Latest News

Shillingstone Neighbourhood Plan submitted to TRA for examination - 18/07/16

The latest neighbourhood plan examination to be organised through TRA's Independent Examination Service is for the Shillingstone Neighbourhood Plan.  The plan was submitted by North Dorset District Council earlier this month and Brian Dodd has been appointed as the Examiner.

Our Neighbourhood Plan examination service offers a competitive pricing structure and the excellent administrative backup and customer service for which TRA is well known. We can usually put forward a suggested Examiner (or Examiners) within a few days. If you would like to know more about the service please visit our Neighbourhood Plan Examination page.

If you are interested in receiving a quotation or have any additional questions you can contact Penny O'Shea on 01204 385678 or without obligation.

Planning Enforcement - Oxford City Council brush up on the basics - 18/07/16

TRA was recently commissioned to deliver its popular training workshop The Basics of Planning Enforcement at Oxford City Council.

The workshop is aimed at DM staff who are either directly or indirectly involved in enforcement work or who wish to have a contextual understanding of the system; as well as relatively new or less experienced enforcement staff.

It provides a clear guide to understanding the basics of the enforcement process whilst looking at practical steps to make enforcement more efficient and effective. The workshop helps participants to gain greater confidence, by improving their awareness of the context in which they are currently working.

The session was presented by TRA presenter, Vivien Green, and course feedback was excellent:

  • Very good and aimed well considering a mix of knowledge. Answered lots of questions and gave a lot of information in a short space of time. Sara Maylon
  • The training met all of my expectations. Jeff Mbariti 
  • My expectations were exceed, learnt a lot. Such a wide and deep topic clearly explained. Fiona Bartholomew
  • Exceeded expectations. A very clear and knowledgeable presenter. Learnt a lot. N.Robinson.

If you are interested in running this session on an in-house basis, as Oxford did, then please feel free to contact Angela Holmes for more information, including an outline programme.

This is one of TRA’s most popular training courses and other clients who have commissioned this session recently include Doncaster, South Gloucestershire and Cheshire West and Chester.

Last few places on brand new Effective Appeals workshop in Scotland - 29/06/16

Brand new in our 2016 Scotland programme is Effective Planning Appeals, taking place on 29 September in Glasgow. The workshop looks set to be a sell-out, with just 4 places remaining.  If you'd like to attend we'd suggest you reserve your place asap.

This new event is a master class from a serving reporter on up-to-date best practice in presenting and resisting planning appeals made to the Scottish Ministers. It will be appropriate for both public and private sector professionals. The workshop has been developed by retired Solicitor Frances McChlery and will feature:

  • a review of the 2013 appeals regulations
  • experience of the management of other procedures such as report cases and Electricity Act casework
  • guidance on responding to procedure notices, further written submissions, hearings and public inquiry sessions
  • an update on electronic working and document management
  • the expenses circular and some recent examples, and
  • an overview and update on Local Review Bodies and the distinctions between LRB’s and Ministers’ appeal procedures.

Further details and a booking form are available on the TRA website. If you are unable to send a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings to reserve your place(s) are strongly recommended for this popular event and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

Discounts of between 10 and 15% are available when booking 2 or more places at the same time over any number of events in the 2016 Scotland programme. Further details of the scheme and information on other events available are on the website.

Latest vacancies on TRA Jobs Board - 29/06/16

Here's our pick of the current vacancies on our Planning Jobs Board (with closing dates in July):

Advertising on TRA's Jobs Board is entirely free to local authorities handling their own recruitment. 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.

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 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.

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 (most application forms ask this question).

Bromley and Waverley Councillors get an insight into the Appeals process - 29/06/16

TRA was recently commissioned to deliver two in-house training sessions focusing on Appeals for Councillors.

The first was delivered at the London Borough of Bromley and was presented by TRA Presenter, David Kaiserman.  It provided Members with an overview of the significance of appeals in the planning system. The attendees were mostly experienced Councillors so, rather than an overview of the basics, the session looked at the way in which appeals are decided; and in particular it considered what has happened since the arrival of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF).  It also highlighted the principles behind the costs regime. It was intended to provide an opportunity for debate on these issues, and generally threw some light on a number of grey areas.

