Londen, Engeland
Verenigd Koninkrijk
Notting Hill, 111-117 Lancaster Road London Lighthouse Aids Memorial Tuin sinds 1 Juli 1990
Aids charity makes 'upsetting' decision to sell centre Diana visited
A London Aids centre made famous by frequent visits by the late Princess of Wales is to be sold because the Terrence Higgins Trust charity can no longer afford its upkeep. Charity bosses admit that news of the London Lighthouse’s closure will be “upsetting” for people who have connections with the former hospice, which opened in 1988 and was one of the first to treat patients with Aids.
Community groups are scrambling to raise the money to buy the site in Ladbroke Grove. It houses a number of charities, including some Terrence Higgins Trust workers, a domestic violence unit and a refugee group.
Diana first visited the building in 1989 and often turned up unannounced to talk to patients, as well as making high-profile appearances for the charity. Sir Elton John and the late Dame Elizabeth Taylor also visited the centre, which pioneered services for people with HIV and Aids. It boasts an award-winning garden where the ashes of some patients have been buried.
Prince Charles paid tribute to Diana’s work when he toured the centre in 2000 and last year Princes William and Harry wrote to the Terrence Higgins Trust to mark its 30th anniversary.
Paul Ward, deputy chief executive at the trust, said: “A recent review of our freehold properties in London concluded that Lighthouse West London requires considerable financial investment to bring it up to scratch. Unfortunately, with pressure on our finances, we cannot afford to give the building the refurbishment it deserves. “Therefore, a decision has been made to close the centre and sell the freehold. This will not only help our charity to sustain vital services for people living with HIV, but will also give Lighthouse itself a much-needed new lease of life.” He added: “We know that some people will find this news upsetting. Lighthouse means a great deal to those of us who lived through the early years of the HIV epidemic, or who have a personal connection with the building.”
The building has been listed as a community asset under the Localism Act, which means it cannot be sold for housing or retail, but it could be turned into a free school or another scheme not linked to its origins. Community groups have six months to raise the money to buy the site. Mary Gardiner, chief executive of the Kensington and Chelsea social council, which is based at the centre, said: “The community campaigned for this building to be here… It is a haven for community groups and vulnerable people and has been for over 30 years. It simply must stay under community control.”
Photo © Evening Standard

14 Augustus 2013
Evening Standard, London