Vauxhall’s famous gay clubs might need to stage a zimmer frame night soon.
Less than half a mile away the UK’s first LGBT+ retirement community is set to open, thanks to a £5.7 million loan from the Mayor of London.
It will buy 19 homes within the Norman Foster-designed One Housing Bankhouse in Vauxhall to form a community to support elderly LGBT+ people in later life.
Tonic Housing, who are behind the initiative, said homes will be up for sale in late Spring 2021, with residents expected to move in this summer, serving Lambeth, which has the largest LGBT population in the UK.
The move is described as a “major milestone for LGBT+ housing”. Tonic Housing vowed to “create a unique offering of housing with care that celebrates LGBT+ identities with the community at the very heart of their homes.”
Staff at the houses will receive LGBT+ training and will organise events that coincide with the interests of residents, including collaborations with other LGBT+ organisations. Expect regular trips to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern or the Eagle, a few more seconds further along Kennington Lane on a mobility scooter.
The complex has one and two bedroom homes, a restaurant, and a community space overlooking the Thames.
Tonic Housing chief executive Anna Kear said: “We are making history, 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.
“These first homes, which 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 complement 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.”
Lambeth council leader Cllr Jack Hopkins 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.”
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