View of "streatery" board inviting comments.
“Streateries” create outside space for eating, drinking, and noise nuisance. Photo: Fitzrovia News.

Camden Council is to extend its trial of outdoor eating and drinking at Cleveland Street, Goodge Street and Warren Street in Fitzrovia for up to 18 months, saying residents’ concerns about noise nuisance can be dealt with by conditions and enforcement action.

The decision taken on 28 March allows protected space in the carriageway “for businesses to place tables and chairs for outdoor dining”, known as streateries, states a council report.

The streateries are implemented under Experimental Traffic Orders (ETOs) as trials for up to 18 months, during which time people can provide feedback and the outside eating and drinking can be monitored.

“Public consultation will be undertaken after approximately 12 months of the trials the results of which, together with monitoring data and consideration of wider policies, will inform a decision as to whether or not to make the streateries permanent,” states the report.

During 2020 and 2021 Camden delivered streateries “supporting multiple businesses” in Fitzrovia using either Temporary Traffic Orders (TTOs) or Experimental Traffic Orders (ETOs) on Goodge Street, Warren Street, Cleveland Street, Charlotte Street and Whitfield Street in Fitzrovia.

A two-week public consultation was held from 18 to 31 October 2021 for trial Streateries at Cleveland, Goodge, and Warren Street. The proposals help to deliver the “streateries programme” approved by Adam Harrison, cabinet member for a sustainable Camden, in July 2020.

The council is actively promoting outside eating and drinking despite concerns about disturbance to residents.

The report states that the council will use the “licencing team and business groups to promote the streateries to encourage take up and support new pavement licence applications”.

Conditions of the pavement licence “require licensees to manage noise so that the businesses do not cause a disturbance” say council officers.

However, Fitzrovia News understands that many residents view the council’s enforcement action as woefully inadequate, many conditions are unenforceable, and noise nuisance is inevitable from outside alcohol consumption.

Ahead of delivering the streateries, council officers engaged with Councillor Adam Harrison, ward councillors, and had discussed the proposals with The Fitzrovia Partnership business group, states the report.

Responses to the October 2021 public consultation on the “streateries” in Fitzrovia. Image source: Camden Council report.

Responses to the October 2021 public consultation were “broadly balanced between agreement and disagreement” with the proposals.

Comments in favour included remarks about the streets being more lively and cheerful.

“The biggest concern among consultees was disturbances such as noise, antisocial behaviour, smoking and dropped litter which impacts on residents’ amenity. The majority of these related to Cleveland Street and Warren Street.

Some comments raised concern “that the area would become less accessible by private motorised transport” and “loss of parking”.

“Respondents mentioned significantly increased nuisance, particularly in Cleveland Street and Warren Street,” stated the report.

Officers did not consider that the streets are less accessible by motor vehicle as “all streets remain open to vehicles as previously” and there is spare parking capacity. Bloomsbury ward has “the lowest levels of car ownership in the borough at 80 percent of households without access to a car”.

Camden’s Transport Strategy seeks to discourage inessential car use where trips can be made by alternative more sustainable, healthy active modes of travel — walking, cycling and public transport.

The Charlotte Street Association residents’ group responded to the streateries consultation criticising the council for prioritising businesses over people living in Fitzrovia.

“Charlotte Street Association considered the proposals to have multiple detrimental impacts including noise nuisance, such as from customers consuming alcohol. The Association stated specific concern about the Streatery outside 124-126 Cleveland Street due to past complaints about noise nuisance. They commented that more outdoor eating and drinking undermines the settled nature of the residential community, makes the streets more transient and increases the blights of AirBnB and short-letting.

“The Association welcomed the pedestrian and cycle zone at the junction of Warren Street with Fitzroy Street but expressed concern about pollution from engine idling at the junction with Whitfield Street. They suggested to reduce motor traffic, improve conditions for people walking and cycling, provide public space for trees or rain gardens, and took the view that Streateries constitute privatisation of public space,” stated the report.

Council officers responded saying that outdoor eating and drinking is popular among both residents and visitors.

“This use is balanced with the need to protect local amenity: pavement licences for bars and restaurants place obligations on licensees to keep noise and disturbance below specified limits. Camden licencing officers carry out effective monitoring and enforcement to protect residential amenity. Officers are taking enforcement action where required.

“The Council shares the respondent’s ambitions for environmental improvements to the neighbourhood, and to support walking and cycling. However, the objective of Streateries is to support businesses — environmental improvements alone would not be sufficient to achieve this,” stated the report.

Camden Council report and decision. Phase 4 Streateries Programme. Supporting the Hospitality Sector.