Plans for £3.3 million transformation of Bow and Roman Road

Transport for London (Tfl) has announced this week that Roman Road will be entirely transformed with a £3.3million funding bid, improving traffic infrastructure and open spaces.

Plans show that the fund will be used to create wider pedestrian walkways, transform the Roman Road Car Park, put in trees along the high street, and create a one-way single lane down Roman Road to decrease congestion. There will be more cycle and public transport facilities to create a healthier high street.

The bid is part of a multi-million pound Liveable Neighbourhoods programme across London, which aims to cut air pollution and increase public transport journeys in London to 80 per cent by 2041.

The announcement from Tfl comes after five years of campaigning for high street improvements from Roman Road Trust, a local community development organisation.

‘Roman Road Trust welcomes this announcement, which is fantastic news for Roman Road’ says Holly Stout, Chair of Roman Road Trust. ‘We intend to continue to work with the Council as plans develop.

The big vision for Bow

The proposed plans will prioritise pedestrians over cars along Roman Road. Pavements will be widened allowing for new trees to be planted and space for cafe seating, something that will support Roman Road’s growing cafe scene.

Bus priority improvements will be made at St Stephens Road/Roman Road to improve the reliability of bus services and reduce the congestion experienced on St Stephens Road. St. Stephen’s Road improvements will feature continuous footways while plans for Old Ford Road include improved road safety and cycling measures.

Modal filters will reduce traffic on residential streets throughout the area, and a key aspect is to remove the potential for rat running through Coborn Road and Tredegar Road.

‘We want Tower Hamlets to become one of the most cycle and pedestrian friendly boroughs in London,’ says Councillor David Edgar, Cabinet Member for Environment. ‘New pocket parks and revamped public spaces will improve air quality and make local streets more attractive places, helping support local high streets.’

Congestion and the number 8 bus on Roman Road
Congestion and the much loved number 8 bus on Roman Road
Liveable Neighbourhood visualisation of Roman Road, Bow, East London
The same view re-imagined with wider pavements

As well as helping to create a healthier high street, TfL research predicts this an improved street scene will encourage more shoppers to the high street improving footfall to Roman Road businesses and increasing sales by up to 30 per cent.

Plans of this magnitude will no doubt have a significant impact on traffic, bus routes and car use in Bow.

‘As with all such ideas there is a judicious balance needed between allowing people to travel legitimately in the area, and making changes which significantly improve the local environment, for example by altering the ‘road hierarchy’ reducing unhelpful behaviour such as ‘rat-running’, says Mayor of Tower Hamlets, John Biggs.

‘We have seen examples in Waltham Forest and other boroughs, and the improved environment from a well-designed scheme is striking. This is serious money, and the Councillors and I are ambitious for this to work and help to transform the area.’

‘Unlike what has been done in Waltham Forest, this scheme will face a tougher challenge because of the scale of through traffic, and the poorer environmental and air quality,’ says Biggs.

Biggs goes on to reassure that plans are still subject to public consultation. ‘There will be detailed consultation, and I want the community to be involved in the design where we can,’ says Biggs.

Plans for one-way Roman Road

The proposed plans will see Roman Road turned into a one-way street, discouraging vehicles from using Roman Road as a rat run to the A12.

Increased congestion along Roman Road, St Stephen’s Road and Tredegar Road since the Cycle Superhighway removed the right turn from Burdett Road into Bow Road, is one of the biggest concerns for local residents, according to Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Forum.

Over the past three years the Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Forum has worked to develop a neighbourhood plan for Bow. Neighbourhood Plan are part of new legislation that allows local people to develop planning policies for their neighbourhood.

Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Forum was formed in 2016 and has sought to engage with individuals, groups and local businesses in the local community in order to create policies that respond to people in the Roman Road area of Bow.

‘Heavy commuter traffic along local roads to and from the A12 leading to congestion and air pollution, and poor routes for pedestrians and cyclists through the area have been highlighted as major concerns,’ according to local resident and Forum committee member Mike Mitchell.

