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Post election training for Councillors: A final reminder before Election Day! - 14/04/14

"The LGA endorses the good practice of many councils which ensures that their members receive training on the planning process when first serving on the planning committee. It also recommends that members be updated regularly on changes to legislation or procedures. Such training is essential for those members involved in making decisions on planning applications and on local development documents. Authorities should provide training on the planning processes for all members.” Local Government Association, Probity in Planning.

For some authorities local Council elections are fast approaching.  We would like to remind those of you who are considering providing planning training in the coming months about the importance of booking early; this will ensure that your Councillors don’t miss out on one of our extremely popular in-house training sessions.

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:

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.

Below you can see some participant feedback from previous Councillor in-house workshops:

  • As a new Councillor I thought this was an excellent introduction to the Role of Councillors in Planning. It addressed not only issues and good practice associated with the Councillor’s role but by necessity addressing and commenting on key aspects of the planning system.  Commentary on changes introduced by the new Localism legislation was particularly welcome. Cllr Gregory Harlock, Huntingdonshire District Council
  • The whole thing was professionally delivered as usual – the right balance of humour and realism.  Still brings home the fact that no matter how often I preach, information delivered by external trainers delivers the ‘light bulb’ moment. Fiona Edwards, Cheshire West and Chester Council
  • Exceeded expectations, mostly due to the knowledge of the presenters and the methods used which made the delegates work together effectively.  Stephen Haroldson, Copeland Borough Council
  • Have attended the last two TRA sessions (over two years) but there is always something new to learn, so even though I have been a Councillor for three years I like to attend for updates.  Cllr Julie Bell, St Albans District Council
  • More than met my expectations and should be made compulsory for all Councillors. All Councillors would benefit from this training – it would help them understand the reasons behind decisions. Cllr Angela Glass. East Hampshire District Council
  • Excelled expectations – well done!  Well presented, easy delivery.  Both presenters were lively and obviously knowledgeable. Nigel Taylor, Mendip District Council.

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 notice to arrange Councillor training but will aim to accommodate clients wherever possible thanks to our large team of experienced presenters. Please note that demand is very high in the period immediately after the elections and therefore we would highly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to fix your date.  A number of authorities have already avoided the rush and booked their training days – so don’t leave it until the last minute, contact us today!

To see an outline programme without obligation, or to arrange a booking please contact Angela Holmes.


30th Anniversary: Trevor Roberts reflects on three decades of TRA - 14/04/14

In May 1984, at the age of 40, I gave up my job as Director of Housing with Ipswich BC and set up TRA on a freelance basis, moving to Bolton in the process for various family reasons. So I found myself with no source of income, a wife with no job, two young children, and enough money to allow us to pay the mortgage and survive for about six months with care - after that our high dive would look decidedly unwise.

Survival was paramount. Initially I advertised a market stall of services based on housing management,  planning, and a new venture - management training for local government.  As a local government employee, I had not been able to get "clients" in advance, so was starting from scratch.

My first couple of years involved an amazing variety of jobs small and large.  I set up some management training workshops  myself in Bolton ("nearer than you think" was a catchphrase for a time), ran a sixth form conference on housing for Three Rivers DC, trained sales staff for a company marketing alarm systems to local government, advised a betting shop chain on how to handle involvement in urban renewal schemes, taught monthly on a new course in housing studies at Birmingham Polytechnic (now BCU), did a major housing organisation and management review for the London Borough of Greenwich, and undertook various management training assignments in Hackney, Test Valley, Middlesbrough, Cheshire and Cambridgeshire. 

The bit of my market stall which took off most was in-house management training. By 1988, TRA was still just me, based at home but working away during the week for local authorities all over England and a few in Scotland (thanks to a link with the Planning Exchange), and running management workshops set up, promoted and sold directly myself in a range of venues. Working at full capacity (supported by a part time administrator, Sylvia Ashcroft, who stayed with TRA until 2000), the only way to expand appeared to be to take on staff. Instead, the model chosen was to expand into training more generally, working through contracted "associates" -  trusted personal contacts who could work  independently and reliably. This was how TRA developed between 1987 and about 1996, when the current mixture of in-house training and workshops was established (including the unique connection with Cambridge University as a base for training for planning staff).  Also during this time I set up the pioneering RTPI North West Update series of training events, which combined TRA's commercial expertise in event management with the continuous professional development aspirations of the RTPI. 

