I have now written to the Secretary of State as follows:-
Dear Secretary of State,
WHITECHAPEL BELL FOUNDRY
I am writing, as others are, to encourage you to call in the decision recently made by Tower Hamlets planning committee on the redevelopment of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry for review.
As you will probably be aware, this is an issue which has stirred deep passions both locally and internationally, because the Bell Foundry was the oldest company extant in Great Britain, still working in its eighteenth-century premises, which had been miraculously well-preserved and demonstrated what were essentially pre-industrial working practices. Visiting it was quite unlike anything else I have experienced either in this country or abroad.
Historic England have argued that the architectural fabric will be preserved when it is turned into an upmarket, boutique hotel. This is substantially true, apart from the demolition of the later rear section of the Foundry. But the atmosphere, the history, the inherited skills, the sense of generation after generation inhabiting the same environment to cast Big Ben and the Liberty Bell: these will be irreparably damaged and lost forever.
I very much hope that you will issue a holding direction so that the decision by Tower Hamlets planning committee, which was itself split and relied on the casting vote of its chairman, can be reviewed at the highest level.
Charles Saumarez Smith