Landscape architects Burns & Nice picked to redesign anti-social behaviour hotspot
Westminster council today unveiled £18.5 million plans for a massive redesign of Leicester Square.
Burns & Nice landscape architects saw off competition from Beth Gali, Gross Max, LDA Design, Gustafson Porter, Robert Myers Associates and Gillespies to produce proposals for the London square, which is crossed by 200 million people every year and has been a hotspot for antisocial behaviour.
The plans will see the upgrading of the nine streets which lead off the square, changes to the layout of the central gardens, new seats and lighting.]
In addition, the council hopes to launch a separate international design competition to redesign the square's ticket booth.
Marie Burns, director of Burns & Nice, said: “The key to the design is to establish Leicester Square as a new city quarter. Instead of it just being associated with the square and gardens, it becomes a new city block – that’s why we included the connecting streets.”
She said paths had been reworked to “funnel” visitors to the gardens’ grade II listed fountain and Shakespeare statue.
A flexible lighting scheme can be brightened or dimmed to work with the square’s functions as a public space, film premiere location and site for outdoor events.
Simon Milton, leader of Westminster council told BD: “Leicester Square was symbolic of everything wrong with London. It was an unpleasant place to be… We had to improve the square.”
“We want Londoners to come here and we want families to come here – part of the rationale for doing this is to make it a more family-friendly place.”
Milton added that there was no future for the “marauding gangs of clubbers and drunks” which used to roam the area at night and said the square would ultimately host cultural events linked to the 2012 Olympics, with large screens to display the Games.
Transport for London is to provide £3 million of funding, with the rest to come from the council and local businesses.
Following a public consultation, the council hopes to begin work on the scheme at the end of March.
Other nearby West End schemes include Sheppard Robson’s Trocadero proposals, which were rejected by planners last November (News, November 9 2007) and an 11 storey hotel project by Jestico & Whiles on the site of Leicester Square’s 1960s Swiss Centre, which has planning approval.