Season's Greetings - 11/12/13
Bespoke workshop on managing expectations and dealing with complainants - 02/12/13
In the potentially confrontational atmosphere that exists around planning and heritage issues, understanding how so called ‘soft’ interpersonal skills can make a bad situation better is not to be underestimated. It doesn’t matter how long you have been in planning, the chances are you will have been involved in some form of disagreement over planning issues at some point; whether with developers, their agents, the public or even elected members. Whilst the nature of the disagreement itself may be different, there will always be common factors that can be handled with a range of common skills and techniques.
With this in mind, Hastings Borough Council recently commissioned TRA to develop a bespoke two-day course for officers entitled Managing Public Expectations and Dealing with Complainants.
The workshop was prepared and delivered by TRA presenter, Chris Weetman. It looked at a number of common expectations that LPAs come up against and showed how, by breaking them down, participants could gain a better understanding of the issues they are really dealing with. The training focused on improving a range of skills to help participants deal with these difficult situations better and hopefully provide better outcomes.
- understanding your role as a service provider
- where expectations come from
- why people say what they do- what do they really mean?
- listening and communication skills
- dealing with conflict – the skills and qualities needed
- the role of the public and pressure groups in the decision making process
- understanding the role of the Councillor
- handling criticism from third parties
- how to achieve a positive outcome.
The feedback from course participants was very positive:
- The course did meet my expectations. The majority of the session was common sense that needed to be reminded. Useful to look at things from an agents/public view. Lesley Curd
- The presenter was knowledgeable, interactive and gave a range of case studies. Used examples of current issues and past issues from his experiences and gave a perspective from several view points. Calum Rouley
- I have found the course very useful in dealing with people in all aspects of work and home life. Sally Simpson
- Very good content on both days. Very knowledgeable presenter. I feel I have gained from the course. Kim West
- Covered a range of relevant issues and included engaging exercises that backed up the contents of the talks. Matthew Wardley
- The training exceeded my expectations, as I found it very useful to see things from a perspective other than ‘pro-council’. Much training delivers content from a ‘perfect’ world view, which as we know is not always the case, and authorities do not always act in a perfect manner. Very useful – many thanks! Toby Balcikonis
This two-day workshop is now available to all clients and can be delivered either on consecutive days or with a short break in-between. If you would like more information on this training course, including a copy of an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes to receive a no-obligation quotation.
A viable alternative for your CIL Exam? - 26/11/13
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 other Development Plan Documents, CIL Charging Schedules do not need to be submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination. The Government effectively opened up the examination process 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 fulfil these criteria, going straight to the Inspectorate is not the only choice open to authorities. We believe that TRA offers a viable alternative (no pun intended).
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.
Certificated Enforcement course: modules on Adverts and Material Change of Use coming up - 22/11/13
Modules in the sought-after Certificated Training Programme in Planning Enforcement run three times during the year: roughly speaking in Spring, Summer and Autumn.
The next opportunities to attend are Planning enforcement and advertisement control in January & March 2014 (don't wait too long to book..) and Planning enforcement and material change of use in April & June 2014.
Both modules will take place at Madingley Hall in Cambridge - see the above links for exact dates and more information on the scope/coverage of each module.
The modules are part of a programme which leads to the award of the Certificate in Planning Enforcement for those who successfully complete 4 out of the 5 modules available; more than 140 students have been awarded the certificate so far. We are also pleased to have students attend individual modules on a one-off basis on a topic of particular relevance to them.
For each module, students are required to attend two two-day Tutorial Sessions and complete project work based on their own work situation. Because of this, a certain level of commitment is required but ultimately the student will gain a systematic framework for their job, and invaluable knowledge and skills which can make real improvements to their day-to-day work and also their own professional development. Feedback from previous students has been extremely positive in terms of the benefits both to themselves as individuals, and also the improvements to their authority’s enforcement function as a result of information they have been able to take back with them. Some comments from previous students.....
Planning enforcement and advertisement control
- This course will have a lasting impact. Not only have I gained considerably from the experience but the notes and assignments will provide a lasting reference for the entire enforcement team enabling us all to perform better. Rosemarie Dannatt, Arun DC.
- The advert regulations are very complex. The module has shown me how to work through the regs and apply the correct classes. Rajinder Lalli, Warwick DC.
- I will have the confidence to prepare a case for prosecution and hope it would be successful. Kerry McCartney, Allerdale DC.
