Westminster City Council’s al fresco scheme will be returning when restaurants, pubs and bars are expected to re-open to outdoor diners on 12 April 2021 and will remain throughout the summer months. The local authority has announced the move to support the hospitality sector during a difficult time for Westminster’s hospitality businesses.
The temporary measures were first introduced when lockdown restrictions eased in July last year and were a lifeline to the local economy, bringing much needed confidence and footfall back to Westminster.
Since then, more than 560 premises have been issued with pavement licences and have been able to benefit from outdoor dining. 60 streets were transformed with temporary road closures and pavement widening to allow for outdoor restaurant seating in the street, stretching from Paddington to Covent Garden and including the Marble Arch London BID area.
We were delighted that our proposals to support hospitality clusters in Connaught Village and Seymour Place were included last year, as well as locations on George Street, enabling our cafes, restaurants, bars and hotels to provide additional external seating for customers and guests with social distancing measures in place.
The temporary measures seen in the summer and autumn 2020, will support the same set of streets as before and will extend to the end of September 2021.
Given the need to keep access for emergency vehicles open and to accommodate residents and other businesses, Westminster Council is unlikely to be able to have additional road closures or new pavement extensions at this time. Businesses who have sufficient space in front of their premises should apply for a pavement licence.
Pavement licences that were issued last year to enable venues to provide al fresco dining are due to expire on 30 April 2021. Hospitality businesses who would like to continue to provide al fresco dining must submit a new application which will be valid until 30 September 2021. Applications will take up to 14 days to process and will cost £100 per application. Premises without a licence but with sufficient outdoor seating can also apply for pavement licence.
Westminster City 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.
For those who can’t operate until indoor seating is expected to be allowed from 17 May, they should visit the Council’s business support services.
As the temporary al fresco measures return this summer, the council will consider 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 and as the city recovers.
For more information, please visit Westminster City Council’s website.
Hospitality is a major employer in Westminster supporting around 80,000 jobs and a big part of the reason people visit the West End. But with shutters down and doors barred, this sector has been amongst the hardest hit during lockdown.
We know how hard this has been, which is why we are relaunching our al fresco scheme as soon as the easing of restrictions allows to help struggling businesses as much as we can. 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.
We stand ready to back our hospitality trade and continue to fight for the financial support they need to survive this period.
Cllr Rachael Robathan, Leader of Westminster City Council