Sid Ryan wanted to see if planning applications near planning committee members were more or less likely to be accepted. Here’s the first part of how he did it (a second part – on researching people – here):
While researching Hammersmith and Fulham councillors’ registers of interest for a feature, I began looking into the council’s planning applications database.
By joining up the council’s data and presenting it on a simple map I could show the building hotspots and make accessing public data much easier, even if I didn’t find the undue influence by councillors I was looking for.
Below is a guide to making the map itself, and another post to follow will go through adding the councillors details and researching them using public records. Continue reading
If you are trying to investigate something – to get answers to a question – how do you make sure that you use your time most effectively?
- Find background information – e.g. news coverage, official reports, etc.
- Find experts
- Find witnesses
- Find people who are affected by it (they may gather in online communities such as Facebook groups, mailing lists or forums)
- Find laws and regulations relating to the issue
- Find documents – e.g. internal reports, meeting minutes, declarations of interest, etc.
- Find facts and data – these are often compiled in internal or external databases, research, etc.
- Write up the story so far – this is particularly useful for providing context for those who come to the investigation later.
If you're investigating something to do with planning or buildings, there's a very useful Guide to the Planning System at Planning Aid. The organisation provides planning advice to people who cannot afford expensive legal advice, so it's also a useful resource to bookmark if you ever need to ask a quick question about planning procedures.