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:
- Planning Enforcement and Material Change of Use, 29-30 April and 11-12 June 2014
Fully booked but includes 3 provisonal bookings still waiting to be confirmed. We have a waiting list in case not all three are confirmed so please contact Shelagh Pooley if you would like to go on the waiting list
- Key Principles of Planning Enforcement, 6-7 October & 24-25 November 2014
Taking into account provisional bookings, there are just 4 places left. This is the "introductory" module that most people start with and it won't be running again for another 12 months. If you are interested in attending we recommend that you let Shelagh know as soon as possible.
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:
- A Briefing on Planning for Councillors
- The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice
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.
- 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.
What were you doing 30 years ago?... - 28/01/14
It's possible that some of our ENews readers weren't even born 30 years ago, but back in 1984 Trevor Roberts was busy establishing Trevor Roberts Associates. Much has changed since then, including Trevor's retirement in 2009, but TRA is still going strong under the leadership of Principal Director, Penny O'Shea. Maintaining a business with TRA's reputation is a considerable acheivement and all the staff are extremely proud to be celebrating our 30th Anniversary in 2014.
Details of the training and consultancy support we can offer to the planning service can be found on our website and we look forward to being of assistance to you during 2014 and beyond.
TRA Training Workshop Programmes for 2014 now available - 24/01/14
We are pleased to announce that the new Training Workshop Programmes for Planning and Development Staff in both England/Wales and Scotland have now been finalised and can be viewed on the TRA website:
The TRA Training Programmes provide a unique and comprehensive package of value for money workshops and update conferences. These are aimed at those working in the planning and development field in both the public and private sectors, including not only planning professionals but also technical and administrative support staff and planning enforcement staff. TRA Professional Workshops are based on our 30 years' experience in providing specialist training; they incorporate practical exercises and discussion as opposed to a straight forward “lecture” format and are led by expert presenters who are experienced practitioners rather than academics. Feedback from previous participants has been very positive and some of their comments can be viewed here.
Once again, both programmes see the introduction of a number of new workshops which will run alongside some of our more established and popular events. New topics being covered are:
- Securing Good Design within the NPPF (England/Wales only)
- Writing Effective Reports (England/Wales and Scotland)
- Managing the Planning Customer's Experience (England/Wales and Scotland)
- Basic Tree Hazard Assessment and Tree Preservation Orders (England/Wales and Scotland)
- Operational Development and Permitted Development (Scotland only)
- Harnessing the Potential of Support Staff: an essential step towards improved planning performance (Scotland only)
Detailed leaflets giving further information for these and all the workshops in this year's programme are available to download from the TRA website, and copies of our brochure giving details of the programme as a whole are currently being circulated to our mailing contacts.
Bookings are invited on any of the events for 2014 and booking forms are available on the website. Our discounted block booking scheme remains in place for 2014. The scheme has proved very popular in recent years with authorities/organisations looking to gain better value for money wherever possible. Those wishing to take advantage of the scheme can earn up to 15% discount by booking 2 or more places at the same time (over any number of events in the programme). Block Booking forms giving further details are available to download from the website: England/Wales or Scotland
If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away but don't want to miss out, places can be reserved provisionally by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings facility.
Looking to appoint an Examiner for Neighbourhood Plans? - 22/01/14
If you work in local authority planning the chances are that your authority is already involved – at least to some extent – in supporting your local communities with neighbourhood planning. According to DCLG, more than half of all LPAs in England have received applications to designate one or more Neighbourhood Areas and 630 had been successfully designated by the end of 2013. Although less than 10% of Neighbourhood Areas have published a Draft Plan so far, neighbourhood planning is clearly gaining momentum and a lot more Plans are expected to come through in 2014.
An LPA has a number of statutory duties to support neighbourhood planning in their area, including making arrangements for the independent examination of a Plan before it can be put to a referendum. The LPA can choose who to appoint to examine the Plan (with the agreement of the Parish Council or Neighbourhood Forum) provided that the Examiner:
- 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.
Having provided support for the planning service for many years and, being independent of both local and central government, Trevor Roberts Associates 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 put forward 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.
Certificated Enforcement course: latest graduates - 17/01/14
Many congratulations to the most recent students to successfully complete TRA's Certificated Course in Planning Enforcement. Eight students were awarded the Certificate during 2013:
- Deborah Jeakins, Cambridge CC
- Paula Wilde, St Albans DC
- Samantha McDowell, Broadland DC
- Peter Simons, Hertsmere BC
- Deb Struthers, North Norfolk DC
- Rajinder Lalli, Warwick DC
- Ali Pridmore, Norwich CC
- Alan Barrett, South Derbyshire DC.
