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Two days of workshops in London on 8 & 9 June 2016 - 25/04/16

The TRA Training Workshop Programme for 2016 will see its first batch of London events taking place on 8 & 9 June 2016, which will include 3 brand new introductions to the programme for 2016. A number of places have already been snapped up for these events, but there are still some left on each workshop for those who would like to attend:

  • Use of Conditions: necessary, precise and enforceable? - 8 June 2016 (also in Manchester on 27 September 2016)
    This recently developed workshop is suitable for anyone involved in the drafting of conditions or in monitoring and enforcing them. Efforts to front-load the application process with the introduction of local information lists were intended to reduce the need for back-loading applications with conditions, but there is not much evidence that this has been successful. Developers’ concerns have prompted the Government to re-visit the subject and also to introduce changes to speed up the discharge of conditions. The workshop will consider these matters and also go “back to basics’ in respect of what the Act says about the ability to impose conditions. Topics will include: meeting the legal tests; using "model" conditions; the importance of giving sound and convincing reasons; how to deal with conditions suggested by consultees; control through s106 or condition?; and handling applications to vary/remove conditions. The NPPF requires LPAs to consider producing Local Enforcement Plans, not only to explain how they will deal with breaches of planning control but also “how they will monitor the implementation of planning permissions”. So this workshop will also look at the problems involved in monitoring and securing compliance with conditions. It will conclude by looking at ways in which all those involved can work together to improve effectiveness.
  • Development in the Green Belt (NEW) - 9 June 2016
    The urgent need to provide more land for development has led to increasing pressures on the Green Belt since the publication of the NPPF. Whilst the government has maintained its commitment to protecting the Green Belt, the NPPF is significantly different from its predecessor PPG2. Using case law from four major cases (Timmins v Gedling, Europa Oil & Gas, Fordent Holdings and Lee Valley) this brand new workshop will explore how the courts have interpreted national policy and how this should be applied by Councils in local circumstances. Participants will work together on case studies to consider development proposals in the Green Belt in the light of those legal interpretations.
  • The Language of Urban Design (NEW) - 9 June 2016
    This new workshop seeks to equip participants with a confident approach to negotiating and commenting on planning applications with an emphasis on clarity, objective criteria and communication to Members, stakeholders and developers. Using a variety of techniques, participants will explore the language of urban design through examples, field work and the exploration of local and national policy, in the context of best practice from the UK and abroad. Touching on developing, using and supporting local policy, the workshop will provide participants with an essential understanding of local distinctiveness, in the context of the NPPF. With specific exercises that define such matters as scale, form, massing, layout, parking, roofline, the use of materials and the integration of contemporary design in context, the workshop will provide a solid grounding in urban design for a wide range of development professionals.
  • Ensuring Effective Enforcement: drafting the notice through to compliance (NEW) - 9 June 2016
    This brand new workshop is aimed at any enforcement, planning and legal officers who are involved in drafting, defending and securing compliance with enforcement notices. It would be ideal for anyone who has attended TRA's other enforcement workshops or seeks a refresher to their enforcement studies. It is a practical session looking in detail at the elements of drafting an enforcement notice and trying to "proof" it against potential grounds of appeal and invalidity. Consideration will be given to defending the notice on appeal including: the types of appeal; what is required in statements/proofs; preparation for/appearance at Hearings and Inquiries; and the site inspection.  Securing compliance (and potentially some recompense) with an extant notice is essential to maintain the integrity of the planning process so the pros and cons of the range of available options will be considered including the use of POCA.

Further details for each of these workshops can be found on the TRA website by following the above links, where you will also find a downloadable booking form. If you are unable to send a firm booking straight away for any workshops(s) you may be interested in, places can be reserved provisonally either by telephone on 01204 385678 or via our online provisional bookings page of the website.

Discounts of between 10 and 15% are available when making bookings of 2 or more places at the same time over any number of events in the programme (depending on the total number of places booked). Further details can be found on the Discounted Block Booking form and details of other workshops in the 2016 programme covered by this scheme are on the website.

