Even in Anglesey I fret, as the year comes to an end, on the fate of the Bell Foundry.
I have been helped by Charles O’Brien, the chairman of the London Advisory Committee (and, by an odd coincidence, the author of the entry on the Bell Foundry in the revised edition of Pevsner’s London East) to see that it was difficult for Historic England to intervene at the time the Bell Foundry was sold, since it was sold behind their back with no request for help.
But this does not answer the core question. What advice did they take on whether or not the Bell Foundry could be maintained as a bell foundry before they permitted (and, indeed, have encouraged) a change-of-use, as they were legally required to do ? Did they seek advice from other foundries as to whether there were ways and means of making the Bell Foundry economically viable ? Did they pay attention to the new markets for bells opening up in China ? Or did they take the word of the Hughes family only that a Bell Foundry was no longer economically viable ?
If, as is hoped, Robert Jenrick calls the planning decision in for review, this would give an opportunity for a more forensic legal examination of what advice Historic England received and sought on the opportunities for maintaining the operation intact before taking the golden shilling of a New York venture capitalist and not merely allowing, but supporting, it being turned instead into a boutique hotel.
Happy New Year !