It will be well known to readers of my blog that I am not a big fan of Tower Hamlets and its planning policies, not least for the decision of its planning committee to grant permission for redevelopment of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, the most priceless historical asset which is now being allowed to decay unused (https://thecritic.co.uk/issues/february-2023/the-beastly-east/).
But, I cannot disguise that I am very impressed by the redevelopment of the old London Hospital building which was in a terrible state of decay into the new Tower Hamlets Town Hall. It has been done by AHMM and is a clever mix of the new and the old – restoring the main façade, keeping the porte-cochère, but adding what is essentially all new build at the back, but done with character and including a Council Chamber where we can all go and listen to debates.
It opened apparently without fanfare on Monday and already looks incredibly well used, with loads of places to park your bike and a good sense of relationship to the street, with a park being planned behind.
Now, Mayor Rahman and his planning committee need to address what is to happen to the Bell Foundry. Compulsory purchase ? They have demonstrated that they are capable of imaginative redevelopment. Please can they apply these skills to the development of the Bell Foundry as a Centre for Craft Skills, combining new and old technology ?