Northcote Road businesses have shared their delight after Wandsworth Council approved plans to reprise the weekend pedestrianisation initiative, first implemented last summer, from Saturday 17th April.
The scheme will see the Battersea road closed every weekend up until the end of September to allow the 100+ businesses located on the street the space to branch out onto the road if they wish to do so.
Hospitality businesses will be charging a £1.50 flat fee to customers on their first round of drinks, or their food bill to help cover the cost of the road closure.
The idea was piloted last summer in a bid to help largely with the reopening of the hospitality sector post-lockdown, which was met with overwhelmingly positive results from businesses and residents in the area.
Jonny Dyson, Chair of Northcote Business Network praised the council’s support on the scheme and explained just how impactful it had been so far.
He said: “Definitely from the hospitality side of it, it’s saved a number of businesses. Somebody said nine businesses, I mean there’s 33 hospitality businesses on Northcote Road.
“So, whether we saved nine or not, and I don’t know if it was, certainly we saved a number of businesses straight from going completely pear-shaped.”
Sebastian Vince, owner of Breadstall, explained how the popular pizza destination will be introducing ten tables to their premises this year.
Vince admitted he had noticed more hospitality and food businesses had been drawn to vacant premises’ on the Northcote Road in recent months, which he believes could be somewhat down to the additional benefits of the pedestrianisation.
He commented: “It means that for about five months of the year hospitality businesses can pretty much double the covers that they can utilise every week. So it’s very attractive for a restaurant.”
Mark Reynolds of The Bolingbroke detailed how the scheme means they are able to open up earlier than they might otherwise have planned.
He said: “From 12th April to 17th May, we have five weeks when we’re not allowed anyone inside so it’s absolutely pivotal.
“I think without it, we would probably consider not actually opening.”
He noted how the pedestrianisation will result in double the number of covers at the weekends, going from 20 up to 40-45.
“That’s the sort of difference between losing quite a lot of money, and potentially breaking even,” he added.
Howard Taylor of Northcote Records also highlighted just how much capacity his venue is able to utilise due to the additional space made available.
The live music venue was operating at around 25% capacity with social distancing indoor seating alone.
He said: “It’s massive for us because obviously we’re a live music venue so we kind of go through different vibes at different times in the evening, seated cocktail service then becomes a sort of standing-room only later on in the night.
“Obviously that’s been removed for us completely. At the moment, we are operating in very restricted capacities so I would say, doesn’t get us back to 100% but it’s not far off.”
Featured Image courtesy of Northcote Business Network