The regeneration programme proposes to build a stage for festivals, pedestrianise Lisle Street, create space for a further 100 shops, redevelop the gateway to Chinatown and add traditional Chinese gates at the two other entrances. It will take less than a year to build.
The redevelopment aims to revive visitor numbers, which have fallen as a result of the congestion charge and Sars outbreak, said council media officer Nick Dines.
However, the proposals face resistance from the local Chinese community. They believe that businesses will be evicted and replaced with Western-managed companies, which they fear could destroy the character of the area.
Westminster has sent out 2,500 consultation packs to businesses and residents, to be returned by 3 March.
The council’s Cantonese-speaking Chinatown liaison officer is also visiting businesses to explain to workers the council’s proposals and to encourage feedback.
An accompanying media relations campaign will target the UK-based Cantonese media, such as the Sky TV Chinese Channel and the newspaper, Sing Tau, as well as TV and press in London.