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A little slice of European culture in west London

By Felix Faulkner, solicitor, Poppleston Allen

- Last updated on GMT

Outside service: the current provisions on al fresco dining are set to end in September this year (image: Getty/claudiodivizia)
Outside service: the current provisions on al fresco dining are set to end in September this year (image: Getty/claudiodivizia)

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The Covid-19 pandemic has been a catastrophic time for the licensed industry, however not in every sense.

One of the few unexpected positives to have come to the fore is the relaxation of the regulation surrounding outdoor dining outside premises – and something one London council wishes to make a permanent feature on its streets.

The Business and Planning Act 2020 has been a lifeline for premises over the past two years. The fast-tracked piece of legislation was brought in during the summer of 2020 and provided vital support to licensed premises through an automatic off-sales provision and the temporary removal of regulatory barriers to make it easier for premises to apply for pavement permits.

Current provisions

The current provisions are due to expire in September 2022, having already been extended 12 months from the initial expiration date, however after positive reviews from premises and residents alike, Kensington and Chelsea has taken initial steps to continue the al fresco dining into the future.

Following a successful consultation period, the west London council has this month ratified its decision to introduce a new ‘British Summertime Licence’. The new proposal is to initially come into force beginning in the summer of 2023, to permit businesses the opportunity to use pavements, pedestrianised areas and close parking bays in line with UK daylight saving.

Delicate balance

There is a delicate balance with outside seating between a successful operation of a premises and the quiet and peaceful enjoyment of residents, however utilising a strong licensing regime is the best way to come to a comfortable equilibrium for all. It is well documented that cities and town centres across the country are on their knees, and maybe that shift in the culture to enhance outdoor dining is one which could benefit businesses, customers, and residents in perfect harmony.

This decision is one which will be refreshing reading for those who fall within the councils’ boundaries and shows a real desire from K&C to support local businesses. On a broader scale, the ultimate hope would be that other councils see the great opportunity to enhance their local boroughs and follow suit to make dining on these shores that little bit more continental.

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