On Thursday last week I attended a pre-app. This is a meeting with the borough planners to discuss a possible application prior to actually putting in a formal application. I think it went well; I don't really know - having never been to one before I have nothing to compare it against. Slightly bizarrely we met around tables in the café atrium within the London Borough of Barnet's offices. I say bizarrely because this is a formal meeting and I was a little surprised not to be ushered in to a private conference room. Around the table was arrayed a formidable collection of battle-hardened property professionals: the Barnet principal planner who is handling our case, his assistant, our planning consultant, his assistant, our traffic consultant, our architect, and the head of property from the diocese. And, I almost forgot, me.
Then somewhat surprisingly the spotlight focussed on me; I was the one to give the background and make the case for the St Barnabas Solar House scheme. As the meeting continued, Barnet's principal planner gave helpful guidance and various of our professional team interjected their specialist contributions. Then right at the end of the meeting an amazing thing happened. I thought it would be good to end with a big picture statement of the overall vision from me. I launched into a pre-rehearsed speech about our vision for the regeneration of North Finchley, when the principal planner jumped in and finished my sentence, saying exactly what I had intended to. It was very encouraging to find ourselves concluding the meeting with such a level of understanding and agreement.
Throughout the Bible we come across people who are not part of God's people and yet go out of their way to help the purposes of the kingdom. Jethro the Midianite priest and Moses' father in law (Exodus 18); Rahab the prostitute from Jericho (Joshua 2); Ruth the Moabitess and daughter-in-law of Naomi (Ruth 1); Cyrus the king of Persia who authorised the rebuilding of the Temple (Ezra 1); the centurion who built the Capernaum synagogue (Luke 7); Publius the Maltese chief official (Acts 28); and many others. I believe that God's favour is on us and our project, and that we are now experiencing similar such help.