- Through increased knowledge of the planning system as a whole, I am now aware that adverts can be effectively dealt with which has made my job a lot easier. Gemma Manthorpe, Great Yarnouth BC.
Planning enforcement and material change of use
- MATERIAL – never has a word had so many meanings to so many people, and after this course, how few of them were right! William Walsh, Bedford BC
- Being able to apply what I have learnt on this module in the future will make the job much easier. Ryan Dodd, East Lindsey DC
- Material change of use is a concept I deal with daily and I will be able to be confident in my ability and sure of my actions. Andrew Dudley, Melton BC
- Invaluable module to attend at the beginning of your role as a Planning Enforcement officer, so you know what to look for in assessing whether a material change of use has taken place. Susan Francis, St Edmundsbury Borough Council
If you would like to reserve a place on either module, a booking form is available to download from our website. Alternatively places can be reserved provisionally for a limited time via the online provisional booking facility, or by telephoning 01204 385678.
New workshop on Customer Care in planning - 19/11/13
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. Unfortunately, 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 element of the job that is often overlooked.
Traditionally, many authorities have either taken little account of their customers’ needs or gone too far in acceding to their demands. The goal is to find that ideal centre position where the customer’s reasonable expectations are met - but it can be difficult.
This new one-day interactive workshop, being introduced for 2014, 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. Through a combination of presentations and practical exercises, Managing the Planning Customer's Experience 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 ends with action points for achieving positive outcomes.
There are lots of courses out there on customer care but the benefit of this new TRA workshop 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 presented by Chris Weetman.
Although the workshop is new to our inter-authority programme, it has already been delivered on an in-house basis:
- Good to be told about how to communicate clearly as a planner and to think about the consequences of getting it right or wrong. Good to have a planner who understands the issues delivering the training. Helen Winsall, Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC
- Very enlightening, thought provoking and interesting. Allan Leah, Cheshire East Council.
- This was/is a useful course in that it was a solid reminder of the basics that tend to get lost in the course of everyday working. Kept the subject fresh! G Davies, Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC
- Very enjoyable and helped me to understand why customer service is important and how I can contribute to the customer experience. Rob Christ, Rhondda Cynon Taf CBC
Our 2014 programmes are still being finalised but the workshop will run in Glasgow (likely to be June) and in London (likely to be September). Keep an eye on our website for confirmation of the dates or email Shelagh Pooley if you would like to receive details once they are available.
TRA can help you prepare for Development Plan Examinations - 11/11/13
If, at some stage your authority is looking at submitting development plan documents to the Planning Inspectorate for examination, you might want to learn more about our in-house training workshop that focuses specifically on the examination.
TRA has successfully delivered in-house training on Appearing at Development Plan (DPD) Examinations since 2007 for authorities across England, Wales and Scotland. Our most recent session was delivered at Cherwell District Council, where excellent feedback was received:
- All thought it was very worthwhile and helpful and we all took some new information away with us. Our thanks to the presenters who certainly have helped people feel a bit more familiar and confident with the process. David Peckford, Principal Planning Officer
- It was really useful to see how a hearing session is run. Overall, the workshop has given me a great insight into the examination process. The presentation was clear and was helpful for leading us to the mock hearing which was one of the highlights of the workshop. Yuen Wong
- A very useful update and good preparation for any involvement in an examination hearing. A good confidence boost! Andrew Bowe
- I had no experience in hearings and this session has helped me to gain an understanding and importantly has built my confidence. It more than met my expectations. Maria Garcia Dopato.
The aim of this highly practical and extremely popular workshop is to provide anyone who is about to be involved in a DPD Examination with a better understanding of the system; what it is designed to achieve; and crucially, how they personally can participate in the process effectively. It provides participants with practical skills and information to assist them and their authority when they attend their own examination.
The morning session explores the nature of the examination process, the roles of the different participants, and how the Inspector will run the examination itself. The afternoon session is devoted to a mock hearing exercise in which participants have the opportunity to play an active role. This enjoyable and worthwhile exercise provides an insight into how an Inspector is likely to approach the procedural elements of the examination and how he/she will seek to assess the soundness of the particular DPD concerned. A list of our previous satisfied clients and some participant feedback can be found on the TRA website.
If you are interested in organising in-house training on DPD examinations, or you would like more information, such as an outline programme, please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.
