Outdoor dining set to return to St John's Wood
- Credit: Westminster Council
Outdoor dining will return to St John's Wood High Street after Westminster Council announced the extension of its al fresco scheme.
Restaurants, pubs and bars throughout the borough are expected to re-open to outdoor diners on 12 April and will remain throughout the summer months.
The council says it will be consulting on longer-term al fresco dining.
Temporary measures were first introduced when lockdown restrictions eased in July and, since then, more than 560 premises have been issued with pavement licences.
St John's Wood High Street was one of 60 streets transformed with temporary road closures and pavement widening to allow for outdoor restaurant seating in the street.
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Cllr Rachael Robathan, leader of Westminster City Council, said: "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.
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"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."
The temporary measures seen in the summer and autumn last year, will support the same set of streets as before, and will extend to the end of September.
The council says that, given the need to keep access for emergency vehicles open and to accommodate residents and other businesses, it is unlikely to introduce additional road closures or new pavement extensions.
It said it will be looking into a simplified process to make it easier for businesses which applied for pavement licences last year, to re-apply.