UK’s first LGBT+ retirement community given green light

A housing association is to begin work on opening the UK’s first LGBT+ affirming retirement community after securing a £5.7 million loan from the Mayor of London.

The support from the GLA Community Housing Fund will enable Tonic Housing to purchase 19 properties at Bankhouse, a One Housing older living scheme in Lambeth. Tonic will become the UK’s first provider of LGBT+ affirmative housing, with sales for 1 and 2 bedroom shared ownership homes due to begin later this spring.

Tonic@Bankhouse will create a unique offering of housing with care that celebrates LGBT+ identities with the community at the very heart of their homes. Tonic will co-create events and activities with residents based on their interests, including collaborations with other LGBT+ organisations and support providers. One Housing provides a flexible range of on-site care and support packages, with all the Bankhouse staff having LGBT+ training.

Bankhouse was designed by world-renowned architect Norman Foster, and consists of high-quality one and two-bedroom homes, with an on-site restaurant, beautiful community space overlooking the river Thames, a floating garden and a roof terrace with stunning views of central London.

Anna Kear, CEO, Tonic Housing, said: “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. We applaud the Mayor of London for recognising and supporting the needs of older LGBT+ Londoners.

“We intend this to be the first of many Tonic retirement communities, achieved by working in partnership in London and other cities. These first homes, that are already built and currently empty, will enable people who need and want this accommodation to have the benefit of it immediately. Working with One Housing, we can compliment the excellent care services that they provide for residents in the scheme.

“We intend that future Tonic schemes will provide a range of tenures directly, created through further acquisitions or new developments. Bankhouse is an important milestone in Tonic’s evolution. We’re so excited to get our future residents settled in their new homes and living in our community. Moving in is just the beginning!”

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London, said: “I am proud to support Tonic in creating the UK’s first LGBTQ+ retirement community. 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.”

Cllr Jack Hopkins, leader of Lambeth Council, said: “I am delighted to see that such an innovative and positive new development for older LGBTQ+ people is happening here in Lambeth. Our borough is one that is truly diverse – we are really fortunate to have such a strong and thriving LGBTQ+ community living, working and visiting Lambeth.

“I want to thank the Tonic Housing team for their efforts, as well as our own council officers for working so hard together with One Housing colleagues to turn vision into reality. Key to this too has been the strong support from the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, and his GLA team in providing funding to get the scheme well and truly off the ground. I look forward to visiting the site soon – and welcoming the new Tonic@Bankhouse LGBTQ+ residents to their new homes, here in Lambeth.”

Richard Hill, chief executive at One Housing, added: “We are delighted to be working alongside Tonic Housing and the GLA to provide homes for older LGBT+ people. We have a long history of investing in homes and communities and providing assisted living to older people. We look forward to welcoming new LGBT+ customers to Bankhouse where they’ll be able to enjoy all the advantages of independent living with on-site care and support when they need it.”

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