Designers to gain from £70m West End makeover

Westminster Council is planning to appoint designers to work on more than 60 projects as it pledges to kick-start a £70m makeover of London’s West End, ahead of the 2012 Olympics.

The intention is to revamp the heart of London, redesigning key tourist areas such as Soho and theatreland to give a greater sense of identity to the capital. Projects range from overhauling street furniture to creating revised lighting, pedestrian schemes and installing public artwork.

The council is unlikely to create a formal roster, but will instead favour working with designers on an ad-hoc basis, making appointments as and when projects are initiated, says Neil Hall, head of West End and area renewal at the council. Many of the schemes are currently being thrashed out and a series of draft action plans will be published next year.

‘Each project will have a design impact. We will be taking ideas forward over the next four years,’ says Hall.

Under the new plans, Soho, which is famous for its red light district, is being thrown under

Westminster’s £70m plan for West End

• Soho: given a ‘greater sense of place’ (appointments to follow)

• Oxford Street: pedestrian space expanded, traffic flow improved, reduced feeling of clutter (appointments to follow)

• Theatreland: revamped with new pedestrian system and more uniform lighting (Light Matters appointed)

• Chinatown: £1.7m revamp. Chinese government donating traditional-style gates

• Leicester Square: £10m development scheme (Gillespies and Pinnagers appointed, others expected)

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