Catch up with ENews - 08/11/13
If you've missed a recent issue of ENews, can't find that article you meant to keep on file, or have only just subscribed to the newsletter then don't forget that previous issues of the TRA monthly newsletter can be accessed via our website. Just visit the Newsletter Archives page to catch up.
Get more for your money with in-house training options - 06/11/13
TRA was recently commissioned on behalf of Bracknell Forest Council to prepare and deliver two in-house sessions on enforcement issues on the same day: one for officers and one for Councillors. The sessions were developed and delivered by Senior Associate, and TRA’s resident ‘Enforcement Expert’, Vivien Green.
Delivering training in this way - two half-day sessions on the same day, as opposed to two half-day sessions on different days - is much more cost effective for the authority.
The training for officers ran in the afternoon and was for the benefit of the Council's planning staff who needed an overview of planning enforcement and the key tools for taking enforcement action. The session looked at what the NPPF says about enforcement; what constitutes a breach of planning control; the time limits for taking enforcement action; the importance of evidence; the tests for expediency and the key elements of the main enforcement tools.
Participant feedback was very positive:
- Good rounded presentation without becoming too technical. Gave participants the opportunity to ask questions at regular intervals. The handouts provided are clear and useful and should help me with my case loads going forward. Peter Brunsden
- It provided an excellent insight into what planning enforcement is, how it works, and what the options are. A very interesting programme. Richard Sherwin
- Not having any previous knowledge of enforcement work the session has now given me this knowledge to implement in my new role. Mark O’Leary
Timing was an important consideration in scheduling the training for Councillors, and so this session was delivered in the evening to suit the participants. The training was for the benefit of Ward and Parish Councillors and covered the key elements of planning enforcement.
The session started off by looking at the need for planning permission and then briefly considered some of the problems of defining whether development had taken place. The presenter then dealt with:
- what constitutes a breach of planning control
- the time period that the Council has for taking action
- expediency and planning harm
- the outcomes from this decision
- the key features of an Enforcement Notice and an appeal.
Once again, participant feedback was very encouraging:
- Excellent presentation. Very informative. James Finnie
- I found it very helpful and informative. Mrs. R. Woolford
- Very comprehensive without being too detailed. Bruce McKenzie-Boyle
- Excellent presentation with full answers to all (complex) questions. Well structured content. Michael Brossard.
This is the ideal approach if both officers and councillors require training or if you have two different groups of officers with different training needs (as recently seen at Slough Borough Council where we delivered one session on Validation and a session for a different audience on Appeals).
As we would be involving a single presenter, there may be limits to the range of topics that can be covered in this way, but the majority of TRA’s experienced presenters are knowledgeable on a wide range of planning related subjects. If you have any particular requirements and you would be interested in delivering training in this way, please contact Angela Holmes directly, to discuss the options available.
Senior Associate addresses national conference for Councillors - 05/11/13
TRA Senior Associate, Vivien Green, was once again invited by the RTPI to deliver a workshop on planning enforcement at their annual Politicians in Planning Conference. The event took place on 25th October in Milton Keynes and this time round Vivien chose to talk about Breaches of Conditions.
Some of the Councillors who attended were new to Planning Committee but others obviously had a long-standing interest in enforcement and their questions and concerns made for an interesting and lively session. Vivien's presentation looked at the timescale for acting against a breach of condition - considering whether it was expedient to enforce or whether the condition needed to be varied/amended - before briefly explaining the pros and cons of the enforcement tools: breach of condition notice and breach of condition enforcement notice.
She finished the talk on a positive note, considering how LPAs could put more effort into monitoring compliance with conditions as advised in the NPPF. Whilst acknowledging that there are a number of reasons (not all financial) why many Councils are not proactive and do not monitor compliance with conditions, she suggested some incremental changes that most LPAs could take on board. For example, improving one of the most important (and neglected) documents that comes out of a planning office - the decision notice. She looked at making them intelligible and user-friendly by the ordering of conditions: grouping all pre-commencement conditions at the beginning and then proceeding in a logical sequence through conditions relevant to the stages of development, ending with those which would always apply to the development. To demonstrate how poor some notices are she showed delegates one issued only a few days previously (diplomatically redacting the name of the LPA). Have you looked at yours recently?.......
