The Trocadero on Shaftesbury Avenue has taken on many forms. It was built as a restaurant in 1896. In the 1980s, it became an exhibition centre and leisure complex. For almost 30 years its baroque façade concealed a kitsch ‘Funland’ money pit of flashing arcade games, bungee trampolines, never-working escalators and rides sponsored by Pepsi Max. The building was a Frankensteinian mix of rooms that vaguely fell under the banner of ‘entertainment’. Bits of it were closed down, others were later renovated into the stylish Picturehouse Central.
There were plans to turn parts of the Trocadeo into a TK Maxx which never came to fruition. A hotel opened on the site earlier this year. Most recently, The Aziz Foundation has put in a planning application to Westminster Council to turn the building’s upper and lower basements and ground floor into a mosque that would accommodate 1,000 worshippers. The area was previously home to a basement cinema, but has been derelict since 2006. As the building is so large, the development would take up less than 1.5 percent of the total space of the Trocadero.
The Aziz Foundation is an educational charity which was set up in 2015 to support disadvantaged communities across Britain. It’s owned by Asif Aziz, founder of property business Criterion Capital, which purchased the London Trocadero and Piccadilly Hotel for £225m in 2005. A document in the planning application pointed out the proposal would ‘provide an additional place of prayer to address the clear shortfall that currently exists within London’s West End’. A survey of the three mosques that serve the West End (Soho Mosque, Mayfair Mosque and Goodge Street Mosque) showed that they are at capacity, and often have to turn worshipers away due to lack of space.
The proposed mosque would also provide a café, educational spaces, prayer rooms and a centre that could be used by the whole central-London community, regardless of religion.
Find out more about the plans for the development here.
Meanwhile, another historic London venue, The George Tavern, is fundraising to survive.
Feel like you need another day off? Talks are underway for a new bank holiday in October.