Friday 3 December 11.25am: Attlee Room (redacted) City Council offices. You’d think the £620 our client, Josh Bang, paid upfront for pre-app meeting would have bought us more than filthy coffee and a brusque brush-off from the deputy chief planner.

Agent P

But no, apparently the political wind has shifted. Purpose of today’s meeting? ‘You don’t mind if we go up to 10 storeys, do you Mr Planner.” He sits there stony-faced, flanked by two uncomfortable lieutenants.

Posh Girl pitched the redevelopment under discussion to Josh three years ago. Level the four-storey 1980s offices. Treble the density by doubling up to eight floors on a bigger footprint. Posh Girl had met a very different Mr Planner at Mipim in 2018. A chat in the only quiet corner of the London Stand about the deal Josh was about to commit was met with a smiling “sure, 10 floors should be fine. Bloody street needs livening up. Fancy a beer in the Majestic?”

Today Mr P says, straight-faced: “Why don’t you refurbish? This is now the preferred option of our councillors. Voters think new and bigger is bad for the planet.” Judas! Josh sits, frozen.

How to explain this to his investors – and the bank that lent 80% of the purchase price, even though the leases expire in 2022.