High-profile representatives from public and private property interests have taken part in a tug of war to raise money for charity.

Last Friday's event was organised by property industry charity LandAid to raise more than £100,000 to help the lives of young and disadvantaged people. The private sector won 2-1 in a fiercely fought tug of war in which planning minister Bob Neill felt the strain but remained standing.

The day saw a range of events to mark the inaugural LandAid Day. These included conker competitions, cake sales, poker tournaments, rowathons, dressing up, swear boxes, basketball shoot-outs and rock gigs.

Argent, British Land, CB Richard Ellis, Cushman & Wakefield, GVA Grimley, Hammerson, Helical Bar, Knight Frank, Land Securities and Savills were among the firms involved. "This surge of support shows the enthusiasm in the industry to help others," says LandAid chief executive Jon Siddall.

In pondering the question "when can I tell my builder to start work", people would be wise to think twice if they are considering building a house inside a barn or behind hay bales.

They should know that the London branch of the Planning Officers Society is on to them, with the aforementioned question the title of a list of imponderables issued to government. In a letter to communities secretary Eric Pickles, the branch has set out its thoughts on how to improve the planning system so that it operates in a more efficient way.

On enforcement issues, the society is at pains to stress the importance of preventing lawful development certificates being issued where development has been carried out using "extreme stealth measures".

Diary fondly recalls the case of Surrey farmer Robert Fidler, who built a mock castle behind hay bales to hide it from planners but lost his appeal to prevent it being knocked down earlier this year.

Less than three months after its inception, more than a million journeys have been made using bikes from London's new cycle hire scheme.

London mayor Boris Johnson is keen to get Londoners on their bikes. As an alternative to cars, buses and trains, their environmentally friendly credentials cannot be matched. Or can they?

At a meeting of the London Assembly transport committee, members questioned Transport for London over how the bikes, once used, are redistributed around the city.

They learned that a fleet of Ford cars does the job, transporting up to 20 bikes at a time. So it seems we still have a way to go before we achieve zero carbon emissions while getting around town at any speed.

You would have thought that London's deputy mayor Simon Milton would have been to enough conferences to have learned mobile phone etiquette.

Speaking at the Place West London conference last week, Milton had to halt his opening speech to attend to his phone. Fortunately it wasn't anyone important. Trying to turn the device off, Milton admitted: "If it was Boris, I might take the call."

- Should you find any stories that might interest Diary, please email planning@haymarket.com

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