A concern to locals is that a one-way road might present issues with business deliveries and bus routes like the beloved number 8 bus.

A one-way Roman Road may lay the foundations for a change in access to the A12, an idea that has been mooted by the Council in recent years as a way to stop Roman Road from being used as rat-run to the A12. It is unclear whether this is part of the longer term plans for the area.

‘The Tfl project is very welcome, as Bow has seen very little infrastructure investment in recent years, and it provides an opportunity to make some long-term improvements to the area.’ says Mitchell. ‘We need to guard against this funding leading to divisions and conflict that can dilute the effectiveness of this much needed investment.’

Val Whitehead, Bow West Councillor, has added, ‘We will be working with Tfl to ensure the changes will help reliability on our bus routes as this will be a concern to many residents.’

The removal of the Car Park

The plans will see the removal of the Roman Road Car Park to create an ‘open space’. The car park currently offers 24 parking bays on the junction of St Stephen’s Road and Roman Road, and charges £3.75 per hour.

Newly installed CEO of Roman Road Trust Janita Han, welcomes the replacement of the car park with an outdoor space, ‘Roman Road Trust has identified the car park as a key space at the heart of the high street that we believe could be better used to support the high street and local community.’

Roman Road Trust has been working with the community to demonstrate the potential use of the car park. Over the last five years it has held a series of events in the car park including Roman Road Festival, Christmas Fair, the weekly Yard Market, and community events including Queens Birthday Tea.

As part of their bid for Good Growth funding, Roman Road Trust conducted a Shopping and Transport survey in partnership with Queen Mary University that showed that most of the 200 respondents said they arrived to the high street arrived by foot, bike or public transport.

In 2014 Roman Road Trust partnered with Cass School of Architecture to build a mini-civic hub, a temporary structure called Roman Road Common Room on Ford Road adjacent to the car park. The Common Room has since been used to test ideas for a more permanent civic hub, perhaps on the open space that may now replace the car park?

‘Alongside other local community groups we hope to work with the council to develop a great community space on the car park, which considers the Common Room and the outdoor space as a cohesive whole.’ says Han.

Consultation and development

Though £3.3 million sounds like a considerable investment, London costs can quickly diminish such a fund, especially with a project as ambitious as this one. There is also the risk that a ‘top down’ approach doesn’t respond to the needs of the grassroots.

‘The bigger dream is to envision together a neighbourhood that we aspire to, and that we all want to live in’ says Han. ‘With enough funding and grassroots work with the locals it will be a successful revamp.’

To help the Tfl project meet the needs of the community, Roman Road Trust is developing Roman Road Neighbourhood Green Common Vision, an umbrella project that will pull together different local community groups’ agendas.

Community groups already engaging with the emerging Green Common Vision include Friends of Meath Gardens, Tower Hamlets Wheelers, Friends of Mile End Park, Friends of Victoria Park, Plastic-Free Roman Road, Roman Road Trust, and the Neighbourhood Forum.

Each community group presents an opportunity to integrate grassroots projects into Bow’s Liveable Neighbourhood plans, and to generate additional match funding.

How to have your say

We are lucky to live in a neighbourhood with a strong grassroots contingency and there are several ways you can get involved.

You can help shape micro-local planning policies by joining the Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Forum. They will be holding a workshop about the neighbourhood plan for Bow at its Annual General Meeting 2-4.30 pm on Saturday 27th  April at St Paul’s Church in St. Stephen’s Road.

If you are interested in seeding, leading or supporting green projects to help improve the built environment around Roman Road, become a Friend of Roman Road Trust and keep up-to-date with their Roman Road Neighbourhood Green Common Vision.

Roman Road LDN, your local news and culture magazine, will be following developments closely, so watch this space and subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed.

 


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Natasha Forrest

Natasha is a QMUL graduate who lives on Brick Lane.

16 thoughts on “Plans for £3.3 million transformation of Bow and Roman Road

  • March 8, 2019 at 9:11 am
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    I am absolutely livid to read this. And really disappointed that despite searching for exact plans, I cannot find anything more specific than this article online. (Real public awareness and availability there then).

