A Quick Heads Up

Every session I deliver is done so in-house at your premises or at a location sourced by you. None of my products are open sessions where you can book a space or two on a specific date. There is no minimum or maximum numbers required for the session to go ahead either, although I recommend capping the head count to 24 if you can.

The Basics of Planning

This practical workshop is designed as an introduction to the planning process for administrative, technical and enforcement staff working in the public sector. As well as providing an introduction to anyone who is new to planning, it will also be relevant for staff with some experience who want to set their job in a wider context. The workshop will provide structured learning about the key elements of: plan-making, how questions of what is development and permitted development are dealt with, how planning applications are processed and decisions made, when and how enforcement action is taken.

The sessions are interactive, dealing with delegate’s concerns and questions about any aspect of the planning process. Inputs from the presenter will be supported by group exercises and case studies, providing participants with a valuable opportunity to meet and share experiences with colleagues from other authorities and other parts of the planning process.

Negotiation Skills: the key to achieving planning goals and objectives

Almost every day, planning, enforcement and other ‘environmental’ staff within local planning authorities engage in some form of negotiation. Often these negotiations, whether they are with developers, agents, the public or even their colleagues, are carried out without any clear understanding of the principles and techniques involved. Yet having an awareness of both principles and techniques, coupled with experience, can make a formidable difference to an officer’s effectiveness.  This workshop focuses on persuasion and influencing skills; when to negotiate and when not to; approaches to negotiation; “tricks” and techniques; and the power and personality dimensions. The workshop combines theories with working references from the experience of participants.

An Introduction to Delivering Large Strategic Sites and New Settlements

This practical workshop will explore the delivery process for large-scale, residential-led sites and new settlements (including Garden Towns and Villages). It explores the challenges and issues involved in creating new communities and examines good practice from around the country, looking at urban extensions and free-standing settlements, to understand how these challenges are being tackled. The workshop will take participants through the whole process of delivery, from the importance of formulating a robust planning policy at the outset through to delivery mechanisms to ensure implementation. It will be useful for Policy and Development Management officers alike, along with any other officers involved in the planning delivery process for strategic, large-scale schemes. There will be ample time for discussion and problem solving during the day.

Use of Conditions: necessary, precise and enforceable?

This workshop is suitable for anyone involved in drafting conditions or who have to monitor and enforce them. Front-loading the application process through pre-app discussions and use of local validation lists is intended to reduce the need for back-loading permissions with conditions. But does this happen? Are alternatives to pre-commencement conditions working? Are your “model” conditions effective and up to date? The workshop will consider these questions and also go back to basics in respect of case law and the legal powers to impose conditions. Topics will include; meeting the legal tests; the importance of giving sound and convincing reasons; the conditions suggested by consultees; control by s106 or condition; and handling applications to vary/remove conditions. The NPPF requires authorities to consider producing Local Enforcement Plans which should include “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 pulling together some of the ways in which all those involved can work together to improve effectiveness.

Development in the Green Belt

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, and continues to maintain, its commitment to protecting the Green Belt, the revised NPPF has subtle changes from its predecessor and significant difference from the old PPG2. Using case law from a number of recent cases, this workshop provides an up-to-date résumé of 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.

Supporting Health and Wellbeing through Planning

The links between good planning, design and placemaking and improved health and wellbeing outcomes for citizens is increasingly being recognised. Recent research by Public Health England points to cost effective interventions in the built and natural environment that can be promoted through planning policy and decision making. Alongside this, the current NHS Healthy New Towns Programme is demonstrating the value of good planning, small but effective design interventions, and the value of partnership working. This workshop draws on current and emerging best practice to assist planning professionals both develop effective policy suites and make better decisions that support health and wellbeing. It will also focus on ensuring that healthcare provision is built into new developments and planned for in partnership with CCGs and other service providers.

Managing the Planning Customer's Experience

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.  This interactive workshop 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.  It 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 concludes with action points for achieving positive outcomes. There are many courses on customer care but the benefit of this one 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.

Writing Effective Reports: making the best use of your case and your time

With resources being so stretched, is it possible to produce short and focused planning reports that will nevertheless stand up to scrutiny by Councillors, Planning Inspectors and the public? This interactive workshop is full of tips (and some challenging suggestions) from a very experienced practitioner. It begins with a recap of material considerations and the weight to be given to them, before exploring in detail what makes a good Committee Report (or appeal statement) including thinking about who we are writing for and the purpose of the report, and striking the balance between what to leave in and what to cut out.

