Soho Summer Street Festival: Could Pedestrianisation Save Soho?

As the Covid-19 crisis rolls on and independent businesses battle to survive, the Soho Summer Street Festival hopes to save Soho’s smaller venues by pedestrianising the streets  

Lead image: @sohosummer2020

*Article Update 23/06/2020* Westminster has approved pedestrianisation in the evenings, but the campaign continues to push for daytime pedestrianisation too in order to make socially distanced reopenings financially viable 

While businesses around the country gear up to reopen on 15 June, small venues are going to face particular challenges when it comes to meeting social distancing guidelines.

Part of Soho’s charms is its winding streets and dinky bars. But when a venue can only accommodate limited covers, it can be difficult to maintain the recommended two-metre rule, or to turn over enough custom.

In response to this, Soho Estates and Shaftesbury have launched the Soho Summer Street Festival, a district-wide initiative to keep the beating heart of London’s food and drink scene alive.


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Personalities such as Stephen Fry, Damien Hirst, Olivia Williams and Bill Nighy have already backed the campaign, which proposes to temporarily pedestrianise the area and allow venues to expand into the streets of Soho.

The plan relies on Westminster council relaxing licensing measures. But if the council doesn’t back the plan, ‘we are at risk of losing the culture that makes the area so special,’ says John James, Managing Director of Soho Estates.

‘The campaign proposes to temporarily pedestrianise the area and allow venues to expand into the streets of Soho’

Key streets like Soho Square, Carlisle Street, Bateman Street, Old Compton Street, Greek Street, Frith Street, Dean Street, Beak Street and Brewer Street would be temporarily pedestrianised, allowing businesses to set their tables and chairs outside.

Alfresco drinking and dining on the streets of Soho? Move over Paris…

Soho institutions such as Lina Stores, Quo Vadis, Soho House, The Groucho Club, L’Escargot, Bar Italia, Black’s Club and G-A-Y Bar are just a number of local operators driving the initiative, alongside independent restaurants such as 10 Greek Street, Tonkotsu, Old Compton Brasserie and Polpo.

Transit Studio, an architecture and interiors studio led by Ben Masterton-Smith, have been working closely with Soho Estates and Shaftesbury to bring the festival to life.

To add your signature in support of the campaign, or to find out more, see


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