    The congestion on Roman Road is caused by the no right turn implemented from Burdett Road to Mile End Road for no apparent reason, and the ridiculous traffic lights put in place at the Old Ford A12 junction at the time of the Olympics. The simple fix to the problem is to reverse these two decisions, instead of what? Pushing traffic further north to Old Ford Road. I know, let’s push it up one road more and make it Hackney’s problem. Great solution Tower Hamlets. (In a sarcastic voice, in case it is lost in writing).

    And I’m livid that this has come about because a micro group of local residents (around 50 from what I can see) have been pushing for it. Where’s the consultation with all the residents? Where are the letters through the doors? Where are the public posters? As someone who lives and works in Bow (and has lived here and paid Council Tax here for the last 15 years) I would expect to have come across at least SOME form official of communication about this before now.

    One final side note – why does the car park on Roman Road need turning into a green space? We have a green space 100ms up the road in the form of the Daisy Park and we have another green space a few streets away at the Adventure Playground and of course Victoria Park just a stone’s throw away.

    For residents like me, who have a car, and pay council tax like so many others, but because of discriminatory council policy are not allowed to park on council streets without paying for it (because apparently access to a private driveway means I am not allowed to get a Tower Hamlets’ Resident’s Parking permit, even though I’m a resident), it means there’s 20 odd less places where I can pay the council for the privilege of parking on my own high street, to invest in the local economy and purchase from local shops.

    Reply
    • March 19, 2019 at 4:19 pm
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      I agree with your points, Sara.
      I was very surprised to receive this – it is the first I have heard of it.
      Of course, it is a good idea to stop roads in the area from being rat-runs for out-of-area traffic, and, of course, we all have an interest in reducing pollution.
      I have particular concerns, however, about what the plans will do for ease of travel for residents within our area. As I wrote at the time to Tfl, restricting the right turn from Burdett Road into Bow Road has led inevitably to more traffic turning right into Roman Road (as well as to dangerous u-turns on Grove Road). That decision should be reversed (with a suitably improved traffic management system to protect cyclists), so that through traffic can again travel down what is the main A11 (Bow Road) to the A12.
      Whilst it is not explicitly stated, it would seem that the potential changes to traffic flow in Roman Road could mean restricting the right turn from Grove Road i.e. a one-way system from East to West. All this will do is push the traffic further north to Old Ford Road, causing even longer delays than at present along that road and into Parnell Road. (By the way, this is still Tower Hamlets.)
      Coborn Road and Tredegar Road are mentioned as being areas that might be subject to ‘modal filtering’. This suggests that there might be no possibility of travelling straight down St Stephen’s Road from the direction of Old Ford Road to Tredegar Road. I hope that such a restriction would not apply to residents, forcing us to always travel north up St Stephens Road, turning right onto Old Ford Road and right onto Parnell Road to reach the A12. I have already referred to the existing traffic problems on that route.
      Local residents and businesses have legitimate reasons to drive in the area. Will changes take these needs into account? (And let me state that I use public transport and/or walk for local trips, trips into the centre of London, trips across London and trips to Stratford. I do need to leave the area by car sometimes though!)
      I appreciate there is to be a consultation meeting in April. However, past experience suggests plans will be well-formed by then. I think those of us with concerns need to make those concerns known well before the meeting. So who at the Council/TfL should we contact with concerns before that consultation meeting?

