diamond geezer

 Saturday, April 24, 2010

Local news for local people

Kings Arms Guest HouseKings Arms update: I wrote last summer that the Kings Arms pub in Bow Road appeared to have closed down. The building then went very quiet until earlier this year when builders arrived and started doing the place up. I realised the worst - no more pub - when I peered in through the windows and saw partition walls and a staircase where the bar used to be. This week the new owners have even painted over the characterful "Kings Arms" lettering on the front of the building and replaced this with a wonky ill-judged aberration whose letters are already peeling off. The full name of the new business is only revealed in a tiny amateur sign in the window, inkjet-printed from a single sheet of A4 paper. This has been chopped into strips and stuck with tape not quite horizontally to the glass, and mutely announces the arrival of the "Kings Arms Guest House". As rebranding goes, this is woefully inept. The 2-star guest house has yet to open, but already has a web presence written by incompetents: "Kings Arms Guest House is a newly refurbished bughet accomodation that has excellent connectivity due to its prime location that suites to the Olympic Site officials working at Stratford, Banking & Business sector community of Canary Warf & Excel Centre and the tourists travelling to Central London visiting places." Another pub bites the dust, stripped and gutted to meet the 21st century business paradigm. Only the landlord of the Bow Bells opposite might raise a glass to that.

488 bus update: Good news for Hackney/Bow residents who use the 488 bus to get home from Tesco. TfL have tweaked the 488's southbound destination, truncating the route by two stops so that it now terminates outside Tesco in Hancock Road. This means that northbound buses now start from Tesco, allowing elderly shoppers to hop on here rather than having to lug their bags on a long trek under a dual carriageway. This greatly improves on TfL's previous (whispered) advice to pensioners to stay on the bus to Twelvetrees Crescent, wait while the driver stopped off for a fag, and then continue back up to Roman Road. It's only taken 2 years to get back the looped service lost when the S2 was withdrawn in 2008. Except this isn't quite the perfect solution. The southbound 488 now terminates one stop short of Bromley-by-Bow station, which means that a direct connection between bus and tube has been lost. Meanwhile each northbound bus stops at Bromley-by-Bow station twice, once on each side of the dual carriageway, which is pointless overkill. It seems that TfL have prioritised access to Tesco over access to their own tube station. Why am I not surprised?

Bromley-by-Bow Tesco update: Planning permission is now being sought for the development of an utterly ginormous Tesco just to the south of the existing superstore. A revised application is up on the Tower Hamlets website, and there's very little time to object. It's hard to see what's changed since the last lot of plans, which were damningly described as "incoherent" and "piecemeal" by government advisory body CABE. In particular the Tesco store still gets the prime spot by the river, while the residential blocks and multi-storey hotel are fated to stare out across the noisy smelly A12. They also want to divert northbound buses so that these serve the new store rather than the existing community. It's easy to see what benefits Tesco get from the redevelopment, but I fear that their priorities are about to ride roughshod over an ideal solution for local residents. A planning decision like this only gets made once, but we'll all have to live with the consequences for decades.

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