Since we reported that swathes of the West End, including major Soho thoroughfares, are to shut to traffic and allow restaurants and bars to open in the evenings from April 12th, Chelsea has also announced they’ll be following suit!

A recent announcement from Kensington and Chelsea has earmarked three streets for twenty-four seven closure for the foreseeable, Pavilion Road, Bute Street and Elystan Street. The streets, which include restaurants like CERU and Wright Brothers as well as, obviously, Elystan Street, will allow tables and chairs to spill out onto the streets.

“Yet another foodie pedestrianisation is going ahead as London goes all European and drags tables out onto the streets”
Part of an effort by London’s councils to be helpful to hospitality, which has taken an obvious beating over the past 12 months, the road closures will allow for outdoor dining on a grand scale. To be fair councils have a vested interest in restaurants staying solvent as they look to recoup business rates after the current holiday ends, and they also attract tourists and shoppers into an area, making them vital to the local economies. But our hope is that we sec more and more.

And the measures won’t just be evening-based, as in the West End, but instead, the streets will be closed all day and all night.

Kensington and Chelsea councillor Johnny Thalassites, who goes by the snappy title of Lead Member For Environment, Planning and Place greeted his decision, saying “Kensington and Chelsea is home to some of the best places to shop, eat and drink not just in London but around the world.

“We want to give our businesses the very best chance of recovery when lockdown lifts. Closing roads and getting outdoor licences to business owners as quickly as possible are just some of the practical ways to help our borough get back to the bustling, vibrant destination we have all been missing so much during the coronavirus pandemic.”

So far, just under a month from reopening, the council has granted over 200 pavement licenses to businesses looking to go alfresco. And, as in the West End, anyone who applied last summer will automatically be granted a license to cover the next stage of reopening.

Of course these three streets aren’t the only places in the Royal Borough where outdoor dining will be taking place in force. Sloane Square and Duke of York’s Square will no doubt be densely packed with tables.

Meanwhile Portobello Road’s recent daytime road closure to help market stall owners will continue, no doubt with restaurants, pubs and bars also getting in on the act.

But it’s a nugget at the end of the Council’s statement that caught our eye. While the three streets earmarked for closure will be closed under experimental traffic orders (ie they are temporary) the council is also considering whether the roads should be closed to traffic permanently. A decision will be taken later in the year, but perhaps the Parisian spirit on Bute Street and elsewhere is set to remain! Bon appetite!