Latest vacancies on Planning Jobs Board - 25/04/16

A bumper crop of situations vacant at the moment.... These are the current vacancies on our Planning Jobs Board (with closing dates in late April and May):

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).

Colchester BC hosts joint training with neighbours on Validation and Conditions - 18/04/16

Colchester Borough Council recently sought the services of TRA to deliver two in-house workshops for the benefit of their officers and staff from neighbouring authorities.  The sessions were run on consecutive days and covered Effective Validation and The Use of Conditions.

The Effective Validation workshop looked at the validation processes for a wide range of application types including:

  • Outline / reserved / full applications for planning permission
  • Applications for advertisement and listed building content
  • Certificates of Lawfulness (existing and proposed)
  • Prior approval notifications.

For the different regimes the workshop considered:

  • The validation requirements for each application type as set out in primary and secondary legislation
  • The fee regime
  • The regimes which allow the use of local validation requirements; how these are operated and kept up to date
  • When statutory consultation and notification is required
  • Statutory press / site / neighbour publicity
  • How authorities deal with invalid applications, handle disputes and when an appeal against non-determination can be made.

The aim of the Use of Conditions workshop was to improve the writing, use and enforcement of conditions and was aimed at staff who are involved in drafting conditions or in monitoring and enforcing them.
Specific topics included:

  • meeting the legal tests for the use of conditions
  • using "model" conditions (including those used by the Planning Inspectorate)
  • the importance of giving sound and convincing reasons
  • how to deal with conditions suggested by consultees
  • control through s106 or condition?
  • Handling applications to vary/remove conditions.

Both sessions were developed and delivered by TRA Senior Associate, Vivien Green and were well received, as the following participant feedback suggests:

Effective Validation

  • Very good and interesting, learnt a lot.
  • Was good to find out how other authorities work. The content was excellent and well presented.
  • Very informative, interesting. Good to learn what other teams from other authorities do and how differently they carry out the same tasks. Good day.
  • As someone completely new to planning, this was a good introduction. There is a lot to take in, but it was good for me to start hearing the ins and outs of the planning application process.

Use of Conditions

  • Very detailed, covered legislation as well as case law. Good balance of lectures and round table teamwork. Lots of questions answered – excellent thank you!
  • Really well presented and informative. Always up to date and knowledgeable.
  • Very thorough and good use of workshop. Plenty of time for questions.
  • Really well presented and informative; handouts really useful.

TRA has always encouraged clients who only have a small number of staff to train, to gauge interest and invite staff from neighbouring authorities to join in with training wherever possible.  This can help to reduce the per-capita cost considerably. Delivering joint training with neighbouring authorities is an option that a number of our clients have chosen, with very positive results. On this basis, we would need to deal with just the one authority as our lead-client for liaison, administrative and invoicing purposes; the client is then free to "sell-on" any spare places. 

If you think that your authority would benefit from either of the above workshops, please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes who would be happy to provide you with a detailed proposal, including an outline programme.

Still time to book on the 2016 Conference for Planning Support Staff - 18/04/16

As mentioned in last month's Enews, the 2016 Conference for Planning Support Staff will be a little earlier than usual this year and will be taking place on 19 May 2016 at The Wesley in London.

Bookings are going well, but there is still time to reserve place(s) for yourself and any colleagues who would like to attend.

The topics being discussed this year include:

  • Privatising the processing of planning applications?
  • Experiences of setting up a joint services across two authorities
  • Development Management Update
  • Round table discussion involving all the day's speakers around the future delivery of planning services
  • Adapting to, coping with and managing change.

Further details and a booking form can be found on the TRA website. If you are unable to send a firm booking straight away, places can be reserved provisionally by telephoning 01204 385678 or via the online provisional bookings facility.

Don't forget - discounts of between 10 and 15% are available if you are booking 2 or more places at the same time (over any number of events in this year's programme). Details can be found on this Discounted Block Booking form.


