A chat with Daniel Moylan

I spoke to Daniel Moylan at lunch time today. Paul Finch recommended I speak to him a couple of months ago at Simon Thurley’s Wren Talk. Daniel told me it would have been because he’s is the only person Paul knows on Kensington Chelsea council.
When I mentioned that I am also speaking to Warwick Lightfoot, he made a comical remark about that being a good thing owing to the fact that Warwick is more important than he is.

I seemed to recall Warwick had mentioned Daniel when I met him at the FOHP Pimms ‘do in the summer. Daniel confirmed that he had been involved in the past but emphasised that he is now only a backbench councillor. He also emphasised that Warwick is really a good person to speak to and also recommended another person who I have also been in contact with: Tim Ahern, who I met most recently at ask Nick 7.

Daniel said there’s always been two things nobody’s ever been able to explain to him 1 What for? As in what’s it going to be used for in the end? (And therefore why it’d be worth spending a lot of money on) and 2 When to? ie, why restore it to 1939 rather than 1739? And what exactly does rebuild mean, technically? It could even be a collection of white boxes.

Although I didn’t get it across very succinctly, I tried to paint him a picture of the learning opportunities of a 25 year community restoration process. I agreed that even though the answer to its final use is not urgent, it is critical. Toward the end of the conversation Daniel posed the “what for” question in a more nuanced way: You can always find a use for a building, but that is not the same as answering the question “Why would you restore it (Holland House)?”

As a parting thought he mentioned that we don’t have enough romantic ruins in London and that there was nothing groundbreaking or even very interesting about Holland House. I think he was just teasing me with that though because when I replied that I thought it could be so much more than the romantic ruins he said he was sure it could be too.

He said he still wanted to know the answer to his question and I replied that I also wanted to know and was intent on finding out.

Finally he said he wouldn’t start and 25 a journey without knowing the answer first.

I said it might be fun

With a chuckle he agreed that it might be, then he wished me good luck and we said goodbye.

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