The second session was delivered by TRA Presenter, Lee Prebble, on behalf of Waverley Borough Council.  This session was more of a general overview of the basics, helping Councillors to understand the planning appeal process and how it works; to appreciate the differences in requirements for the various appeal methods and consider how they may be involved and contribute. It gave Members the opportunity to discuss various elements including what constitutes good and bad evidence and the avoidance of costs.

Participant feedback from both of the sessions was excellent:

  • Clear guidance on the processes, procedures and pitfalls facing local councillors when involved in planning appeals
  • Met my expectations and more so. In depth and clearly explained
  • Excellent – we requested this tailored training and we got so much more
  • I particularly liked the interactive exercise
  • Excellent presentation with a lot of comment from personal experience
  • I wish this training course had been available years ago. I have concerns relating to the influence that statutory consultees have on our ability to make a decision based on our local knowledge of our ward.

TRA can provide training for Councillors on various aspects of planning, some of which are mentioned on our website.  Both of the above training sessions were delivered during the evening in the form of a three hour workshop.  All of our short Councillor training sessions can be delivered at a time to suit, in either a morning, afternoon or evening.

If you feel that a focused session on Appeals, or another specific topic, would be of interest to your Councillors, please feel free to contact Angela Holmes who will provide you with a no obligation quotation.  Please note that the prices we quote are ‘all-inclusive’ and therefore include all of our fees, presenter expenses and pre-course/course documentation – so no hidden extras.

September workshops in London booking up fast! - 24/06/16

Following the Summer break, the 2016 Training Workshop Programme will resume with three workshops taking place on 22 September at The Wesley in London. One of the workshops on Effective Validation is already fully booked but there are still places available on the other two, but don't hang around!

Being an Effective Witness at Inquiries
This workshop is aimed at both planning and other technical officers who may be called as an Expert Witness at a Planning Inquiry but have relatively little or no previous experience. It is intended to promote a good understanding of the preparation required; what should be included in a witness statement; and how to give evidence in chief and under cross-examination. The workshop will provide participants with a solid grounding to improve their confidence, and thereby effectiveness, when giving evidence.  It will identify the legal and procedural requirements and provide practical advice on the approach to providing both the written and oral evidence needed to support reasons for refusal, conditions to be attached to a permission, or justification for enforcement action.

Comments from some of the participants who have attended this workshop previously include:

  • "Very interesting and good content explained well"  Erica Buchanan, Wellingborough Council
  • "Very helpful tips from preparing proofs/statement of case – to what to do on the day.  Interesting tactics/approaches to be taken"  J Ryan, Test Valley Borough Council
  • "It was a very thorough workshop, taking us through every stage of the Inquiry process and giving us a lot of tips and confidence in our role"  Georgina Doyle, Charnwood Borough Council

The Enforcement Toolkit and how to use it (NEW FOR 2016) - only 4 places left
This brand new workshop is ideally suited to those who already have some experience of planning enforcement work, and will be particularly useful for enforcement officers, planning officers or lawyers who have any part to play in the taking of formal enforcement action.  Elements covered will include the collection of evidence, the application of the 4 and 10-year rules, the timing of the assessment of expediency and what an assessment entails, including what are relevant material considerations. From this assessment "scenarios" should emerge which will indicate the appropriate action(s) and the range of tools that can be used. The workshop will focus in particular on the use, drafting, serving and defending of enforcement notices. Real life examples and case studies will be used throughout.  For previous participants of our popular Basics of Planning Enforcement this new workshop provides an ideal next step in their professional development.

Further details and booking forms are available on the TRA website via the above links to the appropriate workshop. If you are unable to send a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings are recommended to reserve your place(s) and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provisional booking facility.

Discounts of between 10 and 15% are available when booking 2 or more places at the same time over any number of events in the 2016 programme. Further details of the scheme and information on other events available (including the Forum on Enforcement) are available on the website.

A Forum on Enforcement 2016 - time to book your place! - 17/06/16

Details have now been finalised for the latest Forum on Enforcement due to take place at the Manchester Meeting Place on Thursday 13 October 2016.

This event is firmly established as the update for people involved in or interested in planning enforcement. It is a unique opportunity to learn from our highly experienced panel of contributors and exchange useful experience with colleagues from other authorities and organisations.

