Westminster Council proposes introducing temporary al fresco dining spaces

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Westminster Council hospitality recovery proposal road closures al fresco dining Coronavirus reopening

Related tags: Al fresco, Restaurant, Westminster city council, London, Coronavirus

Westminster Council has set out plans to temporarily close roads and create al fresco dining spaces across the borough once hospitality businesses are given the green light to reopen.

The measures, which form the crux of the council's hospitality business recovery proposal (released yesterday, 16 June), will cover high-density hospitality areas across the City of Westminster such as Soho, Fitzrovia, Covent Garden and Marylebone.

They include introducing timed street closures and widening pavements, in order to create the space needed for restaurants and cafés to put tables and chairs outside.

Operators wishing to have table and chairs outside will still require a license, with the council saying it will introduce a fast-track pavement dining application process.

Meanwhile, those planning to sell alcohol in an outside space whose license limits them to only selling alcohol inside their venue will need to apply for a variation. 

"We fully understand how difficult this process will be for businesses and the proposed measures begin to outline how we will help,” reads the document.

“It will be crucial to the successful recovery of the city that we do this within the guidelines set by government to ensure we do not risk a resurgence of coronavirus cases.

“But we must also provide the public with reassurance that it is safe to come back and enjoy the hospitality that Westminster is famous for.

“Some businesses will not be able to come back to full trading immediately and we reiterate that these measures are not cast in stone. We will be flexible with our approach and work closely with our businesses to change interventions if they are not working.”

While there is currently no official date set for when pubs and restaurants across the country will be able to reopen, the Government has said it is currently on course to allow some businesses in the sector to reopen on 4 July.

Under Westminster Council's proposals, 45 streets in total have been put forward to benefit from a combination of temporary timed closures, widening of footways, and an extension of outdoor seating and private licenses.

They include the likes of Greek Street in Soho; Lisle Street in Chinatown; and Chiltern Street in Marylebone.

The announcement of the council's proposals follows the recent launch of the Soho Summer Street Festival campaign​, which is led by commercial landlord firms Soho Estates and Shaftesbury, and calls for the temporary pedestrianisation of the Soho area to support hospitality businesses across the district.  

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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