Covent Garden restaurateurs can look forward to spreading out on to the pavement next summer as Westminster City Council looks likely to relax rules on alfresco dining.
The move comes after the success of a pilot project in Leicester Square, where the area allocated to alfresco dining was extended and restaurants were allowed to serve pavement diners for longer at night.
Neil Hall, Westminster Council's project leader for the civic renewal of the West End, said the pilot in Leicester Square had had a "civilising effect" on the area because it encouraged seated diners to linger longer.
The experiment was found to increase business, reduce crime and improve the atmosphere, scoring a hit with businesses and tourists alike. The relaxed rules are now being formalised in Leicester Square.
"The council's cabinet has given us a strong indication that they would like to explore greater flexibility in this area," added Hall.