I had been on the RTPI Council since 1978 and in 1996 decided to run for President.  This prompted changes to allow TRA to run much more independently of myself - a move away from my house to an office base in central Bolton, appointment of a key central co-ordinator, Penny O'Shea (now Principal Director),  and expansion of the Associates team. Consequently when I was RTPI President in 1998-99, the business carried on smoothly despite my heavy presidential commitments.  This model of a strong centre co-ordinating and supporting a diverse team of independent associates and presenters has proved very resilient.

From 2000, TRA expanded its training activities significantly, and developed a new strand of work - consultancy on the organisation of planning, especially development control/management, linked to a unique online procedure manual system.  Although the reliance on independent associates continued, TRA employed some professional staff directly for the first time, including Stewart Glassar who is still with TRA. I gradually handed over running of the business to Penny while spending most of my time "on the road" doing training and consultancy assignments all over the country.
 
In 2007 I gave two years’ notice that I would retire in 2009, worked flat out until June of that year and then - much to everyone's amazement - bowed out completely from any direct involvement (the majority of the business is still owned by my family).  Apart from family commitments, I have devoted retirement to chairing the Brathay Exploration Group (an organisation which runs expeditions for young people in the UK and abroad) through an especially tough patch; and pushing through a massive Village Hall revitalisation scheme in Threlkeld where I live (see http://threlkeldvillagehall.org).  My planning and business experience has proved vital in both roles. Also important has been learning Italian - in Italy.

Meanwhile TRA has continued under Penny's leadership. Systematic business planning has always been a feature of TRA, so the recession was anticipated (though not its scale and impact) and some steps were taken to retrench on activities before I retired. However, the last five years have been tough, with the general recession accompanied by massive uncertainty in the planning/local government scene. The flexible organisation model coupled with lack of debt, tight control of overheads, and developing new types of business has enabled TRA to survive while many of our competitors have not. Managing a business in times of expansion is difficult, but keeping it going through a period of downturn and uncertainty is much harder. I am therefore grateful to all those involved who have achieved this.

I had a great time with TRA, worked with stimulating and interesting people who all became friends, met hundreds of people (most of whom I remember). I am pleased that after 30 years it continues on much the same basis as it started: professional, high quality, personal and efficient. 


North Hertfordshire Planners keen to improve customer care - 03/04/14

In an increasingly demanding world where users expect a quality service at minimum cost, the provision of a quality customer-orientated service can go a long way to achieving the quality outcomes that an Authority strives to achieve. Whether as part of the Local Plan process or the Development Management process – understanding who your customers are and how their needs might be met is an often overlooked element of the job.

It is with this in mind that North Hertfordshire District Council recently commissioned TRA to deliver an in-house session for their staff on Managing the Planning Customer’s Experience.

This one-day interactive workshop was delivered by TRA presenter, Chris Weetman; providing planners with an understanding of why customer care matters more than ever before, and how to deliver good customer care at little or no extra cost in terms of time and money.

Feedback from the participants was particularly encouraging:

  • The course covered a lot of information. The presenter was clear, had good examples and knew exactly what he was talking about.  Kerry Andrews.
  • The workshop met expectations – it has given ‘food for thought’ as to how we make use of the content and move forward e.g. what other training is needed, and identifying areas which need to be improved.  A great deal of information to digest and reflect on.  Good examples used and will be remembered.  Mary Caldwell.
  • Interactive sessions were useful and timely – not too intimidating! Supplying handouts, with copies of the slides at the end, is a good idea.  Clare Skeeb.
  • Thorough examination of customer service from a planning perspective, covering all aspects.  Useful for all staff who attended.  Jenny Donovan, Technical Support Manager.

If you are interested in the possibility of running this workshop on an in-house basis, or you would like more information, such as an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes directly.

Please note: this workshop has also been included in the main TRA inter-authority programme for 2014 and is scheduled to run in London on 23rd September; see the full details here.


Workshop on Viability proves increasingly popular - 31/03/14

The planning system increasingly requires the incorporation of tests of viability across a range of policy and development management areas. TRA’s popular workshop ‘Understanding Viability: key concepts in Development Economics for Planners’ is aimed at all planning and development professionals from both the public and private sectors, whose work involves delivering effective plans and policies or the negotiation of development contributions in a planning agreement.

Already this year, the workshop has been delivered in-house for four authorities (Test Valley, Newport, Canterbury and the Isle of Man) by TRA presenter, Simon Rowberry; and feedback from those sessions was excellent (see below).