Permitted Development and dealing with Prior Approval Notifications

This workshop is suitable for any staff who have to deal with enquiries about Permitted Development or who need to understand PD in order to deal with alleged unauthorised development. This workshop looks at how PD works and provides some crucial definitions and help in interpreting and applying the most frequently used classes of permitted development, many of which now include the prior approval notification procedure.  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 and how the Prior Notification procedure works, how applications should be processed and appeals/breaches handled. Crucially, it will provide an opportunity for delegates to ask any questions about PD and to be made aware of any further changes the Government are proposing to the regime.

The Use and Abuse of Planning Conditions and Section 75 Obligations

Planning conditions or Section 75 Obligations can make the difference between the approval or the refusal of planning permission; they should therefore be necessary and reasonable.  They must be monitored to ensure compliance with their requirements, so should therefore also be precise and enforceable.  This popular workshop will examine the use of conditions and Planning Obligations with reference to Circulars 4/1998 and 3/2012, using genuine examples of both good and bad practice!  The procedures relating to the submission of applications to vary/discharge conditions and obligations will also be looked at in detail.

A Beginner's Guide to Processing Planning Applications

This workshop is aimed at all those who are new (or relatively new) to processing planning applications.  It provides a comprehensive introduction for newly qualified planning officers with little hands-on experience, support staff who are now taking on responsibility for handling applications, and enforcement staff who deal with retrospective applications. The workshop will take participants through the fundamentals of development management: the decision making process, the role of planning policy, material considerations, the use of conditions and the appeals system. Providing practical guidance and useful tips, its aim is to increase participants’ confidence in their new role and provide important pointers for further learning and development.

Viability: what planners need to know

Assuming no prior knowledge of the subject this popular workshop will cover everything from national advice and guidance to applying viability in practice.  It considers viability for Local Plan policy development and testing, and in the context of Development Management decision making.   Drawing on examples of good practice, appeal decisions and case law it seeks to de-mystify the viability ‘black box’ enabling participants to understand and evaluate the various components that make up viability, and the different models and ways of assessing it. Through presentations, discussions and a wide variety of practical exercises, the workshop also gives participants the opportunity to begin applying their knowledge in practice by considering viability issues and challenges they are currently facing and ways in which these may be resolved.

Effective Validation: good practice for all application types

This workshop is concerned with validating the wide range of applications submitted to a Planning Authority: planning, advertisement, listed building, certificates of lawfulness and prior notifications. The workshop will consider the different requirements for different types of application as set out in primary and secondary legislation (including the fee regime); the use of local validation requirements; and when to ask for further information. The workshop will also consider how authorities deal with invalid applications and handle disputes. Identification of statutory consultations, notifications and publicity usually follows from validation and identification of constraints, so the workshop will also ensure that participants are aware and up to date on the requirements for different application types. Throughout, the Presenter will highlight the opportunities that exist through incremental and marginal changes to make this key element of the process both more efficient and effective.

An Introduction to Appeals

This 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.

Appearing at Hearings

Hearings are a vital element of a planning officer’s work, often in circumstances where the officer is on his/her own. This highly practical workshop provides a structured opportunity for sharing and developing experience of Hearings. It includes a thorough briefing on procedures, style and good practice, followed by a mock Hearing exercise using a real case study. The workshop is designed to improve both preparation and presentational skills and enhance the overall confidence of those involved. Although the workshop is primarily aimed at planners, others who provide more specialist services and may need to appear at a Hearing (such as enforcement, landscape, conservation, highways etc) will also find it useful.

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.

Avoiding Cost Awards at Appeal

There is an increasing tendency for both appellants and Councils to make an application for costs on appeal. An award of costs against you is unwelcome at the best of times, and particularly in these days of limited resources, but they can be avoided through good practice. By examining a variety of scenarios, this workshop analyses each stage from receipt of an application through to appeal (by Written Representation, Hearing or Public Inquiry), including Committee decisions. It considers what measures can be put in place to minimise the risks of a successful costs claims against you and in what circumstances you should pursue an application for costs against the other party. The workshop is appropriate for all those involved in Development Management, including both Council officers and planning advisors to appellants and third parties.

