West End cinema, a famous movie theatre in the heart of London, and an adjacent pub known for many famous people among its frequent guests, are to be demolished in order to build a 10-storey hotel complex. This quite an unexpected decision has already caused many negative comments from the side of Londoners and objection of English Heritage.
The Odeon West End is a movie theatre that has traditionally hosted the BFI film festival. This building, as well as other 5 buildings on Leicester Square, will be bulldozed. On this site Edwardian Group plans to build a hotel with 360 beds and a cinema with two screens and 400 seats.
The controversial plan was accepted by Westminster Council because the new complex would bring “a renewed vibrancy” to the square. On the other hand, experts of English Heritage are against this decision because the new project will kill the atmosphere of Leicester Square that is loved by so many Londoners and millions of tourists.
Another historic building that is to be demolished is the Hand & Racquet. Built in 1865, the pub made a significant contribution to British comedy. Such famous personalities as Tommy Cooper, Tony Hancock, and Sid James were often seen in the pub. The Hand & Racquet was closed four years ago.
While English Heritage experts say the façade of the cinema should be kept as it has historic importance, Westminster Council assumes buildings near the cinema need refurbishment and the opening of the new hotel will create 400 additional jobs. Moreover, Edwardian already paid £2.9million to council. The hotelier is excited about the opportunity to open a hotel on Leicester Square and promises to “redevelop an iconic London destination”.