Save our shops: 588 Roman Road PA/22/02181/NC

posted in: Uncategorized | 0

588 Roman Road (currently occupied by Highland Phone and PC Centre) is under threat of losing a large part of its valuable retail storage space to make way for residential dwellings. Help us object to ensure Roman Road retains its retail space and be a successful, thriving high street.

We’ve made it very easy for you. Just copy and paste the below email to: and remember to cc.

Please quote OBJECTION: PA/22/02181/NC in your subject line.

View the planning application documents

Please act fast – there isn’t much time left until the end of the consultation period. Deadline for appeals is Tuesday 29th November 2022.

Thank you,
Roman Road Trust


Dear Development Control, 

I wish to OBJECT to the planning application: PA/22/02181/NC which is described as:

Proposed change of use from ground floor rear storage to residential unit of 588 Roman Road E3 5ES.

The application, if granted, would result in the unacceptable loss of retail space within Roman Road East District Centre. My reasons for objection to the above application are as follows:

Planning history

The planning history illustrates the erosion of traditional business space along the Roman Road East District Centre and the encroachment on business space due to the demand for residential space:

  • 2008: permission granted for change of use from green grocer to takeaway restaurant, but the ground floor is currently occupied by Highland Phone and PC Centre.
  • March 2022: PA/22/00170/NC. Permission granted for double storey rear extension
  • September 2022: PA/22/01457. Permission granted for first floor rear extension

Article 4 Direction

The council  confirmed an Article 4 direction to remove permitted development rights for changes of use from Class E uses to Residential (Class C3) uses in certain parts of the borough.

This came into force on 18 August 2022 and the map showing the areas covered by the direction includes the Roman Road East District Centre in which 588 Roman Road is located.

Policy S.SG1 Areas of growth and opportunity within Tower Hamlets

  1. The borough’s town centres will continue to be the focus of shopping, leisure, cultural and community activities and will include a broad range of uses that are accessible to a significant number of people via foot, cycle or public transport. 

Policy S.TC1 Supporting the network and hierarchy of centres

The proposal fails to meet the requirements paragraphs 2 and 3 below of the policy supporting the hierarchy of centres. The proposal would reduce the amount of Class E space and undermine the future function, vitality and viability of the district centre.

  1. New development within the Central Activities Zone, Tower Hamlets Activity Areas and Major, District and Neighbourhood Centres will be expected to support the delivery of new retail and leisure floorspace to meet identified needs.
  2. New development must contribute positively to the function, vitality and viability of the Major Centre, District Centres and the Columbia Road and Redchurch Street Neighbourhood Centres.

Roman Road Bow Neighbourhood Plan

The Neighbourhood Plan strongly supports the Roman Road as a business area whilst encouraging more diverse Class E uses. It does not support the conversion of ground floor business space in this district centre into residential accommodation.

Policy LE1: Encouraging flexible use of premises

 ‘In order to support the Bow economy, proposals to deliver Class E uses that are capable of supporting maker spaces, cultural or leisure activities and social enterprises will be strongly supported.’

Roman Road Market Conservation Area

The management guidelines (page 11) for the conservation area state: ‘The fragile character of Roman Road has been eroded in the past by unsympathetic alterations and re-building, and further attrition of this character must be prevented.’ 

Heritage Statement

The heritage statement accompanying the application asserts the following: ‘It is argued that the effects of the proposal on the Conservation Area are beneficial and do not harm and the effects on the character and appearance of the Conversation Area are acceptable and accord with the relevant policy.’ No evidence offered to justify how the proposal is beneficial, and no indication is given of what ‘the relevant policy’ might be.

In the application’s heritage statement the reason for the works is given: ‘The proposed works aim to improve and reinstate the quality and character of the existing buildings.’ 

This is at odds with the description of the works provided in the application which says it is about the ‘proposed change of use from ground floor rear storage to residential unit.’

Additional specific concerns

We have additional concerns over specific points in the application, which lacks detail, omits key information and shows no awareness of local community life and the challenges Roman Road businesses and the market currently face:

  • The proposal seeks to convert 39 sq. metres of Class E ground-floor storage space at the rear of the premises. The addition of an entrance passage to the proposed new residential unit and reconfiguration of the stairs to the upper floor would reduce the shop area to approximately a third of the total ground floor area.
  • The application answers ‘yes’ to the question ‘Do the proposals cover the whole existing building.’ However the area covered by the proposed works are stated as only covering 39 sq. metres.
  • The development is described as ‘apartment or maisonette’ but comprises one habitable room and one bedroom. It is unclear therefore if the intention is for the proposal to be a one-bedroom flat or linked with the accommodation on the upper floor as a maisonette.
  • The works are expected to start in November 2022 and be completed in January at an estimated total cost of up to £2 million. This timescale is unrealistic and the cost is in effect unspecified.
  • The method of foul sewage disposal is stated as ‘unknown’, and it’s ‘unknown’ if the development will connect to the existing drainage system.
  • There is no green sustainable drainage system included and the expected internal residential water usage of the proposal is given as 0.00.
  • Under environmental impact the application says there will be no reduction in greenhouse gas emissions and the total annual Nox emissions is 0.00 kilograms. It appears the unit would be gas heated as zero units are to be electrically heated, but there are no details about how the unit would be heated.

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

Yours sincerely



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *