The first UK retirement community designed for LGBT+ people is set to open this year in London after securing funding from City Hall.
Sadiq Khan, the mayor, has backed the project with a £5.7m loan, which will be put towards buying 19 flats in Vauxhall that will be made available on a shared-ownership basis from late spring,
The one- and two-bedroom apartments will be supported by care facilities as well as events and activities by housing association Tonic Housing, which says the focus of the service will be to “celebrate LGBT+ identities” while working with established community organisations and support providers.
The housing association said it wanted to make the community “genuinely affirming of the lives, histories, needs and desires of LGBT+ people”, adding this “does not imply exclusion of those who do not identify as LGBT but actively values those who respect and celebrate LGBT+ people”.
The Bankhouse assisted living facility was designed by Norman Foster – the architect behind the British Museum’s great court and London’s ‘Gherkin’ skyscraper and overlooks the Thames with a restaurant, floating garden and roof terrace.
Mr Khan said: “London is an open, diverse, inclusive city and I’m delighted to see these long-held plans come to fruition with the help of this loan and my community-led housing hub.
“Older Londoners deserve to be able to enjoy their later years in comfort and security, surrounded by a thriving, supportive community.
“I look forward to seeing this realised at Bankhouse and to supporting Tonic’s work to establish further LGBTQ+ affirming developments in the years to come.”
Anna Kear, chief executive of Tonic Housing, said the facility would be the first of many LGBT-friendly retirement communities the company plans to open in the UK.
“We are making history today, realising a long-held dream to provide a safe place for older LGBT+ people to live well, in a community where they can be themselves and enjoy their later life,” she said.
“We applaud the mayor of London for recognising and supporting the needs of older LGBT+ Londoners.”