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‘Liveable’ streets? Make our estates ‘liveable,’ Roman Road families tell Tower Hamlets Council

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 July 2020 | UPDATED: 12:40 24 July 2020

Proposals for Roman Road. Picture: LBTH

Proposals for Roman Road. Picture: LBTH

LBTH

Families living near the proposed Roman Road “Livable Streets” traffic free scheme in Bow are wondering when their Malmesbury estate round the corner is going to get a look in.

But round the corner... Malmesbury Estate lumbered with matresses dumped by illegal flytippers. Picture: James ClarkBut round the corner... Malmesbury Estate lumbered with matresses dumped by illegal flytippers. Picture: James Clark

The estate has almost 1,000 homes and high levels of deprivation, the other side of the railway tracks from Roman Road Market where Tower Hamlets Council’s all-embracing plans are centre stage.

Its residents’ association says it’s “disappointed” that no improvements are set for the estate while there are “enhancements for the relatively well-off half in Bow”.

Closing Skew Bridge permanently over the Hertford Cut next to Victoria Park, for example, is part of the council’s plans.

“That area is one of the wealthiest in Bow,” the residents association’s James Clark told the East London Advertiser. “The people there benefit from Victoria Park on their doorstep.

Malmesbury Estate... a bit short on maintenance, say families. Picture: James ClarkMalmesbury Estate... a bit short on maintenance, say families. Picture: James Clark

“The Malmesbury estate in contrast is half-an-hour walk from the park and suffers from pollution from traffic along the A11 Bow Road.

“We haven’t seen significant investment in years owing to austerity and many of our open spaces have been left to antisocial activity.”

The families want “livable estates” if the council is forking out to create “livable streets”.

They have regularly complained of addicts and drug dealers loitering on staircases and now feel the estate “should not be overlooked”, citing “overflowing refuge bins and waste blown in the wind” left for days unswept.

Volunteers greening up Bow's Malmesbury estate just before the lockdown in March... now need council cash to keep going. Picture: James ClarkVolunteers greening up Bow's Malmesbury estate just before the lockdown in March... now need council cash to keep going. Picture: James Clark

The authority promises to sort things out, in a town hall statement to the Advertiser acknowledging that it knows “residents want to see more done to tackle anti-social behaviour and littering.”

The statement assured: “We recognise there is always more to be done and are working with Tower Hamlets Homes which manages the Malmesbury Estate to make improvements. Estates do already benefit from a dedicated anti-social response team and caretaker staff.”

The estate has also been hit by old mattresses dumped by illegal flytipping, a problem the council tried tackling in 2017 when so many were being left on housing estates across the East End that they would have been taller than the Shard skyscraper if piled one on top of another, it was worked out.

Evidence at the time was that unscrupulous absentee landlords were dumping them on estates when their renters on short-term leases left nearby properties.

Dept Mayor Siruj Islam with dumped matresses piled up at a council depot in Stepney in December 2017. Picture: Justin ThomasDept Mayor Siruj Islam with dumped matresses piled up at a council depot in Stepney in December 2017. Picture: Justin Thomas

The Malmesbury residents’ organisation hasn’t taken a position on the proposed Roman Road scheme, but urges its members to respond to the public consultation that ends on July 29. Its cycling chairman Shaheed Chowdhury raised fears about measures to block through traffic when he spoke at an online meeting on July 16 staged by neighbouring Mile End Old Town residents to question councillors about Roman Road. He felt the measures would throw traffic back onto the A11 which was “going to be worse” for them.

Volunteers put their shoulder to the wheel to improve the Malmesbury estate earlier this year in a “greening up” project they managed to complete just before lockdown started in March.

But now they feel the Roman Road scheme puts them “on the wrong side of the line” from the “wealthier half” of Bow.


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