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Pedestrianised zone outside Shaftesbury Theatre to reintegrate it with ‘the public realm’

Bennetts Associates drawing of the new Shaftesbury Theatre and Princes Circus Bennetts Associates drawing of the new Shaftesbury Theatre and Princes Circus
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A redevelopment of the Shaftesbury Theatre in London’s West End has been granted planning permission, which will see the venue add foyer spaces, step-free access and an outside space in a newly created pedestrianised area.

The theatre has long been isolated on Shaftesbury Avenue by roads that run on every side of it.

However, the new plans – which have been approved – will see the area around the theatre, known as Princes Circus, redeveloped. A pedestrian zone will be introduced directly outside the theatre.

Using this, the theatre will have outside seating and a new kiosk. The current ground and upper-level bars will be refurbished and extended, while a new foyer space at the basement level will serve the stalls.

The theatre’s auditorium will be restored, with 16 additional toilets. There will also be step-free access for the first time in the theatre’s 106-year history.

Bennetts Associates, which is overseeing the project, said the plans would “secure the theatre’s long-term future as an important venue in London’s Theatreland”.

It added the plans would help reintegrate the restored theatre “with the public realm”.

Simon Erridge from Bennetts Associates, said: “The West End’s venues must continue to adapt to the needs of contemporary audiences and the Shaftesbury Theatre is an exemplar of this. The innovative scheme shows how joined-up thinking between the public and private sectors can result in better, more accessible and more welcoming spaces both inside and outside our historic theatres.”

Shaftesbury Theatre chief executive James Williams said the additions would make it “an iconic theatre in the 21st century”.

Bennetts Associates previously carried out work on the theatre’s flytower, in 2015.

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