As TRA's expert on enforcement, Vivien has delivered a number of in-house workshops for Councillors on various aspects of planning enforcement; some half-day and some full-day. If you think Councillors in your authority would benefit from a similar session please contact Angela Holmes, without obligation, to discuss your requirements.
Enable more staff to deal with planning applications - with bespoke training and support from TRA - 29/10/13
TRA recently carried out a very interesting assignment for Blaby DC which we believe may be a useful model for other authorities looking to increase their capacity to process planning applications.
Our brief from the authority was to devise and deliver a training programme for a small group of technical and enforcement staff to enable them to deal with simple householder planning applications. In response, Senior Associate, Sue Glover, developed a 6-day programme (delivered over a 6 week period) which combined group training and one-to-one mentoring.
Feedback on the programme was positive:
- Was really useful to spend some afternoons on site visits listening to others comments etc. Sue was great at explaining and answering questions; very relaxed and friendly.
- It was very interesting with good practical learning experiences with support from an experienced tutor.
- The style of training was laid back and relaxed which made it enjoyable. Looking forward to putting the training into practice.
Having undertaken this initial assignment, we are pleased to be able offer this service more widely and would encourage anyone considering taking a similar approach to capacity building and skills development to get in touch for a chat.
This sort of training would be appropriate for planning administrative and support staff, enforcement officers, and planning officers who normally work in policy. It would necessarily focus on smaller scale applications and, depending on the authority’s needs, this could include householder applications, small commercial, variation or removal of conditions, prior approvals and advertisements.
Benefits to the authority from this kind of upskilling include:
- enabling a wider range of staff to deal efficiently and effectively with planning applications
- providing greater flexibility when resources are tight and deadlines need to be met
- encouraging a team-based approach to decision-making.
The staff themselves also benefit by widening their experience and opportunities and developing a better understanding of how different elements of the planning process work and interact.
The training would typically cover:
- policy analysis and the basis of decision-making
- site visits, including health and safety
- site-specific issues such as design considerations, conservation areas, impact on neighbours, parking and highway safety, trees and landscape etc
- good practice in report writing (and the implication for appeals)
- conditions and reasons for refusal
- dealing with customers, and
- negotiating with agents.
The format is flexible and training can be tailored to suit the needs of the authority and the staff involved. A basic model, however, might involve several days working with staff in the authority, typically involving training in small groups in the morning and one-to-one mentoring/coaching in the afternoon. One-to-one sessions can be spent discussing current cases, working on reports, conditions and reasons, and going on site visits for hands-on practical experience. Group site visits can also be organised to analyse Inspectors’ decisions and review examples of recent development. Email support is also available between sessions so that participants can raise specific issues with the Tutor.
If you would like to know more or to discuss your particular requirements please contact Penny O'Shea without obligation.
2014 workshop programmes coming soon! - 28/10/13
The TRA 2014 Training Workshop Programmes for Planning and Development Practitioners in both England/Wales and Scotland are currently being finalised, and details will be published on our website as soon as they are available, so be sure to keep an eye on it!
Once again, the programmes will include a mixture of our popular, well-established training workshops and some brand new ones being developed for 2014. New topics are likely to include effective report writing, customer care, and design principles.
The discounted Block Booking Scheme which many authorities have taken advantage of in recent years will remain in place, offering between 10 and 15% discount on bookings of 2 or more places made at the same time over any number of events.
If you would like to receive details of the 2014 programme by email and are not already on our mailing list you can sign up to it here.
Neighbourhood Plans: independent examination service from TRA - 25/10/13
The Localism Act 2011 introduced the new right for communities to come together to draw up a Neighbourhood Development Plan or Neighbourhood Development Order for their local area. Where communities takes up this right, the LPA has a number of statutory duties to support the process, including making arrangements for the independent examination of the Plan or Order before it can be put to a referendum.
After a slow start, neighbourhood planning now seems to be gaining momentum. According to DCLG, over half of LPAs are working with their communities on neighbourhood planning. So far, more than 500 Neighbourhood Areas have been designated by LPAs across the country, four Neighbourhood Plans have been subject to a referendum and a further 13 have been submitted for publicity and independent examination.
In appointing an Examiner, the LPA is free to choose (with the agreement of the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum) anyone who:
- has appropriate qualifications and experience
- is independent of the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum, and
- has no interest in any land that may be affected by the proposed plan.
TRA has provided support for the planning service for many years and, being independent of both local and central government, is ideally placed to offer appropriately qualified and experienced Independent Examiners.