Arley Neighbourhood Plan examination organised by TRA - 14/04/16

The latest neighbourhood plan examination to be organised through TRA's Independent Examination Service is for the Arley Neighbourhood Plan.  The plan was submitted by North Warwickshire Borough Council in March 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.

Fylde and Shepway provide focused training for their Town and Parish Councillors - 14/04/16

TRA was recently commissioned by both Fylde and Shepway Councils to deliver in-house training for Town and Parish Councillors in their area.

The 3 hour session - A Briefing on Planning for Town and Parish Councils is aimed at Councillors and Clerks and designed to enable participants to make a more effective contribution to the Development Management process. It is a general Planning overview and the main aims of the session are:

  • to familiarise participants with the overall framework of the planning system and where development management fits into this 
  • to explain the basic components of the development management process and where Parish/Town Councils fit in
  • to explain some key concepts of the development management decision-making process, to enable Parish/Town Councils to relate to these effectively
    generally, to clarify the potential for, and the limitation of, Parish/Town Council input.

The workshop in Fylde was delivered by TRA Presenter, David Kaiserman; while the training in Shepway, which was delivered twice on the same day in order to capture as big an audience as possible, was delivered by Jed Griffiths.
Participant feedback from the sessions was excellent:

  • Very interesting, well-organised and informative. Shirley Delany (Freckleton PC)
  • A very good leader, very confident and obviously has extensive knowledge. Les Fragwe (Greenhalgh with Thistleton PC)
  • Extremely knowledgeable but purveyed in a simple, understandable manner. David Kirkham (Ribby with Wrea PC)
  • Was better than expected both in depth and range of material and made relevant to the position of Councillors in the structure. Neil Jones (Folkstone TC)
  • Very informative. Presenter enthusiastic, very knowledgeable and with a sense of humour. Paul Dimmock (Stelling Minnis PC)
  • Very interesting and presented in a manner that held my concentration. Extremely relevant to my role and will help our PC produce planning application responses in a more structured manner.  Joanne Howes (Lympne PC)
  • Met my expectations.  I attend numerous CPD events and this was very good indeed. Christine Barnett (Lympne PC)

If you are interested in finding out more about in-house training for Town and Parish Councillors please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes directly for a detailed quotation.  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. 

TRA successfully completes 2016 training series for Worcestershire Planning Officers Group - 13/04/16

In November 2015, following a successful tendering process, TRA was once again commissioned by the Worcestershire Planning Officers Group (WPOG) to prepare and deliver a programme of Continuing Professional Development (CPD) training sessions aimed at district and county planning officers in Worcestershire.

WPOG membership is made up of Worcestershire County Council and the District/Borough Councils of Worcester City, Malvern Hills, Wyre Forest, Wychavon, Bromsgrove and Redditch.

Four specific topic areas were chosen for the training series, which ran once a month starting in January, these were:

  1. A Development Management Update
  2. Renewable Energy
  3. Planning for Infrastructure
  4. A Planning and Housing Bill Update.

If you think your authority might be interested in taking this approach and setting up a series of workshops for Officers and/or staff, please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes with your requirements who will be happy to provide you with a ‘no obligation’ quotation.

Three Training Workshops in Manchester to start this year's programme! - 23/03/16

As mentioned in last month's enews, the TRA Training workshop programme for Scotland begins in Glasgow with two workshops taking place on 10 May. The programme for England and Wales will also begin in the same month with three workshops covering very different subjects, in Manchester on 26 May 2016:

