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Alfresco dining is here to stay in west London

Kensington & Chelsea Council is creating a permanent café culture on its streets

Written by
Lottie Keys

The arrival of springtime sun marks the start of London’s alfresco dining season. And who wants to sit inside when you could be lapping up sun rays (and starting that springtime tan) while enjoying some of London’s best food? Well, it should be music to everyone’s ears to hear that Kensington & Chelsea Council is committed to keeping outdoor dining permanent. 

The council has announced its plans to grant a five-year licence which will allow restaurants, bars and cafés in the area to spill their seating out on to the streets between March and October. The hope is to create a permanent café culture to rival the mean streets of Paris (the City of Light has been leading the au-plein-air charge from the beginning). 

With the environment in mind, the licence won’t run into the colder months of London’s winter as to make the experience in any way bearable would need a lot of extremely un-eco-friendly outdoor heaters. 

The pandemic encouraged restaurants to explore outdoor opportunities. It was a win-win situation for both restaurant owners and customers alike. The outdoor space provided a lifeline for restaurateurs struggling with indoor restrictions, and it also allowed Londoners to meet up with friends and family over some good grub. To keep the alfresco movement going, the temporary legislation is turning permanent in March next year.

Pavilion Road, Elystan Road and Bute Street, which were closed to traffic during the pandemic, are maintaining their pedestrianised identity after the success of their outdoor dining areas. The council says that the decision was supported by at least 70 percent of the respondents to consultations. 

Kensington & Chelsea councillor Johnny Thalassites, said to The Evening Standard, ‘Seeing our streets buzzing with people enjoying our world-class bars and restaurants has been a real positive during a difficult couple of years… It’s a no-brainer to keep outdoor licensing on the menu when it proved so popular.’

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