Another Construction Site in Bow: Safeway, Roman Road

The diggers were out on Roman Road last week.  Behind the blue hoarding, nestled amongst Gladstone Place, Cardigan Road and Anglo Road, the former Safeway in Bow was leveled, in anticipation of the new Tesco Metro development.  Judging by the planning applications, this one appears to be predominantly a residential development, with some commercial space, but is anchored by the Tesco.

Whilst on the DLR yesterday, travelling from Bow Church to Canary Wharf, I noticed another development of flats in the distance, with the requisite Tesco Metro on the ground floor.  Turns out that one is Berkeley Homes’ Caspian Wharf on Violet Road.  Sure, Tesco is handy and I do admit to doing my shopping there sometimes out of convenience.  But I also sometimes shop at the Chinese food shop across the road from Bow Road tube station (Fine Food, 61 Bow Road), at Waitrose in Canary Wharf, at Borough Market, and any other shop that is convenient and stocks what I’m looking for.    Out of curiosity – what do you think about having a Tesco Metro or any other high street supermarket in your neighbourhood?


5 responses to “Another Construction Site in Bow: Safeway, Roman Road

  1. Bonnie,

    Just found your post about the former Safeway Site. Residents protested against this because it’s really about cramming in yet more flats. The Tesco will just be a small Metro under one corner. See my website link for more.


  2. Hi Alan, thank you for your comment. I read your blog posts with great interest. I’ve only lived in Bow for 5 years and am interested in what the local sentiment is. It is such a diverse community, with a lot of history, but undergoing significant (seemingly unmonitored and unconstrained) change. Who are the residents of Bow? What do they want? What do they need? I’d like to take a look at how we could mobilise the community so that we are more empowered and can lift up the neighbourhood. In my mind, lifting up the neighbourhood means a holistic approach – local businesses, community-oriented services, places of cultural interest, a nice, pleasant, safe environment to live, work, and play in. What do you think? Thanks, Bonnie

    • Bonnie,

      I’m very interested to hear from you. Your thoughts on trying to make Bow better mirror my own.

      I first started tangling with local politics when the planning application to build on the Safeway Car park appeared. Residents were horrified that the council could contemplate a 5 Storey high brick wall across the road from the 2 storey Victorian terrace in Cardigan Road.

      The other factor we all thought is that if the car park is taken away, the shops and market will lose so much trade that they will have to close.

      At first we thought it was a nasty property developer and that our local (Labour) councillors would come to our rescue. Then we discovered that one of them (Marc Francis) was a director of Old Ford Housing Association. Old Ford is owned by Circle Anglia who are the developers! At every stage Labour pushed this through despite my speaking against it at Council meetings and 500 individual letters of objection and 3,000 petition signatures.

      We weren’t objecting to some kind of redevelopment, just this out-of-place brick fortress.

      It was Labour who didn’t care and the local Conservatives who helped us try to defeat it (the opposite to what you might think). As a result I joined them and have just been selected a prospective Bow councillor. We are going to stand on local issues and try to improve the area. I’ve already been talking to many residents and shopkeepers. I also attend meetings of the local police, so we are collectively working on crime and anti-social behaviour..

      There are poor people here, and Iceland and the pound shops are useful for them, Tesco would be too. But there also wealthy people in the area and they don’t bother with the Roman Road because it offers nothing for them. Mixed in with the shops I think we need a couple nice restaurants and a few more upmarket shops. That would bring more money into the local area. If you go to France or Italy they have really nice town centres, something has gone seriously wrong here.

      As you say we need some cultural venues here. I’m a filmmaker and photographer, and the area has many artists, but artistic venues are thin on the ground. It would be good to get some sort of Bow festival going.

      We are thinking of setting up some sort of local meeting to get ideas and listen to people’s views. It’s not sorted yet – I’ll keep you in the loop. It would be good to have you involved.


      • Hi Alan,

        It sounds like lots of different objectives by different parties trying to be met, but falling short of taking enough of the local community’s interests into consideration. It almost seems like the redevelopment has set out to achieve one thing – provide more housing and I would hope with Old Ford HA involved that a larger proportion will actually be social and affordable housing. A new development went up next to me here – and it’s all social rented or part-ownership flats by Genesis – no market-rent flats. You are quite right – Bow has the makings of a great diverse community with both affluent residents and ones on lower or no income. Roman Road makes for a great centrepiece – where everything could come together – affordable shops, nice friendly cafés, an inclusive atmosphere. Combine that with spirit, safety and security, and feelings of local empowerment, engagement, and ownership and hopefully everyone who lives in the area will take care of the place like it was their own living room. Now, this all sounds well and good – lots of big words, my objective is to listen to people’s views, help establish strong communication amongst all involved, and turn good ideas into goals – bring action to those goals to make them happen.

        I have some off the cuff ideas and jotted some things down last night. I would love to speak with you more about this and get involved. I would very much like to hear the feelings of local residents first – so that I understand better what people want. I’m one of those people that will shop at Iceland sometimes, I’ve made purchases from the local chemists because it’s convenient. I like the Chinese food shop on Bow Road too. But I also shop at the new Co-op (yay), Waitrose and M&S in Canary Wharf sometimes. I live in Bow Quarter, which at first I thought was great because it’s safe (I live by myself). But after 5 years, I don’t know my neighbours and people leave their rubbish around the estate because they think someone will pick up after them. Mind you, I haven’t tried too hard to meet people in the block (there are 700 flats here!), but it is like a fortress, it’s gated, there is a rubbish pub in the building – wouldn’t it be better if it was more open and residents converged on Roman Road because it was a vibrant place to spend time in?

        I’m a freelance strategist and business designer – in the process of building my consultancy and in between clients. I have time to talk. Let me know when’s convenient to meet and chat. There is a lot of potential in Bow!

        Best regards,

  3. Bonnie,

    Out of 208 flats only 39 are for social renting. The rest are for sale. Two bedroom flats which are described as “affordable” are listed in the planning docs as being for sale at £313,600!

    There is no holistic thinking going on here – only cramming in as many flats as possible. Councillors have blocked their ears to residents views.


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