Alfresco dining to continue in Covent Garden and St John's Wood

16 September 2021 by
Alfresco dining to continue in Covent Garden and St John's Wood

Alfresco dining will continue in parts of Westminster, following consultations on the future of the scheme in parts of Covent Garden and St John's Wood.

Following a month-long consultation, more than 80% of respondents voted in favour of measures remaining, with the one-way system and pavement widening to remain in place in St John's Wood.

In Covent Garden, a consultation confirmed people and businesses in the local area would like alfresco dining to continue on Henrietta Street, King Street, Maiden Lane and parts of Southampton Street.

When restaurants reopened in April this year, nearly 900 businesses, bars and restaurants were able to open to outdoor diners and during the summer, around 60 streets benefited from either pavement widening, temporary closure of roads and parking bays to allow tables and chairs to be set up for outdoor restaurant seating in the street.

The council is also exploring the possibility of introducing longer term alfresco schemes in other areas, including Soho, which the council said, "will only go ahead with the support of residents". Restaurants and bars in Soho have told The Catererthey have seen a drop in trade after the council banned some businesses from using outdoor parasols, gazebos and heaters.

Councillor Matthew Green, Westminster City Council cabinet member for business, licensing and planning, said: "Covent Garden has always been one of London's top destinations for hospitality and St John's Wood offers world-class eateries on a bustling local high street. We're really pleased that residents and businesses have voted in favour of keeping alfresco. Thanks to residents and businesses working together, Westminster is proud to be able to support the continuation of outdoor dining in these areas.

"We are committed to supporting our local communities bounce back from the pandemic. Alfresco has been and continues to be a lifeline for businesses in the West End. This summer, we created more than 16,000 additional covers across the city – the highest number in London – helping to save countless businesses and jobs in Covent Garden and across Westminster. There are some consultations which are still ongoing, and we will continue to work with local communities and businesses as we explore permanent schemes."

Dick Schumacher, chairman of the St John's Wood Society, said: "The consultation results confirm what I've sensed from conversations with residents over the last year, that there is strong local support for transforming our high street with wider pavements and permanent outdoor dining space. Residents want a high street that is greener and more pedestrian-friendly, but still provides parking spaces for visitors from beyond the immediate vicinity.

"The community looks forward to working with Westminster Council on an appealing design that can help make the St John's Wood High Street a destination that draws people from across northwest London to our retailers and restaurants."

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