By Daniel Hunter
The £15.3 million revamp of Leicester Square has already delivered more than 1,000 new jobs, with many more to come, providing a massive boost to this centre for global movie premieres and the surrounding economy, the Mayor Boris Johnson announced.
Leicester Square, which welcomes 250,000 tourists a day, officially re-opens this evening after a 17 month transformation which has been completed on time and to budget. Attracted by the regeneration of this hugely popular but long neglected destination, new private investment has flooded into the area.
M&M have established their flagship confectionary store at the London landmark, employing 170 people following a £10 million investment from Mars Inc, and the 192 room W Hotel opened in February 2011 creating 200 jobs. Next month sees the completion of the £15 million redevelopment of the historic Hippodrome into a mega casino and leisure attraction, which expects to attract up to 12,000 visitors with a staff of 500.
The square is now fit to roll out the red carpet for even more world film premieres, fighting off tough competition from European cities. By helping to cement the West End’s reputation as the home of UK cinema, the refurbishment will generate millions of pounds in tourism and support the British film industry. In addition, Westminster City Council estimates that about 400 have people worked on the construction and planning of the improvement scheme since works began in 2008.
The makeover of the world famous square includes £6 million of funding from the Mayor’s Great Outdoors programme, designed to improve the capital’s parks, streets and public spaces. More than 11,000 square metres of attractive granite paving has been laid, green spaces created and seating provided for visitors. New lighting has been installed to deter anti-social behaviour which had long blighted the centre of the square making it more attractive to visitors and workers after dark.
A red-carpet opening event will mark the completion of the works tonight, fully reopening the square to the public for the first time in more than a year.
“Today we are rolling out the red carpet for the revamped Leicester Square, which is not only a beacon for world premieres and stars of the silver screen, but also shows how investment can generate jobs and new opportunities for Londoners," the Mayor of London Boris Johnson said.
“This fantastic makeover is an integral part of the legacy that London 2012 will bring, helping to rid the square of the blight of anti-social behaviour and creating a must-see destination for the thousands of people who visit each day."
Leicester Square is the latest in a number of world famous London destinations to be transformed through London's Great Outdoors initiative. Oxford Circus was given the X Factor treatment with an innovative new diagonal pedestrian crossing, two-way traffic restored to Piccadilly and London's premier museum district, Exhibition Road redesigned into a shared space for use by both drivers and pedestrians.
Working with each of London's 33 boroughs, more than 80 projects including parks, high streets, squares and public spaces have benefited from more than £350 million invested by the Mayor through the Great Outdoors initiative, with a further 12 to be completed after the 2012 Games.
Join us on