Images above: The Duke of Sussex, on the corner of Acton Lane and South Parade; High Rd Brasserie on Chiswick High Rd
Chiswick restaurants and cafes were busy this weekend, as were the pubs that were open. Proprietors and customers have come to the same conclusion – that people would prefer to eat and drink outside now if they can – and places have made the best of the outside space they have available.
The Duke of Sussex has the greatest natural advantage, with its large beer garden, closely followed by the High Rd Brasserie with its pavement terrace. Top prize for ingenuity goes to the City Barge, which has turned its car park into an outside seating area. Maybe Chiswick High Rd will become like the Champs Elysee, with different cover charges depending where you sit.
Images above: The City Barge from the River Thames; The City Barge from Thames Rd
Shared top prize for squeezing a seat into a small space goes to Hack & Veldt and Pizza Treat, both of which have a small bench outside their premises. You’d probably want to be not only living in the same bubble but sleeping together to want to share it, as the benches are pretty snug, but the thought is there.
Images above: Pizza Treat and Hack & Veldt on Turnham Green Terrace
The Government is encouraging outside seating and takeaway pints to become the norm. The Business and Planning Bill, aka the Covid 19 Bill, to promote economic recovery and growth, allows publicans to turn car parks into seating areas and serve alcohol for punters to take away and consume elsewhere. The Bill has gone through the first few stages and started its committee stage yesterday (Monday 13 July). It’s expected to be passed by 27 July.
Scientists have found that Covid-19 does not spread as easily in an outside environment compared with how it spreads indoors, so the Bill also legislates that outdoor markets, summer fairs and car boot sales will no longer need planning permission, and their hours can be extended without prior approval, all to encourage outdoor activity.
Images above: Outside seating at Clayton Hotel Chiswick; Faamoos and Connollys Irish pub
Chiswick looked positively Mediterranean this weekend, with even the smallest cafes having people sitting outside. I asked Cllr Katherine Dunne, Cabinet Member for Communities at Hounslow Council whether the council was prepared to change the licencing rules so premises could just put their chairs and tables outside without worrying.
At the moment they need planning permission for permanent outside seating. Seats which are taken in overnight are classed as ‘temporary’ outside seating, so don’t need planning permission, but do need a licence. Normally businesses have to pay two fees – a £123 application fee and then the actual licence fee, the cost of which varies according to how big an area they intend to cover with seating.
Images above: Kuyamoto; The Hothouse cafe and The Italians in Chiswick High Rd
She confirmed that premises would still need a licence for outside seating. “At the moment we’re not changing our fees” she said. The Business and Planning Bill would introduce a cap of £100 fee for outside seating, but there is some debate amongst councils whether this would be in lieu of the two fees currently charged, or whether there would be a £100 fee for a licence and there would still be an application fee to pay on top.
The Bill introduces a seven day consultation period, where currently Hounslow requires a 14 day consultation period before the licence is given. Previously it was 28 days. It’s unclear whether any of the cafes sticking a couple of chairs outside have applied for licences or are even aware they should have one. “We will certainly be taking a sympathetic approach to licencing” she said. “But we will be encouraging them to apply for licences”.
Images above: Wild Bunch; Gail’s; Waft coffee
The council is reluctant to scrap licence fees altogether, as they say they need the income. LB Hounslow is looking at a £29 million hole in its budget as a result of Covid-19. In the short term, the additional cost of coping with the coronavirus emergency is estimated at £15 million, while the expected loss of income from unpaid Council Tax and Business Rates, and reduced revenue in areas such as parking and commercial events, is calculated at £14 million. With the loss of jobs at Heathrow and the associated industries across the borough, they are anticipating becoming the second economically worst off borough in London.
Images above: the two Cafe Neros
Images above: Hotel Chocolat; Angie’s Little Food Shop
Images above: Kalamari; D Grande Tex Mex restaurant
Images above: Fouberts; Chief coffee; Cote Brasserie on Turnham Green Terrace
Images above: The Post Room cafe; Avanti, Bedford Corner
Images above: Laveli’s Bakery, South Parade; Swan pub, Acton Lane
Images above: Rhythm & Brews cafe, Wellesley Rd; Tabard pub, Bath Rd
Images above: Queen’s Head, Sutton Lane North; Station House, Grove Park
Images above: Bull’s Head; Bell & Crown, Strand on the Green
Photography by Joanna and Nick Raikes
Read More Stories on The Chiswick Calendar
See also: Foreign holidays back on