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Last Updated: Tuesday, 19 July, 2005, 18:11 GMT 19:11 UK
Outdoor stage for West End square
Arial view of how Leicester Square would look
As part of the plan the square would be more family friendly
One of London's main squares could get its own permanent outdoor stage if the plan gets backing from sponsors.

Westminster Council wants to make several cosmetic changes to Leicester Square to enhance its family appeal and stop its association with drinking.

But some people fear the plans could make the space too commercial.

A number of buildings surrounding the venue - the home of UK film premieres - have applied to be redeveloped into hotel and shop complexes.

Green Party Member of the London Assembly Jenny Jones told BBC News: "It's going to lose that peace and quiet and there will be logos absolutely everywhere.

No longer just a walkthrough, the Square will become an identified venue around the World for fun, family friendly environment
Westminster Council leader Simon Milton

"It's commercialisation of a public space and it's probably a really good fundraiser but I don't think it's going to do anything for Londoners' quality of life."

The central statue would be removed to make a bigger pedestrian area.

Planning permission has already been granted to turn the Equinox nightclub in the square into a casino which a council spokesman said will help with "regeneration".

He said an application had been submitted to turn the Swiss building into a hotel with shops below.

There are also plans to redevelop the Hippodrome in the venue which currently sees about 250,000 visitors each day.

'Boundless opportunities'

The leader of Westminster Council, Simon Milton, said the opportunities for sponsors were "boundless".

He said: "Leicester Square should be a stand alone attraction in its own right for visitors to London.

"The plans we have will transform the square into a centre of entertainment in the West End, playing host to performances and exhibitions throughout the year.

"No longer just a walkthrough, the square will become an identified venue around the world for a fun, family friendly environment."

The council hopes its sponsors will have been selected by November.




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