Our Examiners are all Chartered Town Planners but have a wide range of backgrounds and experience, enabling us to suggest the most appropriate person for each examination based on the characteristics of the area, particular issues involved etc.
Please see our website for further information on TRA's Neighbourhood Plan Examinations service.
Latest Forum on Enforcement: in case you missed it - 22/10/13
TRA's latest Forum on Enforcement took place in Manchester last month. TRA has now been organising an Enforcement Forum for well over 20 years (and in some years we've run two events). Trevor Roberts was probably the first person to recognise the potential for Enforcement Officers to make a valuable contribution to the planning service beyond mere investigations - if they were provided with the knowledge and confidence to undertake the wide range of enforcement work.
This year's Chair, Bill Murray, started off the day by asking how many of the delegates could claim to have attended at least 20 previous Forums. It was pleasing to see quite a spattering of hands go up - in fact more than we had expected. One of those who raised her hand was our Senior TRA Associate, Vivien Green, the first speaker for the day. She admitted to attending back in the 80’s and being invited by Trevor to give her first talk to the Forum in 1992 on the subject of the usefulness or otherwise of a new tool called a Breach of Condition Notice.
On this occasion, Vivien delivered a Legal Update for Enforcement – an essential element of CPD in such a complex and litigious part of the planning process. This sort of session can often be rather “dry”, but Vivien (a self-confessed anorak when it comes to enforcement case law) choose to look at particular cases from the perspective of the LPA and then at how the matter had got to court, drawing out the relevant practice points along the way. Unusually for this session, she also provided pictures of the cases and invited delegates to ask questions as she went along.
The three parallel sessions looked at dealing with Gypsies and Travellers; becoming more proactive in the monitoring of conditions; and some tips for appeal work.
- Neil Costen, Planning Enforcement Manager at Basildon, was a key player in the enforcement action and subsequent direct action to remove the Gypsies from Dale Farm. From this very protracted and high profile case he teased out what he had learnt and provided some practical guidance for any Enforcement Officer faced with these sort of problems.
- James Cooke, Acting Principal Planning Enforcement Officer at South Gloucestershire, talked about the impact of their enforcement team being split from planning and also what they decided to do when they found that 100% of pre-commencement conditions on minor developments had not been complied with. He explained his LPA’s approach to becoming more proactive and invited comments from the audience on their own experiences. This resulted in some useful ideas about how to introduce more monitoring into what is often a very reactive service; including building more monitoring into s106 agreements and making use of CIL when it is introduced.
- Senior TRA Associate David Kaiserman’s session looked at tips to improve dealing with appeals, starting from the “expediency report” whether this is a delegated matter or not, going through to what to do and not do at the site inspection with the Inspector.
The final plenary session was given by Rhona McMeekin, an Investigator for the Ombudsman. Her interactive talk explained the role and powers of the Ombudsman, taking questions along the way. She reminded us that no organisation is perfect and mistakes happen. The Ombudsman’s concern is that LPAs learn from their mistakes and improve their practice. We should not be afraid to admit a mistake so long as the matter is put right as soon as possible. Essentially she was trying to tell us all – how not to see her again!
The date for the 2014 Forum will be confirmed shortly so look out for that in future editions of ENews and reserve your place early.
Bespoke training for Councillors involved in planning - 10/10/13
TRA has been training Councillors involved in planning for almost 20 years and has trained many thousands of Councillors in more than 220 local authorities across England, Scotland and Wales. A list of clients and some of their feedback can be viewed on our website.
Over the years TRA has developed a number of one-day workshops for Councillors which have become extremely well-established and have been delivered for hundreds of authorities; in particular the Briefing on Planning for Councillors and The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice.
We do appreciate, however, that individual authorities sometimes wish to provide training which is more directly tailored to their specific needs, perhaps covering less mainstream topics or combining them in different ways. In such cases, we provide as much flexibility as possible in developing bespoke training sessions to reflect these needs.
Some recent examples of bespoke sessions that we have delivered are:
- Greenbelts and the decision making process
- Getting the best from planning
- Gypsies and Travellers
- Wind energy and planning
As a starting point, an indicative list of the sessions we can run for Councillors on more specific aspects of planning can be found on our website, but we should be able to cater for most requirements.
