The Vision for Roman Road and Roman Road Market

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The RRRBA held a public workshop at St Paul’s Church in spring 2013 to which hundreds of local residents came and shared their wishes for Roman Road. From that the RRRBA created a guideline for the future –  The Vision.

Clock on white tiled wall
The Vision is a long-term document that will influence planning and policies for Roman Road and Roman Road Market over time. It will be reviewed and updated at regular intervals © Georgia Patsouraki

The Vision is based on the principle that, if Roman Road is to be successful then it needs to serve the people who live on its doorstep. These are the people who are most likely to use the Roman Road and spend their money in its shops, cafés and businesses. If the Roman Road can evolve to meet their needs, they will shop and spend time and money locally, supporting thriving businesses and a regenerating Roman Road.

The Vision is a long-term document. It is not about changing the Roman Road overnight, rather influencing many decisions over time. It’s meant to be a handy reference guide so that the voice of local people can be properly factored into decision-making. Some parts of the vision do mean a change of direction for the Roman Road but this has come from the community and is based on the very clear recognition that the Roman Road as it is currently just isn’t working and a change of direction is needed to break the spiral of decline.

The Vision is the product of contributions from hundreds of local residents and traders. It should form the basis of the rebirth of the Roman Road.

The RRRBA intends to review and refresh  The Vision at regular intervals.

Roman Road Vision: The Ten Points

1. The community’s vision is for Roman Road, E3 to once again be the thriving heart and pride of our community. It will be economically successful and will cater to the diverse shopping, cultural, employment, learning and leisure needs of the whole community.

2. It will be a place where local residents enjoy shopping regularly, particularly for quality fresh food, as well as for clothes, homeware, gifts etc. It will provide all of the key services people expect from a local centre, inc. a post office, banks, cash-points, dry cleaners, chemist, hairdressers etc. Council services, such as the One Stop Shop and the Idea Store, will continue to be located here.

3. The vast majority of shops will be independent, supported by a very small number of key high street chains in anchor positions, such as a supermarket. The market will be an integral part of the Roman Road and will work in partnership with local shops, better meeting the needs of local residents. It will have a strong retail offer and identity in its own right and will provide a way for new business to start trading on the Roman Road.

4. Fashion will be still be an important part of the retail offer on the Roman Road and the market’s heritage as one of London’s leading fashion markets will be celebrated. Nonetheless, shopping habits are changing, with people shopping more online, and local competition from Canary Wharf and Westfield growing. This means that the Roman Road market will have to diversify, reducing the overall amount of fashion on sale. Some fashion will be replaced with other goods that will attract a wider range of shoppers to the market, including those with more disposable income. Equally, the fashion on sale will have to be more diverse, including for example menswear, childrenswear and independent labels, and will be at a range of prices.

5. Food will be an important part of Roman Road’s ‘offer’ and will help encourage local residents to shop locally. A supermarket will anchor the Roman Road’s food offer, providing access for all residents to a full range of quality food at reasonable prices. It will be supported by a range of market stalls and shops selling a wide variety of good quality food, at a variety of prices, including lower cost and more premium offers. This will include a butcher, a baker in the Western half of the road, and a broader range of speciality and destination stalls and shops.

6. The high turn-over of new business start-ups will be reduced as Roman Road becomes a more attractive location for experienced business people, whilst still providing an opportunity for those who want to start out. The overall quality and resilience of the independent shops will improve markedly, with training, business advice and support provided where necessary. Roman Road will have its own ‘brand’ and will be well marketed, to attract shoppers and visitors.

7. The Roman Road will be a social place, with a range of places to meet and eat, including cafes and family restaurants that are open in the evening, animating the Road after dark. Street food stalls on the market will ensure the Roman Road is a destination – but the proportion of unhealthy food outlets – such as fried chicken shops for example – will decrease. The Roman Road will offer people a range of activities – for example, evening classes, yoga, children’s play – that will bring people to the area. One-off events – such as the return of the Roman Road Festival – will provide entertainment, increase footfall and bring new visitors to the Roman Road.

8. The Roman Road will be a strong driver of the local economy, providing jobs for local people and supporting profitable local businesses As retail habits change – with more people shopping online or at large shopping centres such as Westfield – Roman Road shops will stay current, relevant and attractive. Roman Road will also sensitively allow some space to be used for other, non-retail uses, including shared workspace, to make sure it adapts and stays alive. However, retail will continue to be the main part of the offer, maintaining a critical mass that can attract sufficient footfall.

9. Roman Road will serve the needs of the whole community, including families with children, older people, and those from different cultural backgrounds. Whilst the overall diversity and quality of the retail and service offer will be improved, making the Roman Road a destination of choice for the increasing number of affluent local professionals who currently go elsewhere, it will continue to meet the needs of those who rely on the Roman Road for access to low cost food and goods. However, this will never be an excuse for poor quality goods, shoddy presentation or bad service. Likewise, Roman Road shouldn’t be a centre where pawn shops, betting shops or high cost loan outlets are allowed to proliferate.

10. Physically the Roman Road will look well cared for and attractive to shoppers and prospective businesses alike. The pavement and road will be in good condition, and will be kept clean, with regular litter bins and rubbish collection, and no dumping. Street lighting will be good and the area will feel safe at night. There will be street trees and flowers. The market will be laid out to give shoppers easy access to both stalls and shops, and stalls will have a consistent ‘look’, for example by having similar tarpaulin or stalls. Shopfronts will be kept in good condition, and those in the Conservation Area will over time be restored to the historic wooden shopfronts, in line with the Council’s guidance. Shutters, where necessary, will not be solid and will be behind the glass. Parking will be kept under review, to meet the needs of residents, shoppers and businesses, but the priority will be to attract local people, making parking less critical for the Roman.