Refusals and appeals. A data mush-together. For councillors

We’ve been asked to focus on appeal performance recently. It’s taken a bit of work but I’ve got to the point where it’s worth sharing to see if anyone has got any bright ideas about what to do with it next.

I last looked at this several years ago when the rate of upheld appeals (because of my partisan nature I’m going to call them “lost” as opposed to “won”) was about 33% and had been stable for several years. And again more recently, it hadn’t moved.

But this consistency at the national picture marks a very wide range of results at regional and council level. It was the work of a few moments to see that this ratio of win/lose masks a wide range of outcomes. There are even some councils that lose more than they win.

39% is "worst" quartile for planning appeals

39% is “worst” quartile for planning appeals

And, as is often the way, looking at appeal performance on its own is not the whole picture. The simplest way to never lose an appeal is to permit everything. So, somehow, we need to mush together the ratio of permit/refuse (available from DCLG live tables) with the appeal results (from the Planning Inspectorate).

[full references are at the end of this post. The short version is that I’ve used two years’ worth of data to bump up appeal numbers to make it slightly more robust. It’s a snapshot of the average of the data available across April 2011 to March 2013. ]

Working with councillors recently they were hungry for some data and an understanding of their council’s performance. Those that sat on committee periodically received reports on appeal performance, but it was in little slices and didn’t allow them to see bigger pictures or how they were different (or not) to their peers.

At this point you would expect me to write my thoughts and conclusions. I haven’t because I am surprised. I can see that these stable national averages mask wide variations between regions and, even within regions, wide variations between councils. But what does this mean ? What can we learn ? How can we use this information to improve ?

I’m sorry. I don’t know. I can’t make all this make sense. Download the file. Open File D. Have a look at your figures and see if they speak to you, and then let me know your ideas.

Data references

File: Part A NI 157 appeals and quality

Speed of decision data is taken from Table 151a (districts) and 151b (counties). Quality of decision is Table 152a+b.

PINS data is from their statistics page. I’ve used the two sets of full-year outputs and added together tables 6.1 to 6.7. This means I’ve used grouped together straight planning appeals with householders, LBs, Adverts and certificates. While I have grouped the enforcement appeals (in case you’d like to incorporate them in some way) they are not included in the figures I’ve used.

file : Part B Table 151s (application counts and outcomes)

The information on how many applications are refused is published in table 131 on the live tables part of The “live” part of the live tables arrangement means that only the most recent quarter is available. I requested the 8 quarters covering April 2011 to Mar 2013. The secretive statisticians (they occupy a professional role and never use their human names) were very helpful.

These 8 quarters are grouped in “table 131s”. This is the full set, just aligned so that each council is on the same line across the two years. This is uncleaned but I offer it in case you want to work on a subset of the data.

I then had to clean the data up. You can see that I’ve removed the development corporations (no longer exist). This date range covers time when many councils didn’t bother submitting statistics. Maybe they thought we were over it. Any council with less than 50% submission was removed. Then to allow for the occasional gaps I averaged the data that was there, so that in summary we have an average number of applications received, permitted and refused. Have a look. We had a bet at the office to see who could name the 10 largest planning authorities in England. Our winner (somegardener) took it with 60%. There are some names in there that you wouldn’t expect !

Part C : the planning statistics mash-up

It shouldn’t have been as much work to get here as it was, but hey-ho. The final step is to take the cleaned data from these various sources and put it on the same line. To keep it trim and focussed I have used all planning applications as one lump and ditched the speed and quality thing from file A.

This means I’ve dropped all the counties (sorry but your numbers are too small to be useful in this context).

I suggest you start on the “summaries” page. The first two columns are the average number of permissions / refusals per quarter. The next two are the total number of appeals and upheld appeals in the 24 months. The three following columns are the calculations derived from these. See if you can get your head around the differences between London and the NE. It’s something to do with the market and the seriousness of applicants maybe ? Lots of cockney geezers giving stuff a whirl and not minding when it doesn’t work out ? Underneath the regions is the national picture.

The next sheet is the detail for every council. Because there are such big regional differences I’ve compared their results to their region rather than the national average. There are some very big differences here. As always, I’ve colour coded them according to top / bottom quartile. Although some people may disagree that low refusals = good.

So, for example, Adur refuses 19% of application like everyone else in that region. 16% of these refusals are appealed which is slightly higher than usual (do applicants fancy their chances ?). Once they get to appeal the council wins 88% of them which is much better than their peers (so the applicants shouldn’t have fancied their chances). If you want to check my maths all the stuff for the calculations is there, just hidden.


One thought on “Refusals and appeals. A data mush-together. For councillors

  1. Pingback: Appeals | Planning Advisory Service

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