Calls for outdoor heaters as South End Green ‘streatery’ licence extended

Happy diners at Karma Bread in South End Green. Picture: Karma Bread

Happy diners at Karma Bread in South End Green. Picture: Karma Bread - Credit: Karma Bread

Restaurants and cafes in South End Green are celebrating after extending their licence for the streatery until November, and they hope to get approval for heaters and covering for diners.

The outdoor seating scheme was a lifeline for venues which were badly hit by closures and subsequent restrictions due to coronavirus.

With temperatures dropping, owners are hoping to get approval from the council for the measures to keep diners warm and dry. They have called for the town hall to help fund them, as they are currently set to stump up costs themselves if they get approval.

Camden Council is set to provide money from Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funds to pay for the costs so far.

Hasan Demir, who owns Zara, and has been one of the driving forces behind the scheme, said the seating had been vital for the Turkish restaurant over the summer.

“It’s been good, but it’s been a combination of good weather and space,” he said. “[The streatery] has given people more confidence and it’s a more relaxing atmosphere.

“It’s worrying now as not many people want to sit outside. If we can get permission to put gazebos and heaters outside that will help so much.”

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He said he was concerned about the impact of potential future coronavirus restrictions on his business, and that he could be forced to make some members of his nine staff part time if the restaurant is hit again.

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Owner of bakery and cafe Karma Bread, Tami Issacs-Pearce called for the council to help the businesses nearby. She said South End Green had been turned into a “ghost town” during the first weeks of lockdown, after frantic activity in the build up to it. She baked for staff at the Royal Free Hospital during the height of the pandemic.

“It was very scary. I was worried about our survival. Then we were able to have tables outside which helped.

“It was fantastic. It was the combination of that and Eat Out to Help Out. Wow. With both things it was unbelievable. It brought the area back to life. We were able to safely social distance and to say we were Covid-safe and host customers.”

Parliament Hill resident Jamie Knowles, who along with Peter Marigold has helped spearhead the initiative, said: “It’s been fantastic and has brought people together. What I particularly love is seeing neighbours out enjoying the neighbourhood. With what is an anxious time there is a little extra joy in the air.”

Hampstead Town councillor Oliver Cooper described the extension as a “godsend” and said the new measures were vital: “To make the most of the streatery in the coming month and into the future, it will need heating so Covid-friendly outdoor seating can be used all year round.

“It will make a world of difference for South End Green to get heaters. The sooner permission is granted, the more certainty businesses will have in these uncertain times.”