Whitechapel Bell Foundry (111)

The Gentle Author is quite rightly keeping the fate of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry in the public eye (see below).

I had myself noticed last time I passed that it looks increasingly dilapidated. There is a risk that the current owner, Raycliff Estates, is allowing it to deteriorate in order to make Tower Hamlets more flexible about its future use, because at the moment there is a requirement that some portion of it is turned back into a bell foundry, which obviously limits its commercial value.

What is frustrating is that the London Bell Foundry has a well worked out and commercially viable business plan to put back the foundry element, whilst at the same time modernising the work that is done in the foundry by the use of new (and clean) technology.

This would require Raycliff to lease the foundry to the London Bell Foundry or agree to its sale. But there is said to be an alternative client who has expressed interest. It will be interesting to find out who this client is and what their plans are, since there is no evidence yet of them seeking planning permission. And planning permission would be conditional on reinstating a foundry.

Tower Hamlets should, of course, intervene. It was their planning department which supported the scheme to turn the building into a hotel. Tower Hamlets must have a tourism strategy. There are not so many buildings of international significance which could become tourist attractions so close to the City. The New Town Hall is just up the road. Perhaps the Chief Executive could convene a meeting of interested parties to see if there is a workable solution ? Or could Historic England do this ? Someone should.



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