      Reply
  • March 8, 2019 at 9:45 am
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    Oh my goodness!
    What moron came up with this
    So to serve a few visitors coming down Roman of a Saturday, so they can sit outside a cafe with trees dig into the narrow pavements in front of residents windows
    The offer is now disruption to every local resident and shop and business within the proposed area.
    For many years the dragging down of the area and the starvation of building the local infrastructure for the betterment of the locals and visitors by firstly the removal of the parking that once was available to bring people and families to the area.
    The parking situation that was called into the area and local residents and businesses appealed then the the incumbent council and onna king the MP who sold us down the river by enforcing parking warden and clamping
    I remember being one of the locals presenting a petition of over ten thousand signatures to appeal that would not occur hundreds marched to the party office in Cambridge heath road with a coffin showing her that this parking will kill the area
    She would not even come out of her office to accept it
    Then came the cuts and removal of the public loos
    The intention to kill the Roman then for the sake of a few vegans Moving into the area to make it kike a piazza sorry This ridiculous idea will not work
    All the new faces who arrive for a short while buy up property and sell up and go are not the ones that live here so decisions like this pathetic one of removal of the only car park to make a bit of seating is unbelievable
    The Victoria park is two mins walk. Let them go sit there

    Reply
    • March 8, 2019 at 11:53 am
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      I think this is a really good plan. So much of the traffic coming through the Roman Road area is people driving from the A12 into Hackney. We are just getting the pollution for no benefit.
      More work needs to be done and plans worked up with the local community, but its a really good start. I’d love to see more kids playing out in the street and more walking and cycling for everyone

      Reply
      • March 8, 2019 at 6:51 pm
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        As a business owner of a shop which has been on Roman Road for over 67 years I don’t see how this design which is to help the cafes, which we see come and go, have a bit of seating which is only really beneficial a couple months of the year, helps any other businesses? And let’s not forget tower hamlets charge for everything if we want the lights on above the shop we have to pay a lighting fee so all the cafes that will have seating your going to charge them for the privilege? How do we get our deliveries in? We sell heavy materials and 3m Lengths of wood are you going to get my customers to walk all the way home with 8 tins off paint ? And the survey about most people travel by walking, public transport or cycle I’d like to see that, as we have 70% of our customers come by car or cab? If you take away the parking aswell how far have my customers who park have to walk with 80 litres of compost to put in their car? Agreeing with another readers comment I noticed that they mentioned the protest about the parking permits which I also attended they didn’t listen to that so what makes the meeting in April even worth having when it’s not like there going to take peoples opinions into consideration. And the fact that there no information on it, put up posters and post letters tell everyone about the meeting and than you will get true opinions of locals. So when these trees grow and the roots make the road and pavement uneven how long will it take to fix that and how many old people need to hurt them selves for it to become and issue ? If it’s helping the businesses where can owners and staff even park if you take the parking on the road and the car park away ? I think it need a hell of alot more consideration? Lastly when theres accidents in local areas and traffic needs redirecting how is that possible if main roads are coming oneways and some roads being completely blocked off?

        Reply
  • March 8, 2019 at 12:36 pm
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    Not sure how one way traffic helps the high street. Does this mean the buses (8 and 339) will only run one way up Roman Road? If so what about residents, older people, and those with accessibility issues that need a bus to take them down as well as up Roman Road? Strange idea!

    Reply
  • March 8, 2019 at 8:18 pm
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    What about the Bethnal Green end of Roman Road,do we just pay the same rates and get forgotten about(very angry business owner)

    Reply
  • March 8, 2019 at 9:22 pm
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    Great idea, cleaner air, nicer public spaces sounds great. More room to walk (might be able to walk more easily to the shops) and a bike route, what’s not to like?! We need less congestion, fewer people driving at high speed down our streets, and less pollution which we all have to breath.

    Reply
    • March 9, 2019 at 11:30 am
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      It’s not good at all, The no right turn at Mile End Road Junction as caused the increased in traffic just smaller roads. They should not have done that 3 years ago. This will cause more congestion in the area not solve it.

      All it will do it is force drivers to use East India Dock Road and Devon’s Road a lot more to fight their way out of London and towards Essex

      Reply
  • March 9, 2019 at 10:36 am
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    We need to oppose this vanity project now before it is too late! A group of self centered individuals trying to create a hipsters’s paradise by redirecting traffic away from their homes without any consideration for other residents and local businesses.

    The rerouting of buses 8 and 339 would be catastrophic for elderely people shopping in Roman Road Market and Tesco.

    It is a very short term strategy to promote cafes over long lasting local businesses.

