All those of you who have dipped your pens in vitriol or are, even now, planning to do so, in all corners of the globe. Good sense has prevailed: the Secretary of State has realised that the decision to redevelop the Whitechapel Bell Foundry is too contentious to be left to Tower Hamlets planning committee on its own and has therefore issued a direction to the relevant planning officer instructing her ‘to enable him to consider whether he should direct under Section 77 of the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 that the applications should be referred to him for determination’. So, as I understand it, he hasn’t yet called it in for adjudication: merely indicated that a new Minister may, and I hope will, want to call it in for close scrutiny on grounds of its national importance, rather than allowing its development to be passed by the casting vote of the chairman of the planning committee, when the committee itself was divided in its verdict. So, the battle is far from won. In fact, it’s only just commenced. But there is a chink of hope entering into the discussion.
On second thoughts, do please still write, making the case for the importance of the Foundry. But temper what you say in the knowledge that the Minister may be minded to recognise the importance of the Foundry’s long and unique history above the case for its redevelopment and so, please focus on what the benefits of keeping its historic use as a Foundry, instead of bastardising it as a cafe, will be.