Camden Council is removing the outside eating and drinking enclosure in Conway Street but making permanent the facility in Whitfield Street, in a decision taken as a result of public consultations and trials of the schemes.
A council report on the decision taken in December states that the “streatery” schemes at Conway Street and Whitfield Street in Fitzrovia were introduced on a trial basis under an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO) in July 2021 as part of a wider scheme to support the hospitality sector across the borough.
A public consultation between 12 November and 4 December 2022, ongoing “feedback received during the trials”, and council officers’ recommendations informed the decision, states the report.
The streatery schemes were enabled during 2020 when the Government introduced a temporary, fast-track, cheaper pavement licence (PVL) for businesses to put tables and chairs on the public highway for outdoor eating and drinking while social distancing rules limited indoor seating.
The legislation initially ran until 30 September 2021 but has twice been extended with the most recent to 30 September 2023.
Camden has delivered three tranches of streateries as temporary or trial measures. The first tranche was implemented in 2020, using Temporary Traffic Orders (TTOs) as approved by the director of environment and sustainability in consultation with Cllr Adam Harrison, the cabinet member for a sustainable Camden.
These covered multiple businesses in Goodge Street, Warren Street, Cleveland Street and Charlotte Street in Fitzrovia. The second phase was delivered in May 2021, also using TTOs, at South Crescent, off Store Street. A third tranche was approved at the end of June 2021 for Conway Street and Whitfield Street, using an Experimental Traffic Order (ETO) for up to 18 months, until 7 January 2023.
The streateries require both a traffic order to occupy space in the carriageway and a pavement licence (PVL) for businesses to use the space for customers to sit. Businesses also require a premises licence to serve alcohol.
Camden says the streateries contribute to the health of high streets, economic recovery, and create destinations for residents and visitors to meet and socialise, contributing to community and street life.
The council says there is widespread support for retaining the streateries, despite concerns about customers drinking alcohol outside causing a noise nuisance for residents living nearby, blocking footways, and the removal of kerbside loading space making deliveries difficult. Many residents are also concerned about the increase in the number premises in Fitzrovia licensed to serve alcohol.
At Whitfield Street the streatery in front of Gig’s restaurant will now being retained permanently following a majority of responses to the public consultation in support of it.
“The restaurant trading at the streatery strongly agrees with the proposal, commenting that their business may not have survived without a streatery, and stating that this now complements the wider benefits promoted by the West End Project,” says the consultation report.
The Fitzrovia Partnership Business Improvement District responded in favour of the proposals, stating that the streatery is well-maintained and adds beauty and greenery to the area and benefits the local economy.
The Charlotte Street Association residents’ group objected to the streatery raising concerns about potential noise nuisance from customers drinking outside. They also stated that there is a “shortage of loading bays and delivery drivers would park illegally. The proposal would not address the issues of through traffic, nuisance and road danger from motor vehicles. They would rather see safer and green streets than beer gardens for the benefit of businesses,” stated the report.
Council officers responded saying they are “not aware of reports of excessive noise at this location” but will continue to monitor the site and undertake enforcement action if necessary.
In response to concerns about lack of loading and illegal parking, there is a single dedicated loading bay on Tottenham Street, and deliveries are permitted in the residents’ bays, 20 metres north of the streatery, on Whitfield Street.
“Streateries are not a road safety or traffic reduction programme,” state council officers and “further greening of the street scene can be considered if funding becomes available”, stated the report.
Outside the Lore of the Land pub in Conway Street, the streatery drew complaints about drinkers blocking the footway and causing a noise nuisance.
A “small majority” of respondents to the consultation objected to the streatery. The responses were split with residents largely against, while visitors and people working in the area in favour. The business trading at the streatery did not respond to the consultation.
Noise and blocking of the footway by large crowds outside the pub were the main concerns. “The comments suggest that noise and anti social behaviour have always been concerns but the streatery exacerbates the problems, enabling more people to use the space,” states the report.
When council officers visited the premises they found that the outside seating area was not being used as intended and the business had not obtained the correct paperwork to use the streatery.
The streatery at Conway Street will now be removed.
Rather confusingly, the since all the streateries implemented by this current phase are enabled under a single traffic order, “no one site can be considered unilaterally and any decision to let the ETO expire would affect all streatery sites”.
Council officers will now make all the streatery locations permanent on expiry of the ETO in January but there will be a further Traffic Management Order (TMO) consultation with the proposal to reinstate Conway Street and Grafton Way to their previous layouts and remove the streatery space.
Camden Council decision: Phase 6 Streateries Programme: Supporting the Hospitality Sector.