In particular a brand new session ‘Avoiding costs awards at appeal’ has recently been developed. This workshop provides guidance on the grounds for costs claims and shows how to avoid a successful claim against the Council. It is appropriate for all Councils, but would be especially relevant when Members are inclined to make decisions contrary to officer recommendations or where Councils are losing appeals because they don't have a 5 year housing supply or an up-to-date Plan. Even if appeals are ultimately lost, it is possible to avoid costs awards. The workshop examines a variety of scenarios and case studies, and provides useful tips and information to implement best practice procedures to fend off costs awards.
If you would like to discuss your Councillors' training needs to see if we can assist or if you would like to see outline programmes for any of our Councillor workshops, please contact Angela Holmes, without obligation.
Newark and Sherwood get back to basics with Tree Hazard Assessment - 03/10/13
TRA was recently commissioned by Newark and Sherwood District Council to prepare and deliver a one-day bespoke training workshop on Basic Tree Hazard Assessment and Tree Protection Orders (TPOs), on an in-house basis.
The workshop was developed and delivered by TRA presenter, Paul Allen. It provided visual inspection training at a basic level for a small group of staff with a non-arboricultural background. The training allowed participants to 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 were suitable for their species and/or condition.
The main course objectives were to enable attendees to:
- state the legal and safety implications of hazardous trees
- maintain their own health and safety while carrying out basic visual inspections
- recognize hazardous trees
- determine the level of risk
- decide on an appropriate course of action
- collect and maintain adequate information
- recognize their own limitations
- understand the criteria for the serving of a new TPO
- have a basic understanding of BS3998: “Treework – Recommendations”
These objectives were met using a variety of training techniques including presentations by the presenter, group discussions and exercises including a site-visit, which was an element of the training that the attendees found especially useful. Course feedback was particularly encouraging:
- Good to have a field survey – gives the training better context.
- I found the session informative.
- I enjoyed the tree identification and on-site visit.
- The training workshop met more than my expectations. I found the presenter very enthusiastic; an interesting session that now makes me feel differently towards the trees in our area. Enjoyed the day!
- Good overview – crash course on trees. It provided a very useful update.
- The presenter was knowledgeable and enthusiastic.
This session is now available for delivery to all authorities, so if you would like to receive a detailed proposal, including an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes directly.
Please remember that the prices we quote are ‘all-in’ and therefore include all of our fees, presenter expenses and pre-course/course material, which means there are no hidden extras and our clients are aware from the outset what they can expect to pay at the invoicing stage.
Valuable lessons for Junior Planners on Material Considerations and Report Writing - 25/09/13
TRA was recently commissioned by Welwyn Hatfield Borough Council to prepare and deliver a one-day bespoke training session covering Report Writing, Material Considerations and the Use of Conditions.
The workshop, developed by TRA Presenter, David Kaiserman, was aimed squarely at less experienced (but qualified) planners who are under pressure to perform to a high standard and who might feel that they are getting mixed messages about what that actually means in practice.
The workshop had two main objectives:
- to "brush-up" on two basic aspects of the development management job; what are "material considerations" in the planning system (and how we decide what weight to give to them)? and the sometimes overlooked issue of conditions and how they should be used; and
- to provoke a discussion about what makes a good committee report – in fact, any written report (such as a simple appeal statement). Who are we writing for, and what to leave in and cut out?
The day provided an opportunity for debate about good practice, drawing on the presenter's long experience both of local government and the work of the Planning Inspectorate.
Feedback from the session was very encouraging:
- Extremely useful to gain an insight into issues from someone with so much experience. Richard Aston
- Exceeded my expectations; covered all areas and enabled lots of question and interaction. Will hopefully be able to implement suggested changes soon! Lisa Hughes
- This course has been extremely useful on a practical level, discussing a full breakdown of report writing. Personally, as I have just begun my placement year the skills learnt today will help me throughout the year. I also feel that the advice given will aid the authority in ‘cutting down’ the report writing task, making for a more efficient service. Gerard Manley
- Very good and detailed, raised many issues which will help in report writing. The content of this course was just right and the reference to real life cases was very helpful. P. Jefcoate
- Very helpful and good to take away handouts afterwards for future reference. Kate Phillips.
As a result of running the course, the authority now intends to revise its approach. If your authority has any specific requirements regarding training, or you would be interested in receiving more information about the above-mentioned workshop, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes directly for a no-commitment discussion.