  • Supporting the Processing of Planning Applications: from receipt to appeals
    Experienced support staff are key people within any planning department and the workshop aims to develop their knowledge and understanding of the detailed requirements involved in processing planning applications and appeals. This will also enable them to make a valuable input into re-engineering or streamlining these processes. The interactive methods of the workshop afford a valuable opportunity to compare work practices and procedures in other authorities and deal with practical issues and concerns. The workshop will also consider any proposed changes or consultations that are current at the time.
  • Engaging with Local Communities in Neighbourhood Plan Preparation
    As neighbourhood planning becomes an established part of the plan-making environment, planning professionals will increasingly need to draw on a wider range of skills to perform effectively. This recently developed interactive workshop provides planners and community engagement staff with an understanding of how best to work jointly and positively with neighbourhood planning groups and within ever-challenging local authority budgets.  It explores the issues and challenges faced by those preparing neighbourhood plans and the ways in which local authority planners can provide support. It looks at how this support can assist in community engagement, preparing a plan that meets the basic conditions and can successfully withstand independent examination. It also looks into the challenges of the neighbourhood planning agenda in development management and how to ensure ongoing community involvement in the planning process. Crucially, the workshop is delivered by a practitioner with significant experience of the neighbourhood planning agenda both within a local authority environment and as an Independent Examiner.
  • An Introduction to Appeals
    This recently developed workshop provides an overview of the appeals process and is ideal for those new to planning or with limited experience so far.  It includes a reminder of the basics including: rights of appeal; the methods of appeal; the role of Inspectors and the courts; and key points from the Regulations and planning practice guidance. The characteristics of each of the three methods of appeal (written representations, hearings and public inquiries) are considered and practical advice is given by an experienced practitioner on what makes a good appeal statement.  Recent trends, including success rates, the Government’s view of how the appeals system should operate and the current culture of the Inspectorate will be discussed. The workshop also includes an introduction to the costs regime. It concludes with a practical look at some recent appeal decisions to consider their style and scope.

Further details for all these workshops can be found on the TRA website via the above links. Bookings can be made using the booking forms available for download from the website. If you are unable to make a firm booking straight away for any workshop you may be interested in, provisional bookings are recommended to reserve places and can be made by calling 01204 385678 or via the online provisional booking facility.

As ever, our popular block booking system is available for those looking to book 2 or more places at the same time over any number of events in the 2016 programme to earn discounts of between 10 and 15%. Further details are available on this Block Booking Form.

New date for TRA Conference for Planning Support Staff - book now! - 21/03/16

As some of you may have seen, the 2016 Conference for Planning Support Staff was originally scheduled to take place on 23 June 2016. However, another slightly more large scale event has now been scheduled for this date by the government! As a result we have moved the Conference to the slightly earlier date of 19 May 2016 at The Wesley in London.

The Conference is aimed at all administrative and technical staff involved in the planning process and addresses new areas of practice, as well as day to day issues. It represents a unique and valuable opportunity for those involved in planning support to meet with colleagues from other authorities and learn about current best practice and future developments affecting planning.

This year's event is intended to provide participants with the opportunity to understand the current direction of travel and focus of planning service delivery and what it might look like in the years ahead, particularly in light of proposals in the recent Housing and Planning Bill. The contributors will be:

  • PETER LERNER, Director of Peter Lerner Consultancy and experienced Interim Manager will consider the issue of "privatising" the processing of planning applications
  • NICK HARDING, Head of Planning at Fenland and Peterborough Councils will share his experience of setting up a joint service across two authorities
  • SIMON ROWBERRY, Interim Planning Policy Manager at South Oxfordshire DC will share his considerable experience of adapting to, coping with and managing change in an ever-changing work environment
  • VIVIEN GREEN, TRA Senior Associate will provide an essential update on recent changes to Development Management and how these impact on service delivery
  • CHRIS WEETMAN, independent planning consultant and TRA Associate will chair the event, including the concluding session which will be a
  • ROUND TABLE DISCUSSION involving all the day's speakers, around the future delivery of planning services with a particular focus on the implications for planning support staff.

Further details and a booking form can be found on the TRA website. If you are unable to send a firm booking straight away, places can be reserved provisionally be telephoning 01204 385678 or via the online provisional booking facility.

This event is also eligible for the block booking scheme where bookings of 2 or more places made at the same time (over any number of events in the programme) will receive a discount of between 10 and 15%. Further details of this and a block booking form are also on the website.

