one-day planning workshop, combining elements of our two most popular Councillor training sessions – A Briefing on Planning and The Role of Councillors in Planning.

The session was delivered by TRA Senior Associate, Jed Griffiths and was well received by attendees:

  • Good balance of working cases and detail on the role of councillors in planning. Robert Mocatta
  • A very good review. Ken Carter
  • Met expectation and more. I am a new Councillor and planning is a new subject for me. The presenter was very clear and was able to demonstrate his knowledge well in a concise way. Ben Bentley
  • Very comprehensive training with a useful case study. James Abdey.

The next two sessions were half-day modules, both of which were delivered by TRA Senior Associate, Lee Prebble; one on Planning Conditions and one on Appeals.

Planning conditions should be seen and used as positive development control tools, to improve, encourage and facilitate permissions which might not otherwise be granted. They require tailored, focused thought and precise definition to secure effective implementation and to prevent unnecessary appeals. This particular workshop was for both experienced and newly elected councillors. It covered the basic elements which need to be considered in every case plus the essential background information needed to consider more complex cases.

The workshop on Appeals provided an overview of the appeal processes, methods and the roles and requirements of the various participants in the different types of appeal. It looked at advice in relation to making a case and what constitutes good and bad evidence and considered the presentation of evidence including advice on giving evidence as a witness. It also looked at the particular requirements in relation to enforcement appeals and highlighted the principles behind the costs regime.

Once again both sessions proved to be successful according to participant feedback:
  
A Briefing for Councillors on Planning Conditions

  • Pitched at a good level for experienced and less experienced Councillors.  Enjoyed the use of case studies.  D. Jackson
  • Very comprehensive and thought provoking. Elaine Tickell
  • Alerted me to some pitfalls when on the planning committee. Excellent as usual. Angela Glass
  • The presenter was precise, engaging and adaptable – 10/10! D. Phillips

A Briefing for Councillors on Planning Appeals

  • Comprehensive and covered procedures. Clarified grey areas. Elaine Tickell
  • Provided a good understanding of an area not previously discussed in detail. Usual high standard. Ken Carter
  • Very detailed session. Malcolm Johnson.

The session on Planning Conditions proved to be particularly popular and as such is expected to be delivered again in September, this time in Havant.  There is still a half-day module on Enforcement to go in the East Hants series, this is also scheduled to run in September.

If you think a training series would be of interest to your Councillors please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes to discuss your requirements. We are able to offer training on various ‘specific aspects’ of planning, some of which are mentioned on our website.


TRA Conference urges Planning Support Staff to up-skill - 07/07/15

TRA's latest Conference for Planning Support Staff took place in London at the end of June and was well attended, with just under 60 delegates from a wide range of local authorities.

Chaired by the effervescent TRA Senior Associate Jed Griffiths, the event focused on the need to adapt and up-skill in a time of frequent change, uncertainty and austerity.

Fellow TRA Senior Associate Vivien Green commenced proceedings with a talk entitled 10 things you should be doing but probably aren't. Based on her research into LPA websites Viv had discovered a considerable number of authorities who were not following legal requirements and her presentation focused on how staff could address any of these shortcomings in their own authorities and improve processes.

The day was then split into two parallel sessions either side of lunchtime:

  • St Helens Enforcement Team Leader Nicola Hamilton offered tips on how best to deal with difficult customers. Enforcement is often seen as the most confrontational of planning services and she passed on her knowledge and experience of some 12 years in the job.
  • Karl Roberts, Director of Planning and Economic Regeneration at Arun DC, spoke about how recent legislative changes to the planning regime had altered planning workloads. Focusing on neighbourhood plans, local development orders, and the delegation of some powers to parish councils, Karl showed how the traditional ways of working for support staff are changing.

To conclude the day, Chris Weetman, TRA Associate and independent consultant, looked at how support services may be provided in times of ever-tightening public purse strings. This included how some authorities are sharing services and how others are looking at creating self-sustaining business units.  Chris implored support staff to up-skill so they could take up the new challenges thrown out by central government in their attempts to reduce public spending by around 20%.

Attendees left with many ideas about the challenges ahead and how they could adapt to them. The feedback was positive:

  • As usual the conference has provided me with useful information that I can take back to the office and put to good use. Listening to others' experiences reminds us that we are not working in isolation and we all have the same issues. Sue Ludwig, Borough of Poole
  • Very informative and eye-opening. Amrith Sehmi, City of London
  • Always informative and great opportunity to see how other councils are dealing with similar issues to our own. Caroline Turner, Borough of Poole
  • Very good and informative as always. There is always something new to learn. Jon Keepen, Mole Valley DC
  • Great location, excellent opportunity for networking. Good variety of speakers. Jennifer John, Charnwood BC.
  • If anything, it exceeded my expectations. I work in policy so I was doubtful how much would be relevant. However, the information sounded very transferable. Tony Crisp, Cherwell DC.

This annual Conference is just one element of TRA's portfolio of training for planning support staff. Other events taking place this year include:

Plus, TRA offers a wide range of in-house training options for planning support staff.


Update on PD Changes and new deemed discharge procedure for North Herts - 06/07/15

TRA was recently commissioned by North Hertfordshire District Council to prepare and deliver a bespoke half-day session on the recent changes to Permitted Development and the new deemed discharge procedure.

The aim of the workshop was to develop and enhance the knowledge of participants in relation to these two areas of planning practice; one of which has undergone some significant changes and the other which is entirely new.

The training was split into two parts; starting with recent changes to PD in the Town and Country Planning (General Permitted Development) Order 2015 and then the deemed discharge of conditions procedure which was introduced in April in the Town and Country Planning (Development Management Procedure) Order 2015.

The Changes to Permitted Development session covered:

  • changes to the structure of the Order, including some important new definitions and the new Article 7
  • some points to note in certain Parts and Classes, including Part 1 Class A, Part 2 Class F, and the new Parts 6, 7 and 14
  • Part 3 Permitted Changes of Use and the prior approval notification procedure including what is required for a valid application, statutory publicity, what impacts can be taken into account and notifying the applicant of the decision.

The session on the new Deemed Discharge Procedure focused on:

  • what constitutes a valid application to deal with an approval required under a condition
  • why the deemed discharge procedure was introduced
  • how the applicant activates the procedure; timing and content
  • which conditions are “exempt” from the procedure
  • how the LPA can respond
  • what happens if the procedure is not invoked.

The workshop was prepared and delivered by TRA Senior Associate, Vivien Green, and feedback from the attendees was positive:

  • Exceeded expectation. Promoted discussion, thoughts and the need to re-assess our procedures.  Mary Caldwell
  • From a Conservation Officer’s perspective this was very informative and very useful to have an insight into the world of prior approvals/notifications. Mark Simmons
  • Very comprehensive and informative. Thank you for an excellent presentation which helped to clarify a lot of issues.  Joanne Cousins
  • Provided a good overview of the recent changes and the implications following the changes. Christopher Braybrooke
  • It was a very comprehensive seminar. Great for ironing out some kinks and refocusing individuals on updated practices and procedures. Nurainatta Katevu
  • Extremely informative. Clear presentation for us ‘non-planners’; we will now review some of our procedures in light of this training. Value for money in that every member of staff was engaged during the morning. Jenny Donovan.

This session is now available to all clients on an in-house basis, so if you would like more information please contact Angela Holmes directly who would be pleased to provide you with a detailed quotation.