Nestled amongst the yellow revellers at CentreForum’s Lib Dem bash late last night was none other than Greg Clark, the Tory localism and cities minister.
Mr Clark, enjoying a glass of red wine and chatting to adoring Lib Dems, had come up to conference to fly the flag of coalition – and take part in a CentreForum debate with Ed Davey, Lib Dem employment minister on ‘Next steps for localism’.
It was not entirely alien territory for the cities minister: Greg Clark used to be a member of the SDP – he went to the last SDP party conference 23 years ago.
The row over changes to the planning system has been both angry and loud, polarising opinion in a stark manner. On the one hand we have George Osborne, the DCLG, business lobbying groups and the property industry, all of which back the new National Planning Policy Framework.
Lined up against them are charities including the CPRE, Friends of the Earth and National Trust, who fear that the document – with its presumption for sustainable development - could provide a carte blanche for a wave of ugly developments across the countryside.