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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2006, 12:01 GMT
Mayor backs West End revamp plan
Arial view of how Leicester Square would look
The money would help improve walkways in the square
A vision to transform one of London's tourist hotspots has been given a 3m boost by the mayor.

Ken Livingstone pledged the money to help redevelop Leicester Square into an outdoor venue for musical, theatrical and other cultural performances.

Westminster Council's 18.5m plan will improve access and lighting in a bid to make the area more family friendly.

Mr Livingstone said the scheme would "transform this key but neglected London landmark into a proper gateway".

'Must see destination'

The 3m would be invested in improving the streets and walkways.

Funding from the mayor is subject to sponsors being found to meet the outstanding cost of the scheme.

Sir Simon Milton, Leader of Westminster City Council, said he was delighted the mayor had given his backing to the scheme.

"Situated at the heart of the West End's entertainment district, Leicester Square is visited by millions of people a year...we are committed to making Leicester Square a must see destination in its own right".

A council spokesman said it was in advanced negotiations with potential sponsors.

The plans include a permanent outdoor stage and a number of buildings surrounding the venue have applied to be redeveloped into hotel and shop complexes.

Westminster Council hopes the changes will enhance its family appeal and stop its association with drinking but others fear the plans could make the space too commercial.

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