Al fresco eating to carry on in Covent Garden but not in Soho

·1-min read
People eating on restaurant tables placed outside on Old Compton St in Soho, in 2020   (Yui Mok/PA Wire)
People eating on restaurant tables placed outside on Old Compton St in Soho, in 2020 (Yui Mok/PA Wire)

West End al fresco dining is to be extended in Covent Garden — but a similar scheme will end next month in Soho.

Westminster City Council said the outdoor dining scheme in Henrietta Street, King Street, Maiden Lane and parts of Southampton Street that has proved a lifeline for hospitality businesses will remain. A scheme in St John’s Wood will also be extended.

It followed a consultation where more than 80 per cent of residents and businesses in the areas supported the extension of the al fresco measures brought in tohelp businesses through the pandemic.

However, the council has confirmed a scheme in Soho which was unpopular with some residents will end on October 1 — despite support from restaurants and bars.

The council is exploring the possibility of reintroducing the scheme later after talks with those affected.

During the summer, about 60 streets in Westminster benefited from measures including pavement widening and temporary closure of roads and parking bays to allow tables and chairs to be set-up for outdoor restaurant seating.

Cllr 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.”

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