    The secrecy of this project says it all. I suggest a counter action under Save Bow banner at mayor@towerhamlets.gov.uk

    Reply
  • March 9, 2019 at 11:40 am
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    Since they put in place a no right turn at the Mile End road Junction no one could access Bow Road from Burdett road anymore. People have been forced to use smaller roads ever since.

    Roman Road and Devon’s Road have been hit heavily since they made that stupid decision and also created an accident hot spot with people throwing U turns on Grove road opposite the bus stand because they don’t want to sit in traffic that as been artificially created by local government closing roads and forcing no right turns onto people.

    Now they want to make Roman Road one way is getting beyond a joke. All this will do in the long run is to create more traffic in the area. It will create a knock on effect on roads like Commercial Road and East India Road towards Blackwell Tunnel and again Devon’s and Campbell Road will also feel the effects of increased traffic as people fight their way back towards the A12.

    Terrible planning from TFL and also what about the Bus routes running long Roman Road? 8 and 339? How would they work out going westbound?

    Typical of people who don’t live in the area, Create a mess but don’t have to live with it.

    Reply
  • March 11, 2019 at 10:33 pm
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    Very promising proposals. I have lived just off Roman Road for 25 years and the volume of commuter traffic and speeding vehicles on our high street has just got worse and worse with each passing year. It’s dangerous and we all know that pollution levels in London are illegal and killing thousands of people each year. We simply can’t go on like this. Traffic heading for the A12, or M11, should not be rat running along Roman Road, or Old Ford Road for that matter. If these proposals cut down on commuter traffic and pollution they will be a great improvement to this area for everyone who lives here, but I agree that the banned turns at Mile End junction will need to be looked at to ensure they do not compromise the plans. Making Roman Road one-way does not have to rule out cars being able to park to pick up from shops, in fact the proposals could lead to more parking space being made available. We all want to support our local shops, and if the Roman becomes a more attractive destination for shoppers and visitors because it’s no longer a polluted rat run then local businesses should benefit. As for the buses, the number 8 and the 339 will presumably run in the other direction along Old Ford Road which is a relatively short walk from Roman Road. Of course the proposals will need to take into account the needs of those residents with restricted mobility, but removing cars and creating more space for pedestrians/cyclists and other vulnerable road users are bound to help those with disabilities etc. I look forward to the consultation.

    Reply
  • March 12, 2019 at 9:00 am
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    This is a ridiculous idea. Why are plans being pushed to make Roman Road one way when this traffic system is discredited. It is a town centre killer. A one way system affects visibility all traders on the far side of the road as they can’t attract passing trade and drivers can’t see them. It increases the speed of traffic and is much more dangerous to pedestrians crossing as they face traffic coming from behind. Go to a Swanage or Rye if you want to see how a one way system adversely affect town centres. Even Newham has got rid of the worst features of its one way system.

    And as for getting rid of the car park! It will be turned into flats in no time.

    Proper loading bays instead of trees and better traffic enforcement including cracking down on the ridiculous number of disabled parking permits would help. Stopping flat dwellers from rubbish bins as their private refuse collection would improve the way things look. Also the no right turn at Mile End should be reversed.

    Reply
  • March 13, 2019 at 11:57 am
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    Sounds like a great idea – more space and better air!

    Reply
  • March 15, 2019 at 5:31 pm
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    What an exciting prospect; about time someone did something about all the through traffic which speeds down the Roman, leaving nothing but dirty air behind it.

    Worth thinking hard about the one way though – i wonder if might be better to keep two way, but really stop our neighborhood being a rat run through to the A12.
    We need to prioritise buses, walking and cycling.

    Reply
  • March 20, 2019 at 8:36 pm
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    If there is to be a consultation at the AGM in April I am presuming that prior to this date there will be a detailed plan made available to all residents as to what is involved for all the streets in the area, not just Roman Road.

    There would need to be an impact assessment as to how the traffic no longer able to access Roman Road would affect other roads and also how the new Hackney to Canary Wharf cycle superhighway will affect traffic.

    Reply

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