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Council open to pedestrianisation schemes following Soho's alfresco revolution

14 August 2020 by

Westminster Council has said it will examine the potential of further Soho pedestrianisation schemes after it was confirmed the area's alfresco revolution had contributed to seeing 90% of hospitality businesses in the area open.

Changes to allow restaurants to operate with increased outdoor seating following the Covid-19 lockdown saw Westminster Council close Bateman, Frith and Old Compton streets to vehicles between 5pm and 11pm from Monday to Friday and from midday on Saturdays and Sundays.

The measures, set to remain in place throughout August and September, have been described as "magical" by operators, who reported revenue reaching up to 80% of pre-Covid levels, while other areas of capital struggle with low footfall.

Many have called for the measures to be extended and brought back in future years. John James, managing director of Soho Estates, said: "The positive feedback from both Soho operators and customers has been overwhelming following the pedestrianisation of Soho. It has allowed the area to come back to life and return to the buzzy Soho we all know and love. We see no reason why this could not be a long-term initiative, something we replicate every summer if not indefinitely."

A spokesperson for Westminster City Council said: "We're glad to hear that businesses are supportive of the significant and city-wide measures we quickly put in place to help the hospitality sector reopen safely as lockdown eased. These schemes were always designed to be temporary and we've been constantly reviewing their effectiveness, with a view they will finish at the end of September.

"We're already in ongoing dialogue with businesses and residents and that may include looking at the potential of similar schemes for the future, once we have understood all the lessons learned from this summer and there's a clearer picture about central London's recovery from the pandemic."

Image: Soho

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