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Resident working groups, inspired by retail guru Mary Portas, being set up to revive Bow's Roman Road

PUBLISHED: 14:36 15 June 2012 | UPDATED: 14:28 19 June 2012

Retail guru Mary Portas

Retail guru Mary Portas

PA Wire/Press Association Images

Residents are being recruited to help revive Bow's Roman Road Market and bring the high street "up to date" with its changing surroundings, including the nearby Olympic Park.

About 25 people turned out for a meeting last night at The Cafe at St Paul’s Church, St Stephen’s Road, the first meeting to be organised by the recently formed Roman Road Town Team.

The team was set up by two Bow residents inspired by TV retail guru Mary Portas, who recommended in a government report that local high streets should develop “Town Teams.”

One of them, Paula Hirst, who has worked in regeneration for the Greater London Authority and Olympic Delivery Authority, said: “Roman Road is looking a bit tired and needs to be brought up to date with its surroundings. But I absolutely think it has a lot of potential. It is surrounded by a very vibrant population, and is half way between Shoreditch and Stratford where the Olympic Park is changing the landscape.

“People go to Spitalfields because it’s a nice place to be and Broadway Market has become the heart of the community. We need to create a place like that.”

She said the next move will be to set up working groups among the people who showed an interest in helping to revive Roman Road at last night’s meeting. These groups will then focus on areas which residents would like to see improving.

Ms Hirst said: “There were three main areas which residents said they would like to improve.

People wanted to see greater variety, including independent shops and stalls selling more healthy and high quality food. So we need to look at what is stopping businesses from coming here.

“They would also like the physical appearance of the road improved, in particular shop fronts, and to start up events around Roman Road, such as dance and sports activities.

“We are also looking at starting a Roman Road festival.”

The team will be bidding for up to £100,000 in government funding by becoming a Portas Pilot, which they want to spend on employing a project officer to lead volunteers.

Anyone interested in volunteering to help the team should contact theromantownteam@gmail.com

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