TRA involved in LGA/NALC events for Town & Parish Leaders - 21/03/16

TRA was recently invited to contribute to a series of development events for Town & Parish Council Leaders being organised by the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and the Local Government Association (LGA).  Each event, which ran over three days, covered a range of topics of interest to Town & Parish Leaders, one of which was the planning system. TRA got involved because of its place on the Planning Advisory Service (PAS) approved supplier framework.

The planning workshop was delivered four times during January and February by TRA Associate, Andrew Ashcroft; three sessions were for Leaders and one was for officers from NALC who are responsible for training. The aim of the workshop was to increase understanding of planning and the role of Town and Parish councils in decision making, including through neighbourhood planning. The feedback from delegates was very positive:

  • Good speaker who covered a difficult area (for me) very well
  • Lots of info for me to develop my knowledge
  • Excellent, fast paced, interesting with useful tips
  • Very informative – lots of very interesting and helpful details, top tips and suggestions, very good!

TRA is the leading provider of training for Councillors involved in planning and our courses include a number of options for those involved at Town and Parish level. Further information and feedback from those who have attended can be found on our website:

If you would like further information on any of these training options, without obligation, please contact Angela Holmes.

Focusing on good customer care with Harrogate DM Staff - 18/03/16

TRA recently delivered an in-house session at Harrogate Borough Council on Managing the Planning Customer’s Experience for Development Management Staff.

This one-day interactive workshop provided participants with an understanding of why customer care matters more than ever before, and how to deliver good customer care at little or no extra cost in terms of time and money.

Whether as part of the LDF process or as part of the Development Management process – understanding who your customers are and how their needs might be met is an often overlooked element of the job. Traditionally, many authorities have either taken little account of their customers’ needs or gone too far in acceding to their demands. Finding that ideal centre position where the customer’s reasonable expectations are met is a difficult goal.

The session was developed and delivered by TRA Presenter, Chris Weetman, and feedback from the attendees was very positive:

  • Did what it said on the tin. Usual tips on how to proceed and how to handle customers in a more sensitive manner. Mark Dunforth
  • I feel better informed of the Do’s and Don’ts of customer service and complaint handling and it was also tailored to the particular service we provide. Andrew Siddall
  • Informative about how body language creates an atmosphere. Interesting case studies about how complaints are handled and how this can incur costs. Claire Barwick
  • Highlighted a few instances where I may be ‘weak’ and could improve. A good insight into how complaints can escalate if not handled correctly. Andrew Hough

If you would like more information on this course, such as an outline programme, then please do not hesitate to contact Angela Holmes who will be happy to assist, without obligation.

You can also visit our website to see details on the other workshops we can deliver on Management and Personal Development for Planners.

Post Election training for Councillors - A Reminder - 17/03/16

With local elections coming up in 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 over 240 local authorities throughout the UK.

Even for those Councillors who are relatively experienced in planning, training will be especially important in light of the ongoing changes to the way in which the planning system operates.  We regularly update all of our workshops to reflect such changes and what they mean with regards to a member’s role/responsibility; so you can be assured that our workshop content is bang up to date.

We can respond to various training requirements, providing individual bespoke sessions as appropriate, but particularly popular in the post-election period are our one-day sessions:

If the time commitment for Councillors is a major consideration we can also offer shorter sessions (3 hours) with flexible timings during a morning, afternoon or evening. These sessions are essentially shortened versions of the above Briefing on Planning and Role of Councillors one-day workshops and are delivered by one presenter.

The Training for Councillors section of our website provides some further information and answers the most frequently asked questions. We generally ask for around 4-6 weeks notice to arrange Councillor training but we will aim to accommodate clients wherever possible thanks to our large team of experienced presenters.

Please note that demand is always very high in the period immediately after the elections and therefore we would highly recommend that you get in touch as soon as possible to fix your preferred date(s) and avoid any disappointment. Several authorities have already avoided the rush and booked their training days. 

To see an outline programme without obligation, or to arrange a booking please contact Angela Holmes. Don’t delay, get in touch today to avoid disappointment!