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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.


Latest vacancies on Planning Jobs Board - 29/07/15

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

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.


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.


2015 Forum on Enforcement - advance details - 30/06/15

Hot off the press, and just in time for June's ENews, is the line-up for this year's Forum on Enforcement. The detailed leaflet will be available very shortly but in the meantime here are details of the topics and speakers.

The day will begin with a Legal Update provided by Izindi Visagie, founder of Ivy Legal.

There will be three parallel sessions - from which participants can choose to attend two (am and pm):

  • Defining the Planning Unit - Andrew George, Enforcement Officer, South Downs National Park Authority
  • Keeping Planning Permissions Alive - Michael Hyde, MH Planning Associates and TRA Associate
  • Substantial Completion - what does it mean? - Jonathan Short, Planning Enforcement Officer, South Kesteven District Council.

The Forum will conclude with How to Stop Wasting Your Time (Revisited) presented by Vivien Green, Planning Consultant and TRA Senior Associate. A similar session was delivered by Trevor Roberts back in 2006 and Vivien will be providing an updated context for the key message that efficiency and effectiveness are not the same thing.

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

We will post the specific leaflet and booking form on our website asap but if you would like to book now you can do so using our general booking form or block booking form

The Forum will take place in Manchester on 1 October 2015 and the standard cost per place is £190 plus VAT.


New workshop for LPAs dealing with Neighbourhood Plans - 24/06/15

Engaging with Local Communities in Neighbourhood Plan Preparation is a brand new TRA workshop for 2015. 

As neighbourhood planning becomes established as part of the plan-making environment, planning professionals will need to learn to work in different ways and draw on a wider range of skills to perform effectively in a new aspect of their role. They will be expected to provide advice and support to town and parish councils and community groups who are preparing neighbourhood plans (or interested in doing so) and this new training session looks at the range of issues they may be faced with. 

It focuses on: 

  • providing support to groups embarking on the preparation of a neighbourhood plan
  • resolving the traditional isues with which neighbourhood planning groups wrestle
  • establishing a context that will lead to a plan which meets the basic conditions
  • working with groups to ensure the collection of a proportionate evidence base
  • ensuring a proportionate environmental assessment that meets the basic conditions
  • providing assistance in preparing for examination
  • ensuring the full and proper implementation of the eventual plan through the DM process
  • retaining ongoing community engagement through a monitoring and review process. 

Participants will gain an appreciation of what has worked well elsewhere and how best to apply it in their own areas and an understanding of the capacity and investment that will be required to engage effectively with community groups.  Crucially, the workshop has been developed and will be delivered by a practitioner will significant experience of the neighbourhood planning agenda both within a local authority and as an Independent Examiner. 

The event is running in London on 12 November 2015 and places can be booked now. Full details are on our website


Training opportunities for those involved in Planning Enforcement - 18/06/15

TRA has long championed the vital role planning enforcement plays in maintaining an effective planning service across the UK. To this end we offer many training opportunities for local authority staff involved in Enforcement, from the annual Forum on Enforcement to the ever popular Certificated Training Programme for enforcement officers originally developed by TRA in conjunction with the University of Cambridge and, of course, our series of 1 day training workshops for England/Wales and Scotland.

The workshop programme is now entering its Summer Break while we soak up some sunshine (we hope), but will be back in September with a workshop for enforcement staff scheduled to run in both the England/Wales and Scotland Programmes:

  • Current Issues in Planning Enforcement: essential CPD update - Glasgow, 17 September 2015
    This workshop on enforcement is designed for anyone with an interest in planning enforcement; not just enforcement officers, but also development managers, planning officers and legal advisers who may get involved with enforcement issues from time to time. Each year, this unique and practical workshop takes a new look at some aspects of the legislative and policy frameworks as well as focusing on day-to-day enforcement practices and issues. It will provide an update on relevant case law to assist participants in building up their legal knowledge and, as always, an opportunity to discuss matters of general concern and to share working experiences. (As this workshop focuses on a different aspect of enforcement each year, participants can attend more than once as many people have done previously).
  • Enforcement of Listed Building Control - London, 24 September 2015
    This popular workshop will provide a valuable introduction or essential CPD for enforcement officers who investigate and deal with breaches of Listed Building Control and complements our existing workshops on the "Basics" and the "Core Elements" of Planning Enforcement. It is suitable for planning and conservation officers who may get drawn into dealing with breaches of listed building control, managers who may have to authorise taking enforcement action or lawyers who have to draft notices or consider prosecutions. The workshop will look at the legislative framework, the pros and cons of using particular procedures and current best practice. Topics covered during the day will include: what is listed, defining the curtilage, what constitutes a breach of listed building control, investigations and use of statutory notices to obtain information, when to caution, using enforcement tools, appeals, whether to "prosecute (s9 and s43), what has to be proven/statutory defences and the use being made of POCA.  Reference will be made throughout to relevant case law.
    There are now only a few places left on this workshop so prompt booking is recommended if you would like to attend.

Further details and booking forms are available on the TRA website via the above links. If you are interested in attending but unable to make a firm booking straight away, places can be reserved provisionally be telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

Don't forget - discounts of between 10 and 15% are available to those booking 2 or more places at the same time (over any number of events) via our popular Block Booking scheme - details can be found on the TRA website.


'Planning Policy' matters for Fylde Borough Council Members - 18/06/15

In the aftermath of the May elections TRA has been extremely busy delivering ‘introduction’ and ‘refresher’ training to new and re-elected Members.  In addition to the Briefing on Planning and The Role of Councillors in Planning sessions that TRA provided for Fylde Borough Council, we were also commissioned to prepare and deliver an additional session for their members, focusing on Planning Policy

The aim of the workshop was to help Members understand the main issues in planning and how to tackle them through the interpretation and application of policy. It explained the various layers of policy, from the national to the local level. It referred to the National Planning Policy Framework, Local Plans, Neighbourhood Plans, and to the various bodies involved in the formulation of policies. The content was tailored to specific policy issues faced by the Council and reference was made throughout to their existing Local Plan, emerging Local Plan and other policy documents. 

The workshop was developed and delivered by TRA Presenter, Jed Griffiths, and feedback from attendees was extremely positive:

  • Expanded on the knowledge I had so in fact acted as a good refresher; although new information about planning was given.  Christine Akeroyd
  • Very clear and helpful especially with the “new” changes – some of our policies will need updating.  Viv Wilder
  • Very informative and was put over in a nice and chatty way; nice to hear about other regions and their problems/solutions. Angela Jacques

This one-day session is now available to all clients exclusively on an in-house basis; so if you would like to receive more information, such as an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes for a no-obligation quotation.