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Flagship Lego store blocked from having queue barriers

Westminster Council say barriers outside the Leicester Square toy store would not be safe

24 February, 2017 — By Alina Polianskaya

A life-size Lego tube carriage is one attraction at the store in Leicester Square
CROWDS outside the new flagship Lego store are so big that for months there have been queues of people outside waiting to catch a glimpse of the array of colourful plastic creations within.

But this week the popular toy store has been blocked from putting up queue barriers by Westminster Council, which says they would jeopardise the safety of passers-by.

Peter Handley, from the Westminster Society, objected to its plans saying the group feared “the concept could form an undesirable precedent to be copied elsewhere in Leicester Square”.

The toy store, which opened in November, contains a giant Lego tube station made of 637,903 bricks, with a life-size Lego Shakespeare taking a ride alongside a Queen’s guard. A Lego mascot named Lester is also a popular attraction.

It is based inside the recently redeveloped Communications House, which previously contained an Angus Steakhouse. Lego wanted barriers “to be used on occasions when the number of visitors to the store is more than the permitted fire occupancy of the property”. It added: “The designated area for the barrier system is in the same location as the previous tenants’ external seating.”

They argued that the barriers would take up the space that was previously used as a outdoor dining area, adding that the neighbouring McDonald’s and All Bar One also have al fresco dining spaces that would have be in line with their crowd barriers.

But planning officials said that while outdoor eating space added to an area’s character, a queue system would not.

On Tuesday the planning committee refused the barriers saying they would have an “unacceptable impact on safe movement of pedestrians and the character and appearance of the area”.

The planning team said the area is famed for its open square, range of entertainment and al fresco dining, so adding queue barriers would not be compatible, as it would effectively section off a part of the square to further retail use.

A Lego spokesman said: “We are excited about the popularity of the store – reception has been incredible.”

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