Save Our Soho campaign calls for extension of alfresco scheme

17 September 2021 by
Save Our Soho campaign calls for extension of alfresco scheme

Hospitality staff gathered in London's Soho on 14 September to create an artificial canopy using umbrellas as part of an ongoing campaign to extend the area's alfresco scheme.

Since 19 July restaurants and bars in Soho have been banned from using outdoor furniture such as umbrellas, gazebos and heaters, though chairs and tables are still allowed.

Traffic will be reintroduced to Soho's streets from 30 September, when the outdoor dining scheme is due to end.

Westminster City Council said London Fire Brigade had warned that the outdoor furniture was a potential safety risk in the event of a fire.

This week it was announced alfresco dining will continue in parts of Westminster, including Covent Garden and St John's Wood, following consultations on its future. But the council is still exploring the possibility of introducing a longer-term scheme in Soho.

However, local businesses have warned that the winding down of the alfresco scheme is already harming trade.

John James, managing director of landlord Soho Estates, said: "Soho needs alfresco to survive, and we simply wouldn't be here without it. We all saw what Soho was like in lockdown and the knock-on effect of terminating it will be the same."

Westminster City Council said any future alfresco scheme was "being mapped out in partnership with local communities" and will only go ahead with the support of residents.

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