Britain's first LGBT+ retirement community to open in London

The properties will be sold under a shared ownership scheme for those with modest budgets. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Britain's first LGBT+ retirement community is to open in London later this year, after securing a multi-million-pound loan from the city's mayor, a housing association announced on Tuesday (March 2).

Tonic Housing said the £5.7 million (S$10.5 million) loan from the Greater London Authority will help buy 19 properties in the Vauxhall area in the south of British capital.

Sales of the one- and two-bedroom homes on the top flour floors of the Norman Foster-designed Bankhouse development on the banks of the River Thames will begin in the coming months.

They will be sold under the shared ownership scheme that allows those with modest budgets to buy a share of a property from a non-profit housing association, which supplies housing, and pay rent on the rest.

Prices are likely to start from £135,000 for a 25 per cent share of a one-bed apartment and £180,000 for a 25 per cent share of a two-bed apartment.

Tonic called the scheme a "major milestone".

"There is no LGBT+ affirming provision with care currently in operation in the UK, despite there being a clearly defined need and demand from within the LGBT+ community," it added.

The company said "LGBT+ affirming" meant care, events, services and support at the development would be LGBT+-friendly, but would not exclude people who do not identify as such.

"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 Tonic Housing chief executive Anna Kear.

Similar assisted-living communities could be set up in London and other cities, she added.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the local authority's support was in keeping with the city's reputation as being "open diverse (and) inclusive".

"Older Londoners deserve to be able to enjoy their later years in comfort and security, surrounded by a thriving, supportive community," he added.

Tonic was set up in 2014 to address what it said were "the issues of loneliness and isolation of older LGBT+ people and the need for specific housing and support provision".

It has focused on London for its first project because it has the largest older LGBT+ population, estimated to be 145,000 people.

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