[this post replaces an earlier one that was getting a bit long and confusing. See the end for a new section on the new, experimental, 'quality' statistics]
Designation, and how to recognise, measure and avoid it
Since 2012 there has been a process analogous to 'special measures' for planning authorities. It is called 'designation' because the secretary of state has powers [under Section 62A Town and Country Planning Act 1990] to designate particular local planning authorities for poor performance. As a consequence, applicants can choose to bypass the local authority and submit applications direct to PINS.
It is worth reading the official explanatory memorandum
and the criteria document itself
It's also worth bookmarking the live tables published by DCLG and remembering which table does what:
Table P151: Majors speed ('a' is district, 'b' is county matter)
Table P152: Majors 'quality' ('a' is district, 'b' is county matter)
Table P153: Non-majors speed
Table P154: Non-majors 'quality'
Table P155: Oil/Gas developments
There are a few things that can catch people out.
10% is not many for majors, especially if you have a run of speculative applications. Make sure your committee understands the cumulative as well as individual impact of losing appeals.
Update 16th August 2017
There is a new test spreadsheet attached now - in addition to the Q6 'speed' crystal ball you have also a Q5 'quality' crystal ball. DCLG have provided us with a quarter-by-quarter version of table 152 as published recently.
This allows you to discard the three quarters that will not be used in the next round of designation - important if your performance is worsening over the range.
Frankly this 9 month delay makes for a horrid way to assess performance, and I strongly encourage every council who thinks they may be near the threshold to calculate the result for themselves. Do not wait for DCLG to publish the final result in xmas. You know almost every number you need to arrive at a very accurate assessment - use the template in the speed crystal ball and ask if you need any help.
Someone has pointed out that in the spreadsheet we unhelpfully describe the quality designation threshold of 10% as a minimum. It is, of course, a maximum.
Thank you so much for the spread sheet. I need to double check the authority data but it has really helped focus our minds.
Since Richard's last post I have updated the crystal ball to include Quarter 7 speed statistics. I have also created separate crystal ball spreadsheets for speed and quality so that the tools and information required for each one are in the same place.
If you haven't looked at or used these I encourage you to do so especially now that quality of decision making is the new performance game in town. In December the government are, for the first time, putting planning services on notice of designation for poor quality decision making (the ratio of no. of decisions overturned at appeal/total number of decisions expressed as a %age - 10% being the maximum allowed).The two year period being assessed for quality of decisions has already passed (April 2015-March 2017) so don’t wait until December; use our crystal ball now to assess if you are at risk .
Published statistics are too old to be useful
Relying on the government’s published statistics only help you look backwards, they are at least 3 months old when published, and, because they are look back over a rolling 2 year period, they don’t really help you understand how well you are performing within the period that you will finally be judged on. It is even more difficult with the quality statistics because of the 9 month time lag (to allow appeals to be completed) between the end of the performance period (March 2017) and December 2017 when the councils in danger will be notified
This means that for many councils not paying attention, it is already too late when they find out that they are under or close to the government’s designation thresholds.
Real time measurement
The crystal ball allows you to measure your performance in as close to real time as you care to feed in the most recent raw data. They show you at any given time how much cushion you have / gap you need to make up between your performance and the designation thresholds.
We are encouraging ALL councils to use the crystal ball spreadsheets as part of their performance management framework – many councils get caught in the designation process because poor performance ‘creeps up’ and, because the reporting period is over 2 years, just a couple of poor quarters can really drag overall performance down and for some councils it leaves them little time to recover.
PAS uses the crystal ball on a national scale to keep an eye on how councils are performing and offering support where we can. Our resources for doing this are finite and we can only ever get to those councils whose performance is dropping sharply and noticeably.
So, get ahead, use the crystal ball and tackle poor performance before it takes hold. Let us know here how useful you find them.