TRA has always recognised enforcement as a vital and very complex aspect of the planning process. Over the years we have been at the forefront of providing a range of training and education opportunities including our annual Forum for enforcement officers, legal and planning staff, and anyone from the private sector with a specific interest in planning enforcement.

As enforcement can become particularly litigious it is important we all keep up to date with recent case law and so the day will begin with a Legal Update by solicitor IZINDI VISAGIE, founder of Ivy Legal.

Three parallel sessions will then be run once before and once after lunch giving everyone the chance to attend the two which are of most interest to them:

  • DAVID BAILEY, Traveller and Diversity Manager with Fenland District Council will explain how to put a Direct Action Plan into practice when previous enforcement action has failed to remedy a breach of control
  • LUKE VEILLET, Planning Officer (Enforcement) at South Oxfordshire and Vale of White Horse Councils has been the lead officer responsible for implementing new procedures for proactively monitoring 'major' development sites and will look at how this is operating
  • DON SORBY, Principal Planning Investigations Officer with Doncaster MBC has been involved in a significant number of cases where planning injunctions have been urgently required and will outline the process that must be followed to ensure success.

The final plenary session will be given by CHRIS FRANCE, Head of Planning at North York Moors National Park Authority. Chris will explain how his authority has successfully implemented a mechanism for recovering the costs of taking enforcement action from owners or occupiers. In light of current budget cuts, this should be of considerable interest to all planning authorities!

The Forum will be Chaired by MARK DALL, Enforcement Officer with Fife Council and former Chair of the Scottish Planning Enforcement Forum.

Further details for the Forum and a booking form can be found on the TRA website. If you are unable to send a firm booking straight away, provisional bookings are recommended to reserve your place(s), and can be made by telephoning 01204 385678 or via our online provsional bookings page.

As always discounts of between 10 and 15% are available when making bookings of two or more places at the same time, over any number of events in the 2016 programme. Details of other events available and a discounted block booking form can be found on our website.

Getting to grips with Planning Enforcement in Doncaster and Cheshire - 10/06/16

Planning enforcement is the most complex and litigious part of the planning process; therefore effective enforcement is essential to maintain the integrity of the whole planning process.

TRA’s workshop ‘The Basics of Planning Enforcement’ introduces staff, some of who may not necessarily be involved in enforcement work, to how the system works and this was recently the case in both Doncaster MBC and Cheshire West and Chester Council.

Each session was delivered on an in-house basis for staff with varying degrees of enforcement knowledge and both directly and indirectly involved with enforcement matters.

This popular and interactive workshop deals with:

  • defining the breach of planning control
  • the need for thorough investigation and evidence of the alleged breach
    some immunity issues
  • assessing expediency and the importance of demonstrating harm
  • the scenarios that follow from the expediency tests
  • the pros and cons of using some key enforcement tools
  • the basics of enforcement appeals and the consequences of non-compliance with a notice.

Referring to relevant case law and welcoming questions and concerns throughout, the sessions proved to be very popular with the attendees:

  • A well delivered presentation which held all of our attentions on what could have been a dry topic! Pitched at the right level for our group. Very informative, the presenter was very knowledgeable on the subject at hand and was very engaging. I feel much more prepared should we have to take a larger role in enforcement complaints. The presenter effectively demystified the legislation and regulations relating to enforcement. Lyndsay Shiner, Cheshire West and Chester
  • A really good introduction into enforcement. The presenter was very well informed and provided detailed answers to all the questions raised. We could not have asked for a better course presenter! Clare Appleyard, Cheshire West and Chester
  • Excellent presentation, very well delivered. Very useful as a planning policy officer to brush up on this aspect of planning. Very enjoyable. Thank you. Chris Reynolds, Doncaster
  • Exceeded my expectations in respect of a better grounding of planning legislation and methods to be utilized for enforcement routes. Really enjoyed the style and approach of the presentation. Claire Bignell, Doncaster.

These particular workshops were delivered by Vivien Green, TRA Senior Associate and one of our most experienced presenters.  If you think that your authority would benefit from an in-house session on Enforcement, please contact Angela Holmes directly with your requirements.  Please note that we are happy to develop bespoke sessions where appropriate or tailor existing sessions to ensure that training fully meets with your exact requirements.

