Charlotte Street looking south from junction with Rathbone Street. Photo shows outside dining and drinking areas.
The streatery along the east side of Charlotte Street between Rathbone Street and Percy Street. Photo: Fitzrovia News.

Camden Council has taken a decision to extend the temporary outside eating and drinking spaces, known as “streateries”, in Charlotte Street for another 18 months to April 2024, but will consider other longer-term options including widening the footway and greening.

“The Covid-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on many businesses, and the hospitality sector has been one of the hardest hit. Restrictions on trading severely impacted on turnover and the livelihoods of business owners and employees,” states a council report of 25 October.

“In Camden, 1,915 hospitality business units employ 24,000 people, equating to 8 percent of total Camden employment. Over 15,000 (63 percent) are employed in restaurants, with a further 4,000 in pubs, bars and clubs, and 4,000 in events catering,” states the report.

However, across the London Borough of Camden there are now more licensed premises than there were before the pandemic according to figures from Camden’s licensing team.

Camden is actively encouraging more al fresco eating and drinking, above and beyond addressing the hardship to the hospitality industry due to Covid, and is considering making the streateries permanent.

The council has previously said it will use the “licensing team and business groups to promote the streateries to encourage take up and support new pavement licence applications”.

To assess the continuation of the Charlotte Street streatery, Camden carried out a three-week public consultation from 7 to 27 June 2022.

“An overall majority of 31 respondents (79 percent) agree with the Streateries. Only 6 respondents (15 percent) objected to the proposals,” states a report on the consultation.

“On Charlotte Street, the main concerns focus on noise and visual amenity, but also blocking the footway, increased congestion and pollution, and blocking the Electric Vehicle Charge Point (EVCP),” states the report.

The Charlotte Street Association residents’ group raised concerns about noise nuisance from outside drinking and echoed the concerns submitted by other respondents.

They said the streateries are upsetting the balance in this mixed-use street at the expense of residents. There were no safety improvements for pedestrians or cyclists, and the footway would become more difficult for people with mobility difficulties.

“Charlotte Street Association also commented that Streateries are effectively a privatisation of public space and prevent trees being planted, SUDs and rain gardens being created, cycle parking or secure cycle parking,” stated the council report.

Camden officers responded to the comments saying:

“We consider that the previous use, namely parking bays, was also a type of ‘private use’, ie for private vehicles / private property to be left in a public space.

“Nevertheless, the Council, as the Highway Authority, retains responsibility for the space and will consider longer-term options to ensure a balance with other public uses.

“This will include, for example, building out the footway to provide more pedestrian space as well as more planting, subject to funding.

“A programme under which more secure cycle parking at Charlotte Street or nearby streets will be installed is already in progress,” they said.

“Officers note the concerns about noise, anti social behaviour, footway crowding and unused spaces at all the Streatery locations and will liaise with colleagues in Licencing to undertake enforcement action,” they said.

The Charlotte Street streateries will now continue under an Experimental Traffic Order (ETOs).

“During this time people can provide feedback on the Streateries Commonplace platform which will be monitored. Further public consultation will be undertaken after approximately 12 months of the trial, the results of which, together with monitoring data and consideration of wider policies, will inform a decision as to whether or not to make them permanent,” states the report.

Camden Council: Decision — Phase 5 Streateries Programme: Supporting the Hospitality Sector.

Camden Council: Complain about a licensed premises.