Whitechapel Bell Foundry (98)

There is still a surprising amount of activity on Twitter about the Bell Foundry, asking if anything can now be done.

The answer is that the government is clearly not minded to do anything. The ministers in the Department for Housing, Communities and Local Government have between them effectively cocked up – Chris Pincher by making a statement in the House of Lords which put the government at risk of judicial review by appearing to treat the Planning Inquiry as a foregone conclusion and Robert Jenrick by calling the decision in for an Inquiry, but then simply accommodating himself to the advice of the Inspector, in spite of tweeting to the effect that it was bad advice. This government will go to any lengths to keep statues on plinths, but no lengths to keep a Historic Bell foundry in operation. But then, it does seem to find empty symbols more appealing than real action (unless it is illicit).

So, now, I think there are only three possibilities.

The first is market forces. It is just possible that now is not the best moment to go forward with a grand scheme for a new hotel in an area which already has plenty of new hotels (the Inspector was caustic about the business plan for a Foundry, but didn’t look at the business plan for a hotel).

The second is that Bippy Siegal has a change-of-heart and realises – or is encouraged to realise – that he would win international friends and plaudits if he adjusted his plans to give more scope for the reinstatement of a proper full-blown foundry in the space currently proposed as a restaurant, making use of the equipment which he himself bought at auction, not just a little toy one as is currently proposed.

The third would be if new evidence came to light of something having been done wrong in the process of securing planning permission.

Otherwise, it’s stuffed.

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