The future is al fresco in Kensington & Chelsea
UK first, as Council commits to al fresco dining permanently following the pandemic. Proposal for Sloane Square to become an al fresco hub, with 10-year licensing proposal for bars, cafes and restaurants to operate outdoors.
The outdoor café culture that has sprung up during the pandemic is set to stay in Kensington and Chelsea. The borough is the UK’s first to commit to new local policies to make al fresco dining an ongoing attraction. Businesses will be able to continue offering outdoor dining after temporary government legislation, introduced as part of Covid measures, ends in September 2022.
The Council has approved a new policy which will see businesses offered licences to operate from March to October, in line with British Summer Time. Cllr Johnny Thalassites, lead member for planning, place and environment said:
“Seeing our streets buzzing with people enjoying our world-class bars and restaurants has been a real positive during a difficult couple of years. We want it to be a lasting legacy following the pandemic.
“It’s a no brainer to keep outdoor licensing on the menu when it’s proven so popular with restaurants, residents and visitors. This is a way to support our businesses to get back on their feet, whilst adding to Kensington and Chelsea’s reputation as a destination.”
Al fresco dining has been popular, with streets closed to motorised traffic at Pavilion Road, Elystan Road and Bute Street, along with pop up terraces in parking bays around the borough. The Council has granted licences for 114 outdoor dining terraces licensed on temporary footway extensions and more than 450 pavement licenses in streets and public spaces so far. Sloane Square, which became a hub for outdoor dining in the pandemic, could see its future secured with a 10-year licence.
Hugh Seaborn, Chief Executive of Cadogan said:
“We had been considering seating in outdoor spaces and the pandemic accelerated these plans. With the strong support of Kensington and Chelsea Council, we were able quickly to introduce 900 new al fresco seats across the neighbourhood and provide crucial outdoor spaces to gather, as well as provide a much-needed boost for hospitality businesses in Chelsea.
“Along with the pedestrianisation of Pavilion Road, al fresco dining has brought real vibrancy and a buzzing café culture. The positive feedback has been rewarding and we are working closely with the team at Kensington and Chelsea Council to ensure these lively public places continue to thrive and contribute to the community, looking forward to a summer of outdoor dining complemented by a programme of outdoor public art trails, performances and events.”