Specific objectives of the workshop are to:

  • assist understanding of how the commercial sector carries out appraisal of proposed development
  • equip participants with basic skills associated with project assessment and evaluation
  • develop an awareness of the impact of planning considerations on development schemes and their commercial return
  • appreciate the language and concepts of property development to ensure that there can be mutual understanding in negotiations with the various stakeholders
  • develop participants’ confidence in working on viability issues in an informed and effective way.

Participant comments:

  • Met expectations – and more.  Gave a great overview on how commercial outfits may carry out an appraisal of proposed development and in turn how this can be impacted by planning decisions.  Training has allowed me to have a basic skill to be able to prepare for such appraisals and question if better understanding is required.  Pip Williams, Test Valley.
  • Very much met expectation.  I feel I have the basic tools to understand viability assessments and where to look for the ‘hidden costs’.  Natasha Ireland, South and Vale (Test Valley session).
  • Topics covered a wide range of up-to-date data.  Very informal, allowing questions all the way through and very informed answers given.  The speaker was very knowledgeable on the subject.  Paul Marshall, Newport.
  • The presenter was very good at pitching the presentation at both officers and members.  He was also asked to depart slightly from the original agreed agenda in order to provide a more bespoke training event which dealt with Newport’s particular issues; the presenter was amenable to this and it was much appreciated. Tracey Brooks, Newport.
  • Very informative and thoughtful advice for future negotiation.  Thank you.  Alison Gravett, Canterbury City Council.
  • Very useful information was discussed and case studies were helpful to put the information discussed into practice.  Steve Musk, Canterbury City Council.
  • Informative, engaging, practical and practically applicable. The presenter was enthusiastic and engaging throughout. Ed Riley, Isle of Man Government.
  • Better than I expected.  I understood more than I thought I would, which was due to the clarity of how Simon presented it. Very much enjoyed the day. Jennifer Chance, Isle of Man Government.

If you are interested in running an in-house session on Understanding Viability and would like to receive more information, please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes, who will be more than happy to provide you with a no obligation quotation.

Please note that this workshop is also running in our 2014 inter-authority programme in Manchester.


Help us spread the word about TRA - 26/03/14

2014 is TRA's 30th anniversary year and one of the keys to our success and longevity is the solid reputation we have built up. 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 extermely important to us.

Naturally, if you are able to recommend TRA from personal experience that is much appreciated. So 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.  

But even if you haven't yet tried out our services for yourself but can see that they may be of interest to people you know, then there are still ways in which you can help spread the word:

  • If you spot something on our website that you'd like to pass on 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.


New Format for 2014 Conference for Planning Support Staff - 25/03/14

Details for the 2014 Conference for Planning Support Staff have now been finalised and are available to view on the TRA website. The conference will take place on 19 June 2014 at The Wesley in London.

TRA have been organising this event annually since 1990, and it represents a unique and extremely valuable opportunity for those involved in planning support to meet with colleagues from other authorities, and learn about current best practice and future developments affecting planning. 

We have decided to change the format slightly for this year's Conference and more time will be devoted to the two parallel workshop sessions which enable participants to discuss topics in more detail and exchange ideas and experiences: something we know they find particularly useful. Once again the Conference aims to reflect the changing nature of the work of support staff in this particularly crucial period of uncertainty and challenges. Contributors and the topics they will be addressing include:

  • VIVIEN GREEN, Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate
    Vivien will examine some key changes to secondary legislation from April 2014 which have implications for the work of support staff, and will also look at the recently unveiled NPPG and what this means for support staff
  • LEE PREBBLE, Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate
    Lee will explore the art of customer care, looking at what customers now expect and the ways in which LPAs - and support staff in particular - can best address these expectations, The session will offer practical solutions and ideas which participants will be able to use immediately
  • SIMON ROWBERRY, Interim Head of Planning & Building Control at St Albans City and District Council
    Simon will look at how St Albans Council has transformed the work of its support and technical staff and the steps they and other councils will need to take in the face of forthcoming challenges and opportunities.

As in recent years, the conference is being run in association with the Planning Admin Network (PAN), a free online network open to anyone with an interest in the administration of the planning service in England, Wales and Scotland. Membership of PAN is absolutely free and registration is quick and easy via the PAN website. A discounted price of £170 for the conference is available to PAN members (normal event price £185), and further discounts are available to all via our discounted block booking scheme for those booking 2 or more places (over any number of events) at the same time.

Bookings are now invited and can be made using the booking form available on the website (or the block booking form for 2 or more places). 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 booking facility. 


