Save our shops: 459 Roman Road, formerly Arbers

posted in: Community | 6

Join the RRRBA’s campaign to stop 459 Roman Road, formerly Arbers, from being turned into residential flats by property developers. Save our shops.

Save Our Shops: 459 Roman Road, formerly Arbers stationery
Save Our Shops: 459 Roman Road, formerly Arbers printing works
6 February 2015 UPDATE

Following an unprecedented number of objections, the planning department has agreed to extend the deadline until next week.

With enough local support, we hope the planning department will look into how else it can help stop developers from threatening Roman Road’s high street and heritage. Bow’s recent influx of property developers in the last two years means many retail shops on Roman Road have already been reduced to make room for  flats – just a few are 422, 369A, 598 and 365.

So please keep the objections flowing in. The historic Arbers, printers to the Suffragettes, may have closed down, but it may yet play its most important role in Roman Road’s history – it may help stop other shops from being extinguished, and keep Roman Road, and high streets like it across the country, from going dark.

4 February 2015

People keep asking us what’s happening to Arber’s, the shop at 459 that until last year has traded as a family stationers for 117 years.

Well now we know. Two planning applications submitted by the developer show they want to turn most of the shop into a flat and build a whole house in the back yard. The shop would be just 24 square metres (the average living room is 17m2) and would have its door set back from the street.

Even without its amazing history, 459 Roman Road is a crucial shop – it is a full size unit with basement storage and a wonderful original wooden shop front, in a successful row of shops. The Roman Road Resident and Business Association (RRRBA) has been approached by several great businesses recently wanting to open shops on the Roman, but unable to find big enough units.

So, help us object to this proposal, and save this wonderful shop.

Please add your name and address to the letter below and send it to the following email address, remembering to CC us so that we can record the number of objections submitted.

ACT NOW!  The deadline for objections is Friday 6th February.

Thank you.


Dear Mr McCormack

I wish to OBJECT to application PA/14/03669 to convert retail floorspace into a one bedroom maisonette on the ground floor and basement of 459 Roman Road.

The application, if granted, would result in the unacceptable loss of over half of the available A1 ground floor retail floorspace at the unit, from 52 square metres to 24 square metres and all of the basement floorspace, as well as ancillary storage and servicing areas to the rear.

The proposal would also reduce the unit in both width (as an access corridor to the residential flat above would be carved out of the shop space) and depth (from the full depth of the building currently to less than half in the proposal). It would also move the entrance to the shop from a street front door to an internal door, sharing a street door with the residential unit above – an arrangement which is likely to make the unit even less attractive for a retail business.

I believe that the reduction of the retail unit to this size would in all probability make it unviable for most retail use. Where similar residential conversions have been permitted elsewhere on the Roman Road, the resulting retail units have been too small to let and have either been left empty or granted change of use.

This would have an unacceptable detrimental impact on the vitality and viability of the designated Roman Road East District Town Centre and undermine the Council’s town centre hierarchy, contrary to the principles of the National Planning Policy Framework (2012), policy 2.15 of the London Plan (2011), policy SP01 of the Core Strategy (2010) and policy DM1 of the Managing Development Document (2013).

These policies seek to safeguard and enhance the vitality and viability of town centres by protecting and promoting commercial uses, and place town centres at the heart of local communities. In particular, policy SP01(4) seeks to maintain, focus and increase the supply of retail floorspace in Roman Road and policy DM1(7) seeks to ensure adequate servicing arrangements as well as adequate depth and width of retail units.

For these reasons, and because I want the Roman Road to be a succesful, thriving high street, I request that you REFUSE this application.

Yours sincerely


6 Responses

  1. Tracie Angiolini

    I can’t seem to copy and paste the letter into my e-mail. Am I being an idiot? I’d love to send an objection. Can you help?

  2. James Hardiman

    Arbers, famous for being printers to the Suffragette movement, is a proper shop with space for commercial activity , it should not be squeezed into a space too small for proper commercial activity ,with no storage or display space.Conversion to residential use is not a good use of the space..The shops in Roman Road should be encouraged, not obliterated.

  3. emma lloyd

    I object to this application as a resident of bow and want to see this remain as a shop premises in keeping with it’s history and the local area

  4. I noticed they removed as much of the original interior as possible to make it less desirable as a shop,

  5. Paul Wallis

    Roman Road has always been a bustling retail trading area with a rich and diverse history which is perfectly encapsulated in this retail unit. It should remain a entail space and a provide a new retail opportunity for another small, local business just as it served Arber & Co for so many many years. I OBJECT to this application.