Published 17 September 2021
by Henry Southan
Alfresco dining will be allowed to continue in Covent Garden and St. John’s Wood due to overwhelming support of residents and businesses in the London communities.
After months of consultations, Westminster Council agreed the one-way system and pavement widening in St. John’s Wood high street can stay in place, and outdoor dining will remain in place in Henrietta Street, King Street, Maiden Lane and parts of Southampton Street, surrounding Covent Garden.
A resounding majority of 80 per cent of residents and businesses approved of the measures, which were initially put in place during the summer of 2020 to support the hospitality industry after lockdown.
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 al fresco. Thanks to residents and businesses working together, Westminster is proud to be able to support the continuation of outdoor dining in these areas.”
A question mark remains over the fate of Soho’s much-loved outdoor drinking and dining scheme, with it currently due to end on 30 September, much to the dismay of the hospitality industry as well as thousands of punters who frequent the famed quarter.
There have been campaigns to extend the measures. On 14 September, patrons, residents and hospitality staff amassed to create a manmade hospitality cover using handheld umbrellas on the corner of Old Compton and Dean Street as part of the ongoing ‘Save Our Soho’ campaign.
There is a degree of hope. Westminster Council told CODE: “The council is also exploring the possibility of introducing longer term al fresco schemes in other areas, including Soho. These schemes are being mapped out in partnership with local communities and will only go ahead with the support of residents.”