Surveys on al fresco life prove ‘positive’

Response shows dining scheme has been a ‘hit’ in many areas

Friday, 1st October 2021 — By Tom Foot


The council say they’ve licensed 900 outlets for outdoor facilities during Covid-19

AL Fresco dining schemes will remain in Pimlico, Belgravia, and Mayfair following what the city council described as an overwhelmingly “positive” survey response.

Westminster – sore from the criticism it faced over its flagship scheme in Soho – said the policy has been a “hit” in Warwick Way, Denbigh Street, Churton Street, Elizabeth and Eccleston streets and North Audley Street.

Licensed businesses were allowed to apply for space for outdoor dining during the pandemic to help beat the Covid-19 restrictions.

During the summer, around 60 streets were widened or shut to allow tables and chairs to be set up for outdoor restaurant seating in the street.

But in Soho this led to a massive backlash from residents who complained of Covid-spreading parties, late-night noise, street urination, and lack of disabled access to housing estates.

Cllr Matthew Green, Westminster cabinet member for business, licensing and planning said: “We’re really pleased residents and businesses want to keep al fresco in more areas across the city following the positive response to the schemes in Covent Garden and St John’s Wood.

“It’s no exaggeration to say that outdoor dining has saved many businesses from closure, creating more than 17,000 additional covers across Westminster.

“We have also started the process of engaging on whether appropriate al fresco dining can be incorporated into Soho in a way that works for everyone.

“That’s why we’re working with Soho residents and businesses to design a scheme that will go out for consultation towards the end of this year.”

The council said it is looking at a longer-term al fresco scheme in Soho and a second workshop took place yesterday (Thursday) to discuss residents’ and businesses’ objectives.

The schemes in Pimlico reportedly received backing of 83 per cent of people responding, who agreed they would like the current al fresco measures to continue until a permanent solution has been subject to a full consultation. In Eccleston, 96 per cent of respondents app­roved the temporary outdoor measures, while for Elizabeth Street the figure was 93 per cent and for North Audley Street it was 94 per cent.

This follows a recent consultation on the Covent Garden and St John’s Wood schemes, with 80 per cent of respondents voting in favour of the al fresco measures remaining in those areas.

The council said it had licensed 900 businesses, bars, and restaurants to open outdoor facilities during the pandemic.

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