Showbiz stars behind makeover proposed for shabby Leicester Square
Friday 21 March 2003
Influential figures from stage and screen have been consulted over ambitious plans to transform Leicester Square in London from a tawdry city centre haunt into Britain's leading live entertainment venue.
A new casino hotel and a roof terrace along the north side of the square have been suggested for a project to revitalise the area, which has also become a mustering point for aggressive beggars and pickpockets. The theatrical impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh and the film director Ridley Scott have had talks on the plans with Westminster City Council. Other proposals have included a permanent base for the circus troupe Cirque du Soleil.
Leicester Square has long held sway as a centre for popular culture, with artistic connections dating back to the 17th century. The artists William Hogarth and Joshua Reynolds, the first president of the Royal Academy, used to live there. On the north side of the square, Marlene Dietrich and Maurice Chevalier appeared in cabaret shows at the Café de Paris.
The area remains at the centre of British film going, with its seven cinemas hosting 50 premieres a year. Apart from brief appearances from the odd Hollywood superstar, though, it has become more of a centre for hard-drinking youth and petty crime. Late- night licences for some of the 15 bars and nightclubs help attract up to 250,000 people a day.
Simon Milton, leader of Westminster council, said the plan to make the area the focal point of London entertainment was in its early stages. Consultants were expected to report soon. Mr Milton said the scheme had been inspired by the family-friendly atmosphere of Times Square in New York. A refurbished square could be a valuable draw for the tourism industry, which has been hard hit by American travel fears.
"What we have at the moment is a series of bars and clubs on the north side, some of which are very nice, some of which are pretty dire," he said. "What it does is attract young people who are looking to get drunk. Live performances brings different kinds of people into the Square. It wouldn't be just another entertainment venue – the role of Leicester Square should be to be the showcase."
Around-the-clock wardens and closed-circuit cameras have been introduced in the past year as a first check on the drink-related crimes and thefts in the square. The central area is also likely to be redesigned to make more space for outdoor cafés and dining. "Leicester Square is a great place. Ultimately it will be larger organisations that can afford to be there," Mr Milton said.
- 1 Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
- 3 The Simpsons death: Creator Al Jean would 'kill himself' before character like Homer or Lisa
- 4 British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
- 5 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
Five-year-old Iris Grace is raising awareness of autism through her extraordinary paintings
Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
Isis an hour away from Baghdad - with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
British man raped while urinating in bushes at Oktoberfest beer festival in Germany
George Clooney and Amal Alamuddin wedding: The famous congratulate actor and human rights lawyer after Venice nuptials
Isis, we are told, is a 'clear and dangerous threat to our way of life'. I’m sorry, but I just don’t buy it
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
'Women, walk wherever you want' posters taken down in Stamford Hill following 'unacceptable' signs separating men and women
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
- < Previous
- Next >
£330 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Lond...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Reading: Maths Teacher required to teach Furthe...
£21000 - £35000 per annum: Randstad Education Cambridge: Primary teachers requ...
£18000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...