Plans for Soho’s ‘one stop shop’ for LGBT community move forward

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

Plans for a LGBT centre offering health and social care services, business support and an exhibition space in Soho are moving forward.

Bids are now being considered from consultancy companies to carry out an in-depth feasibility study into the centre, which could model itself on the famous San Francisco LGBT Centre.

The bidding process was officially launched at the annual conference of LGBT community group Kairos in Soho on July 30.

The council estimates that 10% of the 4,000 residents in the area are gay, lesbian or transgender, and if the plan goes ahead the centre will be the largest of its type in the UK.

“The community has created a great opportunity here but the lack of a central accessible location for the London LGBT community means that the average citizen has little opportunity to inform or take part in the crucial process of social change,” said Jane Standing, chief executive of Kairos.

“We are talking about a creative space where the community can gain support, stay informed and take part in community action.”

The proposal was voted the most popular out of 65 initiatives in the Soho Action Plan, a long-term plan to regenerate the area.

Projects include creating a virtual museum to document Soho’s vibrant history, increased support to small businesses and improving street lighting and paving.

Westminster also plans to remove all unlicensed sex shops from the area.

Following a series of joint intelligence-led operations with the Metropolitan Police the number has already been cut from 52 to eleven.

“Lesbian, gay, bi-sexual and transgender residents, workers and visitors are an important and valued part of the Soho community and we know the concept of a “one-stop-shop” for their health, business and community needs is popular,” said Councillor Alastair Moss, chairman of Westminster’s planning committee.

“Now we want to look carefully at the logistics and practicalities to see if we can help make this exciting concept a reality.”