More than £20 million worth of damage was caused to the tourist heart of central London on Monday when fire swept through buildings in Covent Garden, leaving a huge bill for insurers.

"The fire appears to have begun on the third floor of a film production studio and has completely destroyed the top of the premises," said McLarens Toplis director Peter Chart. "This part of Covent Garden is located within a conservation area so all renovations must retain the existing character," he added.

McLarens estimates that it will be a full year before the structure, on Earlham Street, is reinstated. McLarens Toplis is handling the large building and rent loss claims. Other insurers are dealing with individual tenants' claims.