Every fortnight I attend a Zoom meeting about the current state of the plans for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry.
This week the key issue was whether or not the recent controversy surrounding the granting of planning permission to Richard Desmond’s plans for housing on the Isle of Dogs will in any way influence the views of the planning inspector who will be responsible for the planning enquiry opening on October 6th. Two things may arise. The first is the question as to whether or not Whitechapel will need a new luxury boutique hotel post-Coronavirus and whether or not it is going to be economically viable. Who are the tourists going to be who are going to want to swim in a tenth-story swimming pool overlooking the local mosque and pay Soho House rates when Soho House itself is rumoured to be in financial difficulties? The second is the extent to which the planning process is susceptible to lobbying and how far the current system is so heavily weighted towards developers who can afford to pay expensive planning consultants and political lobbyists, not to mention attend tory party fundraising dinners where a case can be put directly to the Secretary of State over coffee. Please keep October 6th. in your diary. There needs to be a show of public support for keeping the Foundry as a foundry and not allowing change-of-use.