Westminster’s al fresco scheme to return

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Westminster’s al fresco scheme to return

Related tags Westminster city council Alfresco dining Trinity Angus Jones Adam Byatt

Westminster City Council’s popular al fresco scheme will return as restaurants, pubs and bars re-open for outdoor dining and will run until the end of September.

The temporary measures, first introduced when lockdown restrictions eased in July last year​, were celebrated for ‘bringing much needed confidence and footfall’ back to Westminster, which includes Soho and Mayfair.

The council has revealed that 560 premises were issued with pavement licences and able to benefit from outdoor dining, with 60 streets transformed with temporary road closures and pavement widening to allow for outdoor restaurant seating in the street.

The temporary measures will support the same set of streets as before, and run until the end of September.  

Westminster City Council is encouraging businesses that have sufficient space in front of their premises to apply for a pavement licence, while those that can’t operate until indoor seating is expected to be allowed from 17 May are advised to view its business support services.

The council will be looking into a simplified process to make it easier for businesses who already applied for pavement licences last year to re-apply, so they will be able to provide al fresco dining from day one of re-opening.   

It will also be considering the possibility of what a longer-term al fresco provision could look like, and will be consulting with communities as and when designs are created.

“Hospitality is a major employer in Westminster supporting around 80,000 jobs and a big part of the reason people visit the West End,” says leader of Westminster City Council Rachael Robathan. 

“We have more pubs, restaurants and bars than any other local authority area - around 3,700 - and we want to see them welcoming back customers in a safe way. The majority of our residents have supported these schemes in the past and we hope they will understand the need to continue the temporary measures until the end of September.”

Meanwhile, some businesses are calling for an extension of the Business Planning Act 2020, which was intended to streamline the process of applying for pavement licences for local councils and also capped costs at £100. 

“It came into force in July last year as a recovery tool for hospitality but it comes to an end in September. Sadly the industry has not ended up having that much use out of it because of all the restrictions and further lockdowns,” says Angus Jones, who co-owners Clapham’s Trinity, Upstairs and Bistro Union with chef Adam Byatt. 

“We already have a small amount of covers outside our flagship Trinity but we’re looking to develop a terrace for about 30-covers. We’ve bought a mobile bar and a barbecue and we’ve worked with Ruinart on the barriers and the parasols."

"It’s a big investment, between £20k and £30k. We're already committed but it would be helpful if the act could be extended." 

Byatt is planning a simple Mediterranean-style menu that would be distinct from Trinity's Michelin-starred offering. 

Last week, the City of London Corporation extended its policy on free pavement licences for the Square Mile by six months​. 

Since August last year, a total of 58 applications for pavement licences have been made, with 40 granted. 

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