Public Inquiry on the future of the Whitechapel Bell Foundry

6th – 28th October 2020
10am
Online event through Microsoft Teams

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On the 6 October 2020 a planning inquiry commenced regarding the Whitechapel Bell Foundry, 32-34 Whitechapel Road, 2 Fieldgate Street and land to the rear (planning application reference numbers PA/19/00008 and PA/19/00009).

Your support and participation are needed more than ever: this is the chance make your voice heard and prevent the Whitechapel Bell Foundry from becoming a boutique-hotel based on the model of Soho House. The caterer identified by Raycliff (who will occupy a significant part of the historic building if the planning decision is upheld) is the Major Food Group who run 22 themed-restaurants in the US and were responsible for the controversial redesign of the Landmark protected restaurant in the Seagram building in New York, described as ‘one of the greatest modernist buildings ever built’.

As Edgar Bronfman Jr, former Chief Executive of the Seagram Company said:
"What is at stake here is whether ownership trumps preservation, whether deception triumphs over transparency and whether the wealth, power and influence of a building's proprietors can trample both the fundamental integrity of an historic space and the commission created to protect and preserve such spaces.’’

Public Inquiry dates

Please view the schedule for who will be covering which sessions of the inquiry below. These dates may be subject to change and updated, as the programme develops.

- The public inquiry began on 6 October with evidence given by the applicant's architect on the proposed designs and planning proposal. This was followed by a site visit to the foundry by the inspector on 7 October.

- On the 8 and 9 October, the public inquiry heard evidence from the applicant, Raycliff Whitechapel LLP.

- On the 13 October, evidence was heard from Historic England and Tower Hamlets Council.

- The 14, 15 and 16 October were for Re-Form Heritage and their team to put forward evidence for their alternative approach to bring about a viable future for the site as a working bell foundry. Re-Form Heritage and the Factum Foundation along with their planning consultants Lichfields and their expert heritage advisor Dr Nigel Barker-Mills, explained how the site could be owned and occupied.

- After a break the inquiry will reconvene on the 27 October for the public to be given the opportunity to read out their submitted statements and/or to address the Inspector.

- The 28 October will be for closing speeches by the respective QCs, with a formal decision on the planning application anticipated to be made in 2021.

 

Access to relevant documents

Read all the documentation relating to the inquiry on the Tower Hamlet Council’s website here. Documents will remain accessible until the outcome of the inquiry is published.

 

Listening to the inquiry

On inquiry sitting days (6-9 October, 13-16 October and 27-28 October) you will be able to follow the proceedings here: Join Microsoft Teams meeting

Important information about privacy and technical information can be found here.

 

Getting in touch with the Planning Inspectorate

If you want to get in touch with the inspectorate with further questions, to make a written statement or ask to speak on the 27 October – when the public inquiry is open to third parties to contribute – please contact the Government’s Planning Inspectorate at Elizabeth.Humphrey@planninginspectorate.gov.uk

 

For media enquiries

Please email info@factumfoundation.org and your email will be forwarded to Re-Form's communications partner.


“The future of bell making is bright. The churches are no longer the main commissioners of bells but the market is diversifying and new opportunities exist around the world, from courtyard houses in China via the use of scanning and re-making for preservation to the creation of bell-related editions with artists.”
Adam Lowe
founder of Factum Foundation

Over the past years, Factum Foundation and Re-Form Heritage have been fighting to demonstrate that a viable future, answering local and international needs, is possible for the Whitechapel Bell Foundry. It is possible to reinvigorate the site and turn it into a working foundry again, specialising in the production of bells and works of art, together with a 3D and acoustic archive and research centre which will conduct bell recording, undertake research into historic casting methods, and develop machine learning predictive software to assist in the preservation of bells around the country and beyond.

We want to thank all 27,000 people who signed the petition, our supporters in the Mosque, the readers of the Spitalfield’s Life blog, and all those who were present during the protests and worked with us to reach this critical stage of our campaign to preserve and revitalise Britain’s oldest single-purpose industrial building.

The bells cast at Whitechapel are the voices of nations: they mark the world’s celebrations and sorrows, representing principles of emancipation, freedom of expression and justice. These buildings, and the skills that have for centuries been honed within them, represent some of the most important intangible cultural heritage in Britain.


For those interested in supporting the initiative to save and revitalise the Bell Foundry in Whitechapel, there are a number of ways to be of assistance beyond attending the Inquiry:

  • Visit and share the website Save the Whitechapel Bell Foundry with your contacts.
  • Here you can sign a petition to register your support. We also need donations to fight the public inquiry. Winning the Public Inquiry is the first step. After this, we have to acquire the building and carry out our ambitious plans. By visiting www.savethewhitechapelbellfoundry.com and clicking on “Donate”, you will be redirected to Re-Form’s website where it is possible to make a donation, filling the amount of your choice.
  • Further information is available on Spitalfields Life, the inspirational blog devoted to life in the East End
  • Visit Factum Foundation’s online page and see the development of the fight to keep the site as a working bell foundry.
  • We are also looking for people in historic and preservation societies who are interested in learning how new technology can help create an archive of various types of information that will help revitalise interest in bells, their production and their digital and physical restoration. We need your support to build a network that will allow these noble objects to be valued and appreciated. Write to info@factumfoundation.org

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