Camden council has given the go ahead in principle for on-street car parking spaces in some streets in Fitzrovia to be replaced with “cattle pens” to enable outdoor eating and drinking to support the neighbourhood’s increasingly desperate restaurant, cafe and pub trade.

Charlotte Street will have parking spaces converted for outside dining and boozing. Cyclists and pedestrians enjoyed safer travel during the lockdown in May.

The move follows Westminster council which had previously approved similar plans for part of Fitzrovia and elsewhere in the West End to increase trading capacity while social distancing precautions continue.

The proposals put forward by The Fitzrovia Partnership Business Improvement District would see punters corralled into eating and boozing street pens, dubbed “streateries” after a similar scheme in New York City. Several streets in the Camden part of Fitzrovia are on the drovers’ route including Charlotte Street, Goodge Street, Warren Street, and Cleveland Street.

Fitzrovia News understands that the Fitzrovia BID originally wanted a food court in Charlotte Street with part of the street closed for some of the day, with all traffic diverted and kettled into narrow, parallel streets. But the current plans do not include any street closures.

“The council will be installing temporary barriers on 14 August, which means the space should be available for use from 15 August,” says the Fitzrovia BID who will be contacting venues near to where the enclosures will be placed.

A new application process for “Pavement Licences” to allow the placement and use of temporary outdoor tables and chairs on footways and carriageways has been opened by Camden and Westminster councils. It is designed to be a fast-track route with only a seven-day consultation period for people to comment on the applications.

The measures are temporary and enabled by the new Business and Planning Act and currently there are no plans for them to be extended beyond 30 September 2021.

While the removal of visitor car parking space — particularly the recidivist idling drivers — will be welcomed by many residents, the additional outside drinking will be an issue for those living above or near the area’s many troughing dens.

“There is concern that outdoor dining can lead to noise and disturbance on the street, especially in the later part of the evening, therefore it is necessary to achieve balance between helping businesses to recover, and providing more capacity to support walking and cycling as well as protecting residents’ interests,” says a Camden report included with the decision signed off by Bloomsbury ward councillor and cabinet member Adam Harrison.

However, both councils have so far declined to accept an invitation from residents to discuss plans for a Fitzrovia Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Instead the two boroughs have concerned themselves with prioritising commercial interests rather than implementing their policy for improving air quality and enabling safer walking and cycling, and despite widespread support for environmental improvements from residents in Camden and Westminster.

Initial feedback from Labour-controlled Camden Council is that reducing through motor traffic in the neighbourhood “will be especially complicated” and beyond the wit of council officers who are rather busy elsewhere in the borough thwarting rat-running drivers. Westminster’s Tory-led council has had little to say as yet, despite its commitment to cleaner air, and some prodding by West End ward Labour councillor Pancho Lewis who is actively urging transport officers to meet with residents.

Fitzrovia Neighbourhood Association measured pre-lockdown NO2 pollution on the corner of Charlotte Street and Goodge Street as significantly above the annual legal limit. Residents consider tackling air pollution and reducing through traffic as a priority environmental issue considering the vast majority of people in Fitzrovia don’t use cars.

With most office workers staying at home the amount of motor traffic in Fitzrovia is still very light, and so is the number of customers who would normally eat and drink out in the neighbourhood. Many offices will not see workers return in any numbers until September or even January.

But the threat of polluted and grid-locked streets remains a headache for government and local authorities as Covid-19 infection rates endure and with commuters shunning public transport in favour of private vehicles.

Only by enabling more people to walk and cycle safely across London will the challenge of getting many thousands of people safely from home to work — and to enjoy the West End — and back again will this challenge be met. Without safe active travel, Fitzrovia’s hospitality trade is on a hiding to nothing.

Map showing proposed outside dining area.
Proposal for Charlotte Street “Streatery”.
Goodge Street “streatery”.

Update 4 August 2020: as of 11.30am there are currently five Pavement Licence applications for outside dining in Fitzrovia. Use the application number (below) to search Camden’s planning website for further information on each application. Note: there is only a seven day consultation period.

Application NumberSite AddressDevelopment DescriptionStatusDate RegisteredDecision
2020/3433/PVLPart Of Charlotte Street Streeteary Ampeli 18 Charlotte Street W1T 2LZ2 Tables and 4 Chairs Monday to saturday 12:00-23:00 Sunday 12;00-22:30 New applicationREGISTERED03-08-2020
2020/3406/PVLNorma 8 Charlotte Street London W1T 2LSAs part of the Charlotte Streeteary 3 Tables, 9 Chairs and 2 Barriers Monday to Saturday 12:00-22:00 New ApplicationREGISTERED31-07-2020
2020/3398/PVLThe Bricklayers Arms 31 Gresse Street London W1T 1QS3 Tables, 12 Chairs, 5 Barriers and 3 Umbrellas Monday to Saturday 12:00-23:00 Sunday 12;00-22:00 New applicationREGISTERED31-07-2020
2020/3379/PVLThe Ninth 22 Charlotte St London W1T 2NB3 Tables and 6 Chairs Monday to Saturday 11:00 – 23:00 Sunday 11:00-22:00 New applicationREGISTERED30-07-2020
2020/3358/PVLThe Fitzroy Tavern 16 Charlotte Street London W1T 2LY12 Tables, 46 Chairs,13 barriers and 12 Umbrellas Monday to Sunday 11:00–22:00 New applicationREGISTERED29-07-2020

Update: 15 August. The following pavement licences have been applied for in Charlotte Street and Warren Street.

Application NumberSite AddressDevelopment DescriptionStatusDate RegisteredDecision
2020/3652/PVL(as part of W|arren Streeteary) Honey and Co 25a Warren St London W1T 5LZ4 tables and 8 chairs Monday to Friday 08:00-22:30 Saturday 09;30-21;30 New applicationREGISTERED14-08-2020
2020/3646/PVL(part of Warren Streeteary) Honey and Spice 52 Warren St London W1t 5NJ3 Tables and 6 Chairs Monday to Friday 08:00-22:30 Saturday 09;30-22;30REGISTERED14-08-2020
2020/3514/PVLROKA ( part of Charlotte Streeteary) 37 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London Post Code W1T 1RR5 Tables, 20 Chairs and 4 Plant Pots Monday to Saturday 12:00-23:00 Sunday 12:00-22:00 New ApplicationREGISTERED06-08-2020

Details of “streateries” on Camden’s website.

Camden are also canvassing views on the future of high streets.

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