Divert the Traffic: Plans to Save Soho this Summer

Summer in Soho has always had the best vibe. Where else would you want to be for eating, drinking and hanging out with old friends? Not to mention the new ones you’ve only just met on a great night out…

Lockdown in Soho

Lockdown Soho My Soho Times
Empty streets of Soho during lockdown | Old Compton Street

After the long months of lockdown, it looks like bars, restaurants and cafes are set to re-open during the first week in July.  But with some uncertainty around the whole 2m (or will it be 1m?) social distancing issue, accommodating drinkers and diners inside is going to be tricky.

Burger & Lobster lockdown soho
Lockdown Soho: Burger & Lobster temporally boarded up

Save Soho: Soho Summer Street Festival

But as we know, where there’s a problem Soho will be looking to find a solution asap…  Enter the Soho Summer Street Festival.

This is the brainchild of Soho Estates’ John James.  The plan is to temporarily pedestrianise the beating heart of Soho for a few months to allow for al fresco drinking and dining. No cars = lots of beautifully spaced tables taking their rightful place along the pavements and roads.  We’re talking a squarish rectangle encompassing the likes of Streets Old Compton, Frith, Dean, Greek, Bateman, Carlisle & Romilly. 

Screen Shot 2020-06-17 at 10.14.33

Obviously there will be the logistics to sort out – deliveries and access for emergency & rubbish removal vehicles being the most pressing. And of course close co-operation with Westminster City Council will be vital to comply with licensing laws for street drinking. 

Some of our favourite restaurants including 40 Dean Street have expressed their support

Support for the plan has come from all quarters and is pretty much across the board. The Soho Society has some reservations in that the ‘festival’ aspect might attract unruly behaviour and noise, but hopefully fears can be allayed on that score and a summer of love commence.

In the meantime Save Soho (not to be confused with Save Soho performing arts campaign) is asking for support and looking for ideas and input from the public.

Show your support

An update from Save Soho:


Westminster City Council has proposed opening the streets in the evenings (https://www.westminster.gov.uk/reopening-westminsters-hospitality-sector)
But, this is not enough for most of the smaller places within Soho to open, and not enough to afford to survive. If you agree and would like to help us help Soho, please email your support to CoW below, suggesting changing the hours to 12.30 – 10.30pm, email movementstrategy@westminster.gov.uk & tbarnes@westminster.gov.uk  by Sunday 21st June and ask them to extend our hours. They give the voices of residents far more credit than anyone else’s voice – so your email really matters now.

If you will email, please do include your name and address to show you’re a resident.

For more info visit https://savesoho.co.uk to have your say.  You’ll be in good company – the campaign already has the backing of Stephen Fry, Chrissie Hyde and chef and food writer Yotam Ottolenghi.

So get clicking and let Soho save your summer. Sitting, sipping and watching the world go by is just what we need right now.  See you down there.

Words by Gillian Smith @gillianasmith_| Photos: Kai Lutterodt @the.soho.girl

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