UK's first LGBT retirement community funded by Mayor of London to open within months

Jessica Carpani
·3 min read
LGBT member flashes the sign of victory as he holds a rainbow flag in Istanbul - OZAN KOSE/AFP
LGBT member flashes the sign of victory as he holds a rainbow flag in Istanbul - OZAN KOSE/AFP

The UK’s first LGBT retirement community gets go ahead after being granted a £5.7 million loan from the Mayor of London.

Tonic Housing has used the loan to purchase 19 flats at Bankhouse in Vauxhall, which will be available to buy on a shared-ownership basis in late spring, with the first residents expected to be moved in by mid-summer.

Potential residents can register their interest with Tonic Housing, as the sales process doesn’t open until later this Spring.

The one and two-bedroom apartments will be coupled with care, events and activities, which the housing association says will "celebrate LGBT identities", working with established LGBT organisations and support providers.

Heterosexual people will not be prevented from entering the scheme, but it is designed to be affirming for members of the LGBTQ+ community.

Bankhouse in Vauxhall -  Tonic Housing/PA
Bankhouse in Vauxhall - Tonic Housing/PA

Tonic Housing said services will be "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".

Bankhouse, run by One Housing, is an assisted living facility designed by renowned architect Norman Foster which overlooks the River Thames and features an on-site restaurant, floating garden and roof terrace.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan is an avid supporter of the LGBTQ+ community and last year granted emergency funding for eleven LGBTQ+ venues hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Each received grants from the Mayor’s Culture at Risk Business Support Fund of between £5,000 and £23,000 to help in the short-term with rent, staffing and supplier costs.

He said he is "delighted" and "proud" to be helping to open the 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," said Mr Khan.

"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."

Bankhouse in Vauxhall -  Tonic Housing/PA
Bankhouse in Vauxhall - Tonic Housing/PA

Tonic Housing CEO Anna Kear has said the facility will be the first of many LGBT-friendly retirement communities they plan 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," said Ms Kear.

"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.

"We're so excited to get our future residents settled in their new homes and living in our community."