CIL Exams - TRA offers alternative to the Inspectorate - 20/03/14

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.


Councillor training team in action in Mendip - 17/03/14

In November 2013, Mendip District Council commissioned TRA to prepare and deliver a series of three training workshops over several months.  The training was specifically for the benefit of their Councillors; they began with our popular one-day workshop A Briefing on Planning and followed on with Planning Appeals and then Planning Obligations and Conditions.

The final session has now been delivered and the feedback from Councillors overall was extremely positive:

A Briefing on Planning – delivered by Jed Griffiths and Peter Lerner

  • Exceeded expectations by a large margin!  I stayed wide awake all through!  Peter Bradshaw
  • Very good and very practical.  David Stevens
  • As a member of the Planning Board it was very helpful. Daniel Unwin
  • Most enjoyable and informative.  Nigel Hewitt-Cooper
  • Excelled expectations – well done!  Well presented, easy delivery.  Both presenters were lively and obviously knowledgeable.  Nigel Taylor.

Planning Appeals: the Councillors dimension – delivered by David Kaiserman

  • Most certainly met my expectations.  What a splendid company with consecutively excellent presenters.  Nigel Woollcombe-Adams
  • Yes, met my expectations. Very good.  Thank you! Daniel Unwin
  • Fully met with my expectations.  Brilliant! Peter Bradshaw
  • Very interesting and thought provoking.  Nigel Hewitt-Cooper
  • Very informative.  Nick Cottle
  • An excellent presentation.  David Stevens.

Planning Obligations and Conditions – delivered by Lee Prebble

  • Very interesting.  Nick Cottle
  • Excellent presentation, understanding conditions particularly. Peter Bradshaw
  • Met my expectations, and more.  Val Horler
  • This talk should be given within 6 months of becoming a District Councillor. Edward Drewe
  • Another very high standard presentation from this company.  Nigel Woollcombe-Adams.

If your authority is interested in running a series of several workshops, as above, or if you have any particular bespoke training requirements for your Councillors, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes directly for a no commitment discussion.

Remember, the prices we quote are ‘all-inclusive’ and therefore include all of our fees, presenter’s expenses and pre-course/course material; so you are aware from the outset what you can expect to pay at invoicing stage.
 


More brand new workshops for the 2014 programme - 14/03/14

In addition to the new workshops featured in February's Enews - covering Operational Development and Permitted Development, Basic Tree Hazard Assessment and TPOs and Securing Good Design within the NPPF, there are yet more workshops newly developed for the 2014 programme, coming up in June:

Managing the Planning Customer's Experience - Glasgow, 3 June 2014 (and 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 one-day 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.  The workshop is delivered by Chris Weetman, a planning consultant and former local authority Development Services Manager with considerable experience of improving service structure/delivery within local authorities.

Writing Effective Reports - London, 5 June 2014 (and Edinburgh, 6 November 2014)
With resources being so stretched, is it possible to produce short and focused planning reports that will nevertheless stand up to scrutiny by Councillors, Planning Inspectors/Reporters and the public? This interactive workshop is full of tips from a very experienced practitioner and will be of particular value to relatively new or less experienced planners. It begins with a recap of material considerations and the weight to be given to them, before exploring in detail what makes a good Committee Report (or appeal statement) including thinking about who we are writing for and the purpose of the report, and striking the balance between what to leave in and what to cut out.  This workshop is delivered by David Kaiserman, formerly a consultant Planning Inspector and Acting Director of Planning and Envirnmental Health where he took a leading role in aspects including plan preparation and appeals.

Bookings can be made using the booking forms available on the TRA website via the above links. Provisional bookings are recommended if you are unable to make a firm booking straight away and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.


New workshops to kick off the 2014 Programme in Scotland - 25/02/14

As mentioned in last month's Enews, our new training workshop programmes for 2014 are currently being circulated to our mailing contacts. Please get in touch if you would like a copy of our 2014 brochure. If you are not on our mailing list, but would like to receive regular email updates on forthcoming training events, you can sign up here.

