Final plans to transform London's most famous but grimiest square into a Continental-style piazza were approved by planners last night.
Westminster City Council's planning committee approved a proposal from the Mayor of London Ken Livingstone to open an outdoor café in front of the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square. A grand stairway is to be built beside the café leading to the front of the gallery and the entire northern side of the square will be pedestrianised. A large paved area will also be laid outside St Martin-in-the Fields church.
The plans look set to condemn Trafalgar Square's famous flocks of pigeons.
Buskers and entertainers be given special licences to work in the new piazza.
Mr Livingstone said: "Trafalgar Square is a world famous landmark, but it's not as attractive as it should be ... The transformation of Trafalgar Square will enhance the city's reputation and give Londoners a public space to be proud of."
Charles Saumarez-Smith, director of the National Gallery, welcomed the plans. "The scheme will revitalise the approach to the gallery and will enable us to extend our welcome to our visitors. The traffic-free area opens up a splendid vista from Trafalgar Square to the National Gallery."
The project, which was first proposed in 1998 by the architect Norman Foster, will also mean months of disruption for drivers. The northern side of the square has already been closed to traffic and the new square will not reopen until May next year.
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