Appearing at Public Inquiries

This workshop is aimed at staff in development management and related fields who need to learn, practice or sharpen the skills involved in appearing at Public Inquiries.

The objectives of the session are :

  • to improve presentation, witness and advocacy skills
  • to clarify the roles of different participants at the Inquiry
  • to equip participants with a clear understanding of Inquiry procedures
  • to enhance good practice

The aim is to boost participants’ confidence by enhancing their competence.

A crucial part of the two-day training session is a “cameo inquiry” which is run on day 2. Participants get an opportunity to practice presentation as part of the inquiry; they are allocated a “role” in advance and are asked to prepare for that role.

Enforcement of Listed Building Control

This workshop will provide a valuable introduction or essential CPD for enforcement officers who investigate and deal with breaches of Listed Building Control and complements our other workshops on planning enforcement. It is also suitable for planning and conservation officers who may get drawn into dealing with breaches of listed building control, managers who may have to authorise taking enforcement action or lawyers who have to draft notices or consider prosecutions. The workshop will look at the legislative framework, the pros and cons of using particular procedures and current best practice. Topics covered during the day will include: what is listed, defining the curtilage, what constitutes a breach of listed building control, investigations and use of statutory notices to obtain information, when to caution, using enforcement tools, appeals, whether to  prosecute (s9 and s43), what has to be proven/statutory defences and the use being made of POCA.  Reference will be made throughout to relevant case law.

The Enforcement Toolkit and how to use it

This workshop is ideally suited to those who are relatively new to planning enforcement as well as anyone who already has some experience (including planning officers or lawyers) seeking a legal update and “refresher” of their knowledge.  Elements covered will include determining the nature of the breach, time limits for taking action, and the timing of the assessment of expediency and what this entails. 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 look at the pros and cons of using the key tools, the options for dealing with failure to comply with their requirements and the increasing use of Confiscation Orders under POCA. Real life examples and case studies will be used throughout.  For previous participants of our popular Basics of Planning Enforcement this workshop provides an ideal next step in their professional development.

Understanding and Enforcing Outdoor Advertisement Control

Outdoor advertisement control is a complex and often poorly understood part of the planning system and a subject where not much CPD is provided. Dealing with enquiries or alleged breaches of control may not get a high priority but they can be difficult and time consuming if you do not have a clear understanding of how the dual system of control over any development and the need for consent to display the advertisement operates. This workshop is designed to help participants understand this system and how the Advertisement Regulations operate: advertisements that are excluded from control, Deemed consent, Reg 7 Directions, Express consents, the need to comply with Standard Conditions etc. It will consider good practice in prosecuting illegal advertising and ways under the Planning and other Acts to remove illegal advertisements. It will be of benefit to anyone who is involved in advertisement control but particularly enforcement officers. The sessions are designed to be interactive and to deal with participants’ questions and concerns. The learning outcomes from the day should be enhanced knowledge and confidence to operate this element of control.

How Planning Enforcement Works

The integrity of any authority’s planning process, and the planning system in general, relies on effective enforcement when it is essential to deal with a breach of planning control. This workshop is aimed at staff who are either directly involved in enforcement work or who wish to have a contextual understanding of the system. It is designed for relatively new or less experienced enforcement staff but will also provide a useful “back to basics” review for those who have been in the role for some time but who have not have had much formal training.  Specific aspects covered will include: what is a breach of planning control; is there any unauthorised development; the complexity of the immunity rules; how to deal with complaints; evidence collection; and effective use of some of the key elements of the enforcement toolkit.

Planning Enforcement in Practice: the core elements in detail

This workshop will be best suited to those who already have at least some experience of enforcement either as enforcement officers, planning officers or lawyers. For anyone who has previously attended our popular Basics of Planning Enforcement workshop this session would be an ideal ‘next step’. The workshop focuses on the nuts and bolts of handling enforcement complaints: getting information to assess a breach; drafting a report on expediency; and considering the use of an enforcement notice. There will be an opportunity to look at what went wrong with some real notices and whether they could be rectified on appeal. Where appropriate, the workshop will also include an update on any government proposals affecting enforcement.

Ensuring Effective Enforcement: drafting the notice through to compliance

This workshop is aimed at any enforcement, planning and legal officers who are involved in drafting, defending and securing compliance with enforcement notices. 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.

To get the ball rolling simply get in touch. There are various ways you can do that and I’ve listed them in my contact section.