Undertaking the certificated course is a significant commitment but the benefits, for both the individual and their organisation, can be considerable. Prospective students might find some of the recent graduates' reflections on the course helpful in working out whether the course is right for them:
- I found the TRA Certificate in Planning Enforcement both challenging and rewarding, providing me with a solid understanding of planning control and enforcement. The courses were very well structured but flexible enough to allow detailed discussion with our Course Tutor which allowed the group to share valuable personal experiences and best practice as well as the potential pitfalls. The TRA training has given me the confidence and knowledge to deal more effectively with my ever increasing workload, especially the more complex planning enforcement cases. Ali Pridmore.
- The course structure involved case studies and assignments which required research and an application of the knowledge gained from each module. This greatly helped in the learning and understanding of the regulations. The completion of the course was instrumental in my promotion to Enforcement Manager where I have greatly practiced the knowledge gained from the course. Rajinder Lalli.
- I found the TRA Certificate in Planning Enforcement to be a well-structured, informative course. It opened my eyes to aspects of the job that I had not previously considered and I feel that it has led to my role as an Enforcement Officer being carried out more effectively and with more confidence. Deb Struthers.
- I found the TRA Certificate in Planning Enforcement both interesting and challenging. The structure of the modules and associated assignments gradually increased my knowledge and confidence by requiring the research and application of legislation and relevant case law to real examples of breaches of planning control from within my Local Authority. The Certificate is exceptional vocational training that is focussed on the needs of officers working within Planning. Deborah Jeakins.
These students join the long list of students who have been awarded the Certificate since the programme began in 1996 - there are now 145 graduates.
Are you a part of the Planning Admin Network (PAN)? - 09/01/14
The Planning Admin Network (PAN) has been established since November 2006; it has over 700 members and is of benefit to ANYONE who is interested in how the Planning Systems in England, Wales and Scotland function; it is not just aimed at Admin/Support staff, as the name might suggest.
The network functions via a dedicated website and because the network operates online, it's easy to contact people working in similar jobs regardless of whether they are in the next town or at the other end of the country - an opportunity you don't often get!
Membership is absolutely FREE and the key features are:
- an interactive discussion forum – which offers members an opportunity to ask questions/get advice from other members
- a monthly news section – enabling you to keep up to date with developments in planning
- a useful links page – signposting other websites which may be helpful
- a calendar – which allows you to see and set yourself reminders for upcoming TRA inter-authority workshops which might be of interest.
The Discussion Forum in particular is a very popular and useful feature; allowing members to pose questions and/or share their own knowledge and experience with others working in similar roles. There is also the opportunity to subscribe to the forum so that you receive an emailed notification when anyone has posted a new thread or replied to an existing thread – this ensures that you do not miss out on any of the action!
PAN News is updated once a month and is full of interesting and useful articles about the planning world and the wider context such as new legislation, current consultations etc. See an example of previous PAN News.
The PAN registration process is quick and easy and you only need to provide your preferred username, email and password. If you would like to join the network, just click on “register” on the homepage at www.planningadminnetwork.co.uk. Alternatively, to see more details visit the PAN page on our website.
Don’t delay, sign up to become a PAN member today and open yourself up to a wealth of FREE information!
Is it time to start looking at post-election training for Councillors involved in planning? - 06/01/14
With local elections coming up at the end of May, your authority may well be starting to consider the options for providing training for Councillors who are involved in the planning process. As the UK’s leading provider of practitioner-presented training for Councillors involved in planning, TRA has trained Councillors in more than 220 local authorities throughout 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:
- A Briefing on Planning for Councillors – covering planning procedures and policies, and focusing especially on Development Management, and
- The Role of Councillors in Planning: propriety and good practice - covering issues such as conflicts and declarations of interest, material considerations, lobbying, and making the decision.
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. Please note that due to time constraints a full case study cannot be used during the shorter sessions.
The Training for Councillors section of our website provides further information and answers the most frequently asked questions.
If you are interested in obtaining a quotation, including an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to Angela Holmes. The prices we quote are inclusive of all of our fees, presenter’s expenses and pre-course/course documentation. This means that there are no ‘hidden extras’ and our clients are aware from the outset what they can expect to pay at the invoicing stage.
Since demand is always very high in the period immediately after the elections, we would highly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to discuss your preferred date(s). Some authorities have beaten the rush and have already booked their Councillor training; so don’t delay!