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). Continue reading


New ways of resourcing planning enforcement

Dear Virgin media,

I understand you run a business that involves putting television pictures and what-not down cables in the ground. I have a small proposition for you.

Around our way we have lots of unauthorised satellite dishes. I counted 4 on the block of flats opposite me this morning. And that’s just on the two faces of it I can see.

unauthorised dishes

I wondered whether you might like to give us a small amount of money – enough to pay for a planning enforcement officer. We would work around each postcode making sure that these satellite dishes went through the proper process. We’d be happy to deliver one of your leaflets at the same time as our notice and would almost certainly generate more customers for you. And, at the same time, we’d also do some monitoring and have a poke about on some other non-communication issues that we care about. You’d accept that your money paid for a bit of this in return for a bunch of long-term customers.

We’d share with you what we were up to, and if in the end you weren’t getting enough business out of it to be worthwhile then fair enough. We’re under some pressure to think of new ways of funding public services and this seemed worth a shot. I’ve got similar letters to write to clear channel, Roche and some other guys.

Do let me know whether this is something you might consider.


Team Leader (Compliance, Monitoring and Enforcement)


From 2013 – a message to the past

This is a guest post by Brian Curran as part of our series on ‘Blueprints for ‘open source’ planning’

On reflection

Looking back, it feels like it wasn’t long before we all realized that a prerequisite for localism was strong nationalism. ‘Open source’ planning was doomed if everyone stubbornly invented their own method – we needed a standard 80% and a local 20%. ‘Open source’ became a language to describe how the boilerplate national approach was implemented locally.  It was the straightforwardness of the national framework that provides clarity even when, as sometimes happens, a community chose to define itself in opposition to what is generally accepted to be our national best interest.

Part of the problem we began with was the shoddy law. Scattered across statutes and case law, it was an unwieldy tool for specialists, let alone normal people. When we had a lightweight and cheaply updated policy (the purpose) and regulations (the rules) it was a revelation. A strong practitioner review and the fact that they are updated and issued as complete documents means that legal challenge and friction costs have reduced drastically. Continue reading