I have been encouraged to illustrate my posts about the Bell Foundry with more photographs. The reason I don’t is because, much as I love the many photographs which have surfaced during the long campaign to save it, I am always wary of copyright and don’t like reproducing things without permission.
But it encouraged me to go back to some photographs I took in July 2019 when a concert was held in the back section of the Foundry which the Planning Inspector regards as totally worthless and sees no reason to spare from demolition, as is proposed in its redevelopment. It has made me recognise that planning law pays no attention, and perhaps cannot, to patina, to the slow accumulation of relics of history, which help to give a building its character. Instead, those who support the Foundry’s redevelopment, including, most remarkably, Historic England, think that it will be in some way ‘better’ if it is restored and improved, poshed up into a modern-day simulacrum of its former self. So, they welcome the intervention of the developer, who will put money into its restoration and turn it into something entirely different from what it was – more modern, more contemporary, serving cappuccinos instead of making things, which is the modern way. But they seem to have entirely forgotten, and disregard, the generations of writers and historians from William Morris onwards who have been hostile to this form of restoration, which disregards the fabric and texture of buildings, the details of construction which make them come alive, and the relics of former use, old machinery as well as bricks.
In July 2019, the fabric of the building was still substantially intact and it would still be relatively easy for someone, preferably Factum Arte, to move in to keep its continuity alive as a working environment, not as a wine bar.
Do the planners not see that there is a difference ?