London is embracing the power of the pedestrian once again this summer, as Westminster City Council have elected to repeat last year’s plan to turn swathes of the capital into outdoor dining and drinking spots. Last year, some 60 streets were transformed into fashionably Europeanesque dining areas, allowing the bars and restaurants of the area to trade safely. The scheme is poised to return this year, with the first closures happening on April 12: the day Step 2 of the lockdown easing roadmap can begin.
The Evening Standard reports that “Dean Street, Old Compton Street and Greek Street in Soho, Lisle Street in Chinatown, St Martin’s Lane and Maiden Lane in Covent Garden, and Chiltern Street in Marylebone” will all be amongst the streets closing during the daytime and into the evening. That could allow restaurants including Barrafina, Cay Tre, Lina Stores, and Chin Chin (Soho), Bun House, Ermei Sichaun, and Hong Kong Buffet (Chinatown), Rules, Fire & Stone, and The Porterhouse (Covent Garden), and celeb magnet Chiltern Firehouse (Marylebone) to spill out onto the streets for al fresco dining.
The plan would see roads closed to traffic at certain times during the day, along with the widening of pavements to make room for outdoor tables and chairs. Last year, road closures were only considered in areas where there is a “heavy concentration of food and drink retailers”, and where tables and chairs won’t be blocking pavements for pedestrians – it’s expected that 2021’s outdoor dining summer will follow a similar pattern. Westminster Council have vowed to simplify the application process so that the outdoor spaces are available for use as soon as the April 12 relaxations occur.
Areas under Westminster Council’s purview – and thus possible beneficiaries of the scheme – include Soho, Marylebone, Westminster, Belgravia, Mayfair, Pimlico, and Maida Vale, although only the restaurant-heavy streets are likely to benefit. The scheme’s return is to protect what the council has called “the biggest and most vibrant [hospitality industry] in the country”, and includes some of the hardest-hit hospitality areas, including Chinatown. The measures will extend until the end of September, at which point there are high hopes from the government that life could be back to something approaching normal in the UK.
Though indoor dining could resume as soon as May 17, the council has also pledged to “consider the possibility of what a longer-term al fresco provision could look like”, in order to cement Central London’s status as a dining destination. Such discussions have tentatively been planned for when “the city recovers”, but we’ll keep you updated with any further developments on this. The council will be consulting with communities as and when designs are created and as the city recovers. In the meantime, we’re looking forward to April 12 even more eagerly now!
Article Source: Secret London