New Green Belt development workshop for Councillors - 24/05/16

Following the introduction of a new workshop for officers on Development in the Green Belt as part of our 2016 training programme, we can now offer a similar session for Councillors.

Understanding Development in the Green Belt is a three hour workshop which can be delivered at a time of day to suit Councillors' other commitments, whether that's morning, afternoon or evening.

The session begins by considering the purpose of Green Belt before moving on to it's main focus - what you can and cannot do in the Green Belt - looking at the NPPF, the role of development plan policies, the difference between appropriate and inappropriate development, and what is meant by very special circumstances.

The workshop includes practical work on a case study looking at a range of Green Belt issues and a round-up of important case law.

If you would like to know more about this workshop and how it can be run for your authority please contact Angela Holmes.

Latest Support Staff Conference focuses on change - 23/05/16

TRA’s 2016 Planning Support Conference took place last week in London. 73 delegates from 38 LPAs heard a well-rounded series of presentations and debate around the future of planning.  In light of more and more Government proposals to alter how the planning system operates and who provides it, the theme for this year’s Conference was "change".

Peter Lerner, TRA Senior Associate, and currently Interim Director responsible for planning at Hounslow, took delegates through the pros and cons of opening up the processing of planning applications to alternative providers. Peter focused on a number of uncertainties that still exist around the proposal and expressed his belief that for a number of good reasons it was unlikely to be successful without further consideration of aspects such as member and third party inter-relationships.

Nick Harding, Head of Planning at Peterborough and Fenland Councils, where he manages a shared service, explained in detail the challenges and benefits of LPAs merging their services. Nick’s thoughtful insight into the problems he faced and how, to date, they have been overcome, gave food for thought that LPAs can make the model work with a lot of hard work and no little flexibility from those involved.

Vivien Green, TRA Senior Associate rounded the morning off with a brief overview of recent procedural changes in development management.  After lunch Vivien continued her presentation by demonstrating how the Government’s changes have affected the amount of development proposals now within LPAs’ determination as a result of the rise of Prior Approval Notifications, greater flexibility in permitted development and increased powers for direct Government intervention.

This led perfectly into a round-table discussion led by Chair Chris Weetman, TRA Associate and independent planning consultant. The good humoured and thoughtful debate focused on where the panel believe that planning is going, and what issues and challenges it faces. These included ensuring there is a balance between speed, quality of decision making, good customer service and good design, in what is seen as an increasingly Treasury-led process. 

The debate was a move away from the traditional breakout workshop format and allowed delegates to hear how the changes could affect them and what they could do to get more involved in their own authorities to influence and respond to a changing planning landscape.

The final member of the panel, the well-travelled Simon Rowberry who is currently interim Planning Policy Manager at South and Vale Council, demonstrated how he believes that support staff are the bedrock of planning, providing an invaluable skill set not readily available in the private sector. Simon’s conclusions were that change is not going away, and that staff have to be flexible, embrace change and influence it where they can.

Feedback on the day was positive:

  • Having only been in planning support for a year I feel the session has enlightened me to the bigger picture.  Tracy Lynch, Watford BC
  • I thought the format of the round table discussion was excellent with all the speakers bouncing questions and ideas off each other. Dan Nickson, Cheshire West & Chester Council
  • Structure of the conference worked well. Really enjoyed round table discussion after lunch. Robyn Chandler, Maldon DC
  • Very helpful and excellent opportunity to hear from others in a similar situation including professionals with previous experience. Carrie Chan, Chiltern DC.

Examiner recommends Arley Neighbourhood Plan for referendum - 23/05/16

The examination of the Arley Neighbourhood Plan, submitted to TRA by North Warwickshire BC, was completed in April. The Examiner Brian Dodd concluded that, subject to some modifications, the Plan meets the "basic conditions" and other legal tests required. He therefore recommended that the Plan should proceed to a Referendum once modified. The Borough Council will now consider the Examiner's report and make a decision on whether the Plan will proceed to this next stage.

The Neighbourhood Plan Examination service provided by TRA offers a competitive pricing structure and the excellent administrative backup and customer service for which TRA is well known.

If you would like to know more about the service please visit the Neighbourhood Plan Examinations page of our website. If you are interested in receiving a quotation or have any additional questions you can contact Penny O'Shea on 01204 385678 or without obligation.