Alfresco summer dining plans for 100 outdoor tables will put Belsize Village ‘on the map’
- Credit: Archant
Belsize Village is set for alfresco wining and dining as early as July 4 to help hard-hit businesses from the coronavirus pandemic “stave off insolvency” - and similar initiatives could be launched across Camden.
The plans for a “streatery” will see 100 socially distanced tables placed outside, serving food and alcohol to more than 200 customers from nine restaurants and cafés.
The proposals, which have been allocated a £30,000 grant by local councillors, are being reviewed by Camden Council and could be approved for July 4 when pubs and restaurants reopen in the next stage of lockdown easing.
Belsize Terrace and its surrounding roads have been eamarked as host streets and the “continental-style” dining would take place all week, Monday-Sunday, with varying hours depending on the street and day.
The longest hours currently proposed are 7am-11pm over the weekends in Belsize Terrace. The summer scheme would end on September 27.
Belsize Village Business Association co-coordinator Robert Stephenson-Padron said the streatery could return in following years too but ward councillors - while supportive of the plans - voiced concerns from residents over parking, noise and social distancing.
Robert said the “vibrant” idea was a way to bring struggling businesses back on their feet.
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He told the Ham&High: “This is extraordinarily important for local businesses.
“For one it will stave off insolvency which I think otherwise many of them would face and it helps workers retain their jobs.
“Our idea of this is really to increase the profile of Belsize Village so it doesn’t just provide a short-term jump, but a long-term benefit to the community businesses here.”
The restaurants and cafés involved are Belsize Café, Bourne’s, Calici, Charro de Rio, Hazara, Retsina, Roni’s, Taherah and Teta’s.
Customers will be encouraged to pre-order to “minimise interaction” with staff, waiters will wear face masks and gloves, and tables and toilets will be “deep cleaned” regularly.
Camden Conservatives leader Cllr Oliver Cooper (Con, Hampstead Town) said the plans will “put Belsize Village on the map” and attract the attention its “unique character deserves”.
Cllr Cooper said: “Our businesses live to serve customers, not lie empty, and it is one of the most innovative and cost-effective ways to help them do that.”
A similar scheme to Belsize Village is lined up for the West End as the government and local authorities look to revive the hospitality sector.
In a joint statement Belsize councillors Luisa Porritt and Tom Simon said they “welcome” the alfresco proposals with “much support” in the area.
However they said they were working with council officers to address residents’ concerns such as the proposed removal of parking bays.
Belsize resident David Percy said the streatery “could be vital to the very existence” of local restaurants and that the area around Belsize Square is “extremely well suited”.
Cllr Danny Beales (Lab, Cantelowes), Camden Council’s planning lead, called the proposals “innovative” and that it is “actively exploring” similar ideas across the borough.
Cllr Beales said: “We are working quickly on this Belsize Village proposal to ensure that all the relevant permissions and licenses are in place following consultation, enabling this project to operate safely and legally, whilst mitigating any possible impacts for residents and businesses.”