This year's Scotland programme will begin on 13 May with 2 newly developed workshops to be held at our venue in Edinburgh:

Operational Development and Permitted Development
This workshop is suitable for all staff (technicians, enforcement and planning officers) who deal with enquiries about "Do I need permission?" or "Will I have to make a planning application?"  This year, we have expanded our ever-relevant and popular workshop on Permitted Development to look that bit wider at some of the issues related to Operational Development. These will include: what constitutes building and other operations; exclusions from the definition; when operational development is "substantially completed"; and dealing with the "fall-back" position. The workshop will also look at how PD works, highlight some crucial definitions, and offer help in interpreting and applying the most frequently used classes of PD. Its aim is to help participants develop the knowledge and confidence essential in dealing with these complex aspects of the planning process.  The workshop will provide a useful opportunity to look in detail at Householder PD, minor development and changes to the PD regime. Crucially, it will provide an opportunity for delegates to ask any questions about PD.

Basic Tree Hazard Assessment and Tree Preservation Orders
Many Councils are now without specific tree officer resources, leaving planning departments with a skills shortage in terms of tree assessment, consultations on new planning applications and management for TPOs. This brand new workshop has been developed to provide visual inspection training at a basic level 1 for staff from a non-arboricultural background. It aims to help participants identify obvious defects from ground level so they can report their findings and help determine the suitability of trees for a new TPO or whether works requested are suitable for their species and/or condition. Using a variety of techniques, including a site visit, the workshop considers the legal and safety implications of hazardous trees; how to recognise hazardous trees, determine the level of risk and decide on an appropriate course of action; and the importance of collecting and maintaining adequate information. The criteria for the serving of a new TPO will be explained and participants will gain a basic understanding of BS3998:2010 “Treework - Recommendations”.  They will also be encouraged to recognise their own limitations and maintain their own health and safety when carrying out visual inspections.

Bookings are now being taken and can be made using the booking forms available on the TRA website via the above links to the individual workshop details. If you are unable to make a firm booking(s) straight away, provisional bookings to reserve places are recommended and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

Don't forget, discounts of between 10 and 15% are still available under our Discounted Block Booking Scheme, when booking just 2 or more please over any number of events in the 2014 programme. Many authorities have taken advantage of the scheme over recent years to gain even better value for money. Booking 4 or more places this year will still mean that you will be paying less per workshop then in 2010! A special block booking form giving further details can be downloaded from the TRA website, where you will also find details of all the other workshops in this year's programme.


No job too far for TRA's training team - 21/02/14

Recently two of TRA’s presenters have travelled to separate ends of the country to deliver bespoke training sessions: one up in the Scottish Highlands and another down in (an unusually) wet and windy Guernsey!

The training workshop at Highland Council was for the benefit of planning officers, using the NEW ‘mix and match’ approach which has been exclusively developed for Scottish authorities by TRA presenter, Mike Hyde; the idea is to increase the cost-effectiveness of in-house training by enabling two topics to be covered in the same day. This particular one-day workshop delivered by Mike covered conditions, Section 75s obligations and development monitoring. The first part of the workshop examined the use of conditions and planning obligations with reference to Circulars 4/1998 and 3/2012, highlighting examples of both good and bad practice.  It also looked at the procedures relating to applications to vary/discharge conditions and obligations.  The second part of the training looked at the monitoring of conditions, particularly following the introduction in 2009 of the Notification of Initiation and Completion of Development provisions.

The main aim of the training was to give participants an understanding of when and where conditions should be used and the consequences of their imposition on the implementation of development.  Feedback from the participants was very encouraging:

  • Well delivered training by an experienced and knowledgeable presenter.
  • Good to have discussions/participation.  Useful to have handouts of the slides – makes a good set of notes.
  • Very well presented by an experienced presenter who is able to discuss at length the subject matter. Very worthwhile.
  • I found the course very useful and appreciated the practical examples set against the presenters DM background.

The training delivered at the States of Guernsey was aimed at planners and Legal Officers of the Crown.  It was developed and delivered by TRA presenter, Vivien Green, and involved two half-day sessions on consecutive days.

The session for Legal Officers covered Compliance Notices and looked at: the legal framework for use of the compliance notice and related enforcement tools; time limits for taking enforcement action; the elements of the compliance notice and dealing with the grounds of appeal; the practical issues in drafting and securing compliance with notices; and issues related to whether to prosecute for non-compliance, including who to prosecute and whether it would be in the public interest.

The session for planners focused on Planning Conditions, in particular: the tests that need to be applied to the use of conditions if they are to be legally watertight and enforceable; examples of good and bad practice in drafting of conditions; the benefits of using model conditions; some of the different types of conditions (including the use of pre-commencement conditions); and securing compliance with conditions.

