Al fresco drinking and dining is coming back to Brick Lane.
Bustling Brick Lane isn’t quite back at its pre-COVID heyday yet, but the famous street is about to become a much more pleasant place to eat, shop, and wander aimlessly. Capitalising on the trend set by Soho, Seven Dials, and Brick Lane itself last summer, the lane will be closed to traffic on Thursday and Friday evenings, and on weekends too. The scheme will turn outdoor dining on Brick Lane into a regular feature, and work to reduce pollution in the area – a welcome step both for the dining experience, and the health of Londoners and planet Earth.
18,500 visitors were estimated to visit Brick Lane every day prior to the pandemic, and this scheme is pitched at getting back to those numbers in an altogether safer and healthier manner. Much like Oxford Street, Brick Lane has long been a tourist attraction frequented by traffic – and even more like Oxford Street, local authorities have decided that pedestrianisation is the answer. The street will be closed between 5:30pm and 11pm on Thursdays and Fridays, and between 11am and 11pm on Saturdays and Sundays (including bank holidays).
The closures will also extend to school streets in neighbouring roads, and is projected to boost local businesses, who’ll benefit from more restaurant space and (hopefully) more foot traffic. It’s not the only improvement plotted for the area, though; Tower Hamlets has also announced plans to improve links from Brick Lane to Allen Gardens and Whitechapel, enhance street lighting in the area, and commission public artworks that celebrate 50 years since Bangladesh gained its independence from Pakistan, in a nod to the area’s thriving Bangladeshi community.
Tower Hamlets Councillor Dan Tomlinson noted that “We’ve listened to businesses regarding the timing of the restrictions and there will be no impact on access with the side streets open seven days a week to allow deliveries and parking for disabled visitors.” The road closure goes a step further than Brick Lane’s plan last summer, which saw stretches of the road shut to traffic between late August and early November, and will aim to shore up the area’s reputation as one of the capital’s favourite tourist spots.
If anything, the outdoor dining might finally settle the impossible debate of which is Brick Lane’s best curry house – just pick the busiest al fresco restaurant, and you might just have your answer…
Also published on Medium.