Diary

As fans of BBC comedy The Office will know, the corporation's Children In Need appeal involves going to work in silly costumes to raise money for charity.

Around 20 planners at Sunderland City Council decided to uphold tradition this month, raising £646 through donations from the development control and regeneration services department. That's RTPI North East chairman Steve France wearing the eye-catching naughty schoolboy outfit.

Ministers rarely win widespread praise for their work. So it is refreshing to find that planning minister Baroness Andrews appears to have developed a fan base in the House of Lords for her legislative skills.

Andrews had members of the house gushing last week as she wooed them through the third reading of the Planning Bill. The DCLG's secret weapon was thanked by Liberal Democrat Lord Tyler for responding to issues raised by peers with "meticulous efficiency".

Labour's Lord Howarth of Newport said Andrews has "embraced her historical destiny to become the reformer responsible for the institution of legal requirements that will raise design standards across the entire planning system".

Even Tory shadow communities minister Lord Dixon-Smith felt obliged to pay tribute. "Her last missive to me was sent at 10.50pm, which indicates how hard she and her team have been working," he acknowledged.

But arguably the best accolade came from the Bishop of Southwell and Nottingham: "I am most grateful to the minister for the enormous energy she has put into striving for the best possible legislation. She is probably conscious that she is nearing sainthood in this house."

Studies on the south coast suggest that the world of art may have more to tell us about the full extent of climate change on particular localities than previously suspected.

Robin McInnes, who runs Isle of Wight-based consultancy Coastal and Geotechnical Services, was struck by the possibilities of combining his passions for geography and art in an examination of the effects of coastal erosion through paintings, drawings, prints and engravings.

McInnes and researchers from the University of Portsmouth studied works by 400 artists inspired by the island and the adjacent stretch of mainland coast from Hurst Point to Selsey Bill between 1770 and 1920.

They then whittled the list down to 22 artists whose works best depict the changing coastal scene. "Using art gives us a clear picture of the pace of evolution as well as developmental change," says McInnes.

"It helps us understand how it has been necessary for people who live on coasts to adapt to changing conditions over the centuries. In some places, this has involved retreating to higher or more stable ground further back."

A full report on the findings is due out next month. University coastal policy specialist Jonathan Potts says: "It is a really novel way of using art. It strikes a chord with people because they can see straight away how their environment has changed."

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


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