Once again participant feedback following the training was very complimentary:

  • Good knowledge based on various jurisdictions and lots of experience meant that answers to questions were extremely practical and focused.
  • Once again very informative with some great points to take away and if implemented will improve the Department’s effectiveness.
  • Highlighted particular aspects where the drafting of the compliance notice can be improved which should hopefully increase the likelihood  of undertaking a successful prosecution.
  • Has given me a greater perspective of the on-going monitoring of conditions and how conditions can ultimately be enforced.
  • Very useful to look at examples and apply tests. Also raised an awareness of the inadequacies of some of the conditions in general use.

If your authority has any particular training requirements and would like to organise a session that covers specific topics, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with Angela Holmes to discuss the options available.


Design in the context of the NPPF - brand new workshop for 2014 - 21/02/14

Design workshops have always proved popular in our workshop programmes and we are introducing a brand new one for 2014 - Securing Good Design within the NPPF.

Design clearly remains a priority for the current goverment, in terms of both decision-making and policy-making. The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) devotes almost two pages to design and the important benefits that good quality design and robust policies can bring. However, it is challenging enough for LPAs to encourage development at the moment, especially without compromising on the quality of design. At the same time, the level of advice that used to be available to planners, through CABE and supporting guidance, has been greatly reduced.

Although the challenges for authorities have changed, the principles of good design have not. This new workshop will help participants understand the basics of good design, within the context of the NPPF, so that they know what they should be looking to achieve in terms of design and, crucially, how best to achieve it. The skills gained will help when negotiating with applicants, agents and developers; when explaining design issues to councillors and the public; and when defending decisions at appeal and proposed policies at Local Plan exams.

The workshop is delivered by an experienced urban designer, Timothy Crawshaw, and is aimed at development management, planning policy and design officers. It will take place on 5 June at our London venue. A leaflet and booking form can be downloaded from our website. Provisional bookings can be made using our online provisional booking facility. 


Certificated Enforcement course: you need to reserve your place early! - 20/02/14

After 17 years, with more than 400 students taking part and 145 graduates having been awarded the certificate so far, TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement is still going strong. In fact most of the modules are provisionally fully-booked well in advance so it's really important to let us know in good time if you would like to attend any of the modules. There are only 12 places on each module.

Here's the state of play on the next couple of modules:

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


Reminder: Post-election training for Councillors involved in planning - 18/02/14

With local elections fast approaching, your authority may well be thinking about the options for providing training in the planning system for your Councillors and considering approaching TRA.  If so, it is worth noting that dates are already starting to get booked up, although with our large team of experienced presenters we shouldn’t have a problem accommodating dates at this stage. However, if you have a preferred date(s) we would certainly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

As market leaders, TRA has trained Councillors in more than 220 authorities across 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:

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.

The Training for Councillors section of our website provides further information and answers the most frequently asked questions. If you are interested in the possibility of arranging a training session and would like any additional information, such as an outline programme, please feel free to contact Angela Holmes.


Bespoke conference developed for Welsh authorities - 14/02/14

Following receipt of some grant funding, Newport City Council recently commissioned TRA to develop and deliver a bespoke planning conference aimed at elected Members, Community Councillors and Planning Agents from Newport and adjoining authorities.

The conference was held over one day and was a ‘free to attend’ event covering the enforcement and appeals process, Section 106 and CIL, affordable housing and new permitted development rights in Wales.  

The session was prepared and delivered by two TRA presenters, Vivien Green and Lee Prebble.  On the day, around 40 people attended and the feedback was excellent:

  • This was a very informative day and would be of use to all Community Councillors.
  • A wide range of topics covered.  Well explained when answering questions.
  • Good overall course. Plenty of opportunity to ask questions.
  • Excellent, reinforced my own knowledge on a number of issues and provided a clear insight into others, particularly Permitted Development. 
  • Very informative and rewarding.   Clearly showed that planning is a mine field. Thank you for the invite!
  • A good review of the planning service.  Very informative.

TRA are always willing to consider designing bespoke in-house training sessions that are tailored to an individual client’s requirements. In times such as these where budgets are tight and training has to be focused on where it is needed most, providing joint training can really prove to be an enormous benefit and many of our clients are now taking this approach.

Organising joint training events with neighbouring authorities or as part of a County Group not only maximises the cost effectiveness of the training but it also gives participants the opportunity to ‘network’ and share experiences with their colleagues from other local authorities.

If you would like more information on running an in-house training event whether it be on a bespoke basis as above, or one of our more ‘standard’ workshops, please contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.