I guess we should be glad to see housing is today's lead story (well, at least, conservatories are). But WHAT to make of this morning's hotchpotch of announcements in respect of planning and building?
Wednesday is Nottingham day for UKR (most weeks anyway). Gill Marshall (UKR Head of Love and Laughter) and I clambered aboard the East Midlands line as usual yesterday morning for an action-packed field trip.
It started with a cup of tea and a Twix, as usual (sold to us by Beverley) and culminated in a bottle of wine with the Sheriff of Nottingham (I kid you not. I have photographic evidence, just as soon as I work out how to retrieve same from my wretched iPhone) at the Via Fosse.
So the NPPF was met with a muted reception this week. Hip hip hooray. The sainted Liz Peace summed it up by Tweeting: "NPPF pleases most people most of the time. Is it a miracle or deft footwork? Time will tell." Well, my money's on deft footwork, definitely (and, she muttered darkly, if there'd been a bit more of it prior to publication of the draft we might have been spared all that exhausting furore). You'll have seen that my old mucker, Alex "Hot-Head" Kendall is calling for "a vote of no-confidence in the management board of the RTPI for the hysteria they have caused - a smoke screen for high subs and crap service". Go Alex! You have to admire her spirit.
So, finally, the NPPF (now down to a slim 50 pages, I understand) gets published today. Will all hell break loose again?
Listening to the calm, reasoned, reasonable, grown-up tone of Greg Clark on the R4 Today programme this morning, the optimist (c'est moi) indulges in the fervent hope that the frenzied collective hysterics of the National Trust, the CPRE, Simon Jenkins, the Daily Telegraph, Sir Bufton-Tufton and Hyacinth Bouquet do not get visited upon us all over again for the spring of 2012. Blimey, the prospect is too exhausting for words.
And what an extraordinary over-reaction it all was last summer, doncha think? You'd seriously have thought that a "presumption in favour of sustainable development" was on a par with world poverty and pestilence. There was one exquisite moment, you may remember, when the Greek financial crisis was - in all seriousness - blamed on their lax planning laws. And at that stage you knew the plot had been lost, completely and utterly.
I have now been partying - hard - for two solid days, starting with my champagne tea in the Landmark with Alan J Smith OBE DL on Monday (remind me to tell you about "Marilyn, the Dove of Love, in a Jo Malone bag" when I see you. I kid you not. It was hysterical). So I was, understandably, a little bleary this morning as I awoke from my (ahem) beauty sleep to find that the NPPF is yet again the lead item on the R4 Today programme. The select committee report on the NPPF was issued at midnight, and Clive Betts, the committee chair, was certainly up with the lark at 6.50am. And he seemed to communicate that the report was somewhat hostile, with the now familiar whiff of bureaucracy and green tone.
Of course, on closer scrutiny (thanking you Dr Evans) it would appear that the select committee report on the draft NPPF is nothing like as rabid as the press are making out. Rather than calling for a rewrite of the draft, it says: "There was little evidence of any desire to either retain the existing system or to start again on the NPPF." So, actually, this is a right result for Greg Clark and Grant Shapps, who are to be congratulated on achieving this extraordinary degree of consensus in what was a very fevered arena. And they are also to be congratulated on preparing to be open to further improvement when they look at what has been proposed.
I vowed I would keep schtum about all this, but I just can't help myself: if you ever needed proof positive that the Daily Telegraph will stop at nothing in its absurd and shrill "Hands off our Land" campaign against the NPPF, you saw it yesterday when poor old Richard McCarthy was splashed all across the front page. Mr McCarthy's crime? He is leaving a senior post in CLG, to further pursue his career in urban regeneration with Capita Symonds.
In all reality, this has absolutely nothing to do with the NPPF. Where is the story?
Now, I've known Richard for a good many years (indeed, since he was CEO at Peabody, and he sat on my board at Paddington) and his commitment to the cause of regeneration could never be questioned.