Ten years ago Bow residents lost their only high street supermarket. As more delays are announced why is there still no sign of Tesco Metro opening?
Is Roman Road Tesco on list of stores to be closed or cancelled?
Tesco has announced it will close 43 stores across the UK, which it says are unprofitable. Bow residents and Roman Road businesses alike have been asking is the proposed Tesco on Gladstone Place is on this list.Following our enquiries, Tesco’s department of corporate affairs issued this statement:
I wanted to write to update you on our planned new Metro store in Gladstone Place, Bow.
As you will have read in the media, our performance as a business has fallen significantly short of where we would want it to be. As a result the financial resources we have available for new investment are severely constrained and we have had to critically review all current and future investment decisions.
Our absolute imperative has to be to protect the future of our business for the c.300,000 colleagues we employ in communities all over the UK. In recent weeks we have had to face up to some very tough decisions which affect many hard-working people. We don’t do that lightly and so it is with a heavy heart that we are announcing today that we are unable to proceed with 49 new planned store developments across the country.
I am conscious that you may see this news and be concerned about the future of our plans in Bow. However, I would like to reassure you that it remains our intention to open our planned store. We continue to believe that the store would provide a valued service to the local community and we know that many people are keenly anticipating the opening. We are looking forward to bringing new jobs and investment to Bow, and providing local customers with the best we have to offer.
We are not yet in a position to confirm an opening date as the landlord has not yet completed the overall development and we need to wait for this to be done before we are given the keys to the site. We will be sure to keep you closely updated on progress.
The RRRBA continue to lobby the Council about the ongoing delay and are requesting a meeting between the parties involved: the tenant Tesco, the developer Goldquest, and the owner Circle Housing.
After ten years why is there still no Tesco?
A decade ago, Roman Road Safeway, and it’s large car park, was part of a busy local shopping market providing a reliable place for people to pick up the weekly shop or last minute dinner.
When plans to demolish the supermarket and its car park were announced along with news that it was being replaced by a residential development of over 300 flats by Circle Housing (part of Circa) with only a smaller Tesco Metro replacing the large supermarket space, a large petition was started by local residents – but to no avail.
The closure of Safeway, after Morrisons took over, meant that residents had to use more expensive local alternatives or take the bus to Bethnal Green or Bromley-by-Bow to do their main supermarket shop.
Many believe that the lack of an ‘anchor’ shop to keep residents and visitors shopping on the Roman is one factor that has contributed to the increased number of empty shops on Roman Road over the last decade.
While some convenience stores on Roman Road have flourished with the absence of a supermarket, many residents were disappointed that the planned Tesco Metro store didn’t open sooner while the residential development was in planning and construction.
Finally, after long delays in development, the flats were completed this summer and people are moving in. But still no sign of the Tesco Metro.
Local Councillor Rachel Blake has been monitoring the progress of the development closely. “At first, local Councillors were told that the supermarket would open in autumn 2013, then early 2014, then July, then the autumn 2014, but it looks and feels like autumn is becoming winter and there’s still no sign of Tesco. We’ve even heard rumours it won’t open open until April 2015.”
“This continued uncertainty undermines all our efforts to keep the Roman thriving,” says Blake, “so I’ve written to the Council and Circle (the landlord) to get an explanation for the delay and an opening date that we can rely on. And, I’ll be asking what the plan B is. Anyone who is serious about the Roman understands that it needs a supermarket. “
With the recent announcement that Tesco has mothballed the a second big supermarket store in Cambridgeshire, rumours are rife as to whether the Tesco Metro will ever open in Bow. This has led to some local residents approaching alternative supermarket chain Aldi.
Tower Hamlets has no Aldi store so an Aldi store would attract Aldi fans from across Tower Hamlets potentially bringing more footfall than an ubiquitous Tesco Metro – perhaps the long catalogue of delays and disappointments that have surrounded the Old Ford/Tesco development on Roman Road may yet have a fortuitous ending.