What to say about planning reform today? Oh why bother? It's almost not worth commenting. Just let 'em all get on with it. It's all mad. And at this rate it's going to become even madder than last summer's exhausting and ill-informed furore over the NPPF. It's just a total free-for-all isn't it? Why didn't they listen? And as ever, with planning issues, it's an all-out competition to see who can be the most self-interested. Honestly. Makes you yearn for a benevolent dictator (and I am a democrat, honest guv).
Sir Merrick is right to point out that this is somewhat inconsistent with localism. But he also helpfully points out a truism: that the low level of house building is due to the failure of banks to lend to house builders or buyers (so one can't help wondering where the "thousands of homes" on peoples' doorsteps are going to come from). The LGA estimates around 1,500 stalled planning applications to build as many as 75,000 dwellings could be referred to the inspectorate. So they'd better order in some more Hob Nobs.
In another part of the forest, the Sunday Times had the headline "Developers ready to pounce" claiming that an "investigation" by the paper has revealed that developers have already purchased large swathes of green belt land or agreed deals to buy the land if planning permission is approved. "The disclosures of the deals and scale of the holdings will fuel concerns of an unprecedented building boom on the green belt".
The paper says that L&G Property has put forward plans for a new business park south of Luton, Crest Nicholson has submitted a document outlining 2,000 new homes in Keynsham, near Bristol, and Taylor Wimpey wants restrictions eased on green belt development land in the south Gloucestershire core strategy area.
Now I am always rather bemused by the serious naivety revealed, whenever property stories are covered in the national press. Does the Sunday Times really believe this is news? These sorts of shenanigans have been going on for years. Decades.
The far greater (and far less understood) scandal is the cynical land banking on the part of certain house builders of sites with "strategic employment land" status; quietly confident that, sooner or later, our manufacturing base will have eroded to such an extent that hard-pressed local authorities will be sympathetic to change of use, and they can knock down those pesky sheds (thereby further eroding the manufacturing base) and build yet more "luxury homes", even if they are in inappropriate places. Lovely lovely lovely.
Infrastructure projects are also in disarray. In yet a third part of the forest, Cheryl Gillan, the recently sacked Welsh Secretary, calls for the government's £32bn HS2 rail scheme to be abandoned. She says the high-speed link between London and Birmingham is a "white elephant" that flies in the face of "Conservative principles". And she should have added "bugger the UK economy".
Mrs Gillan, (who of course is MP for Chesham, slap bang on HS2's route) says the scheme is already causing "mayhem" in her local property market and ministers were failing to give residents proper compensation for the collapse in the value of their homes.
"If this project is forced through, it is vital that our beautiful environment is protected and people are compensated for this blight on their lives, homes and businesses," she adds then, trying to have it both ways. I guess Mr Cameron must have known she'd turn rogue on the government; he just had too many conflicting interests to balance.
But all this is as nothing in the face of the Mail on Sunday story claiming that Zac Goldsmith is, or has, or will (it isn't very clear) stand down from his Richmond seat so that Boris can return to the House of Commons and challenge David Cameron for the leadership of the Conservative Party.
Leave aside that the Conservative Party needs a leadership election like a porcupine needs hair straighteners, you cannot help but observe that it does neatly sidestep the huge row between these two bizarre politicians over the third runway at Heathrow (but not to worry peeps, as the BBC is now saying that Heathrow expansion won't happen anyway).
Gawd alone knows how this information is viewed by the good burghers of Richmond upon Thames. But they are probably just blanking it: what or who should they believe in any case? Oh dear. As is often observed: in war the first casualty is the truth.