Anchor Hanover has been chosen to deliver the UK’s first ‘extra-care’ housing scheme for LGBT+ people, in south Manchester. Charles Taylor from Anchor Hanover takes Jack Wooler through the proposals.
What’s believed to be the first UK purpose-built housing scheme for older people in the LGBT+ community is making headway in Whalley Range, south Manchester, with Anchor Hanover chosen as the developer to deliver the scheme.
With the city’s older LGBT+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and other preferred identities) population growing, the £20m Russell Road LGBT+ project is set to deliver more than 100 apartments for people aged 55 or over. Providing a mix of affordable rent and shared ownership tenures, the homes are designed to be as accessible as possible for residents who identify as LGBT+, with the focus on Manchester locals.
England’s largest not-for-profit provider of housing and care for people in later life, Anchor Hanover formed from the merger of Hanover Housing Association and Anchor Trust. Its Extra Care schemes prioritise essential on-site services, such as catering, as appropriate to users’ needs in later life.
The Russell Road LGBT+ scheme is an example of how the provider, according to Charles Taylor, head of new business at Anchor Hanover, creates “safe, vibrant communities which enable residents to live independently as their needs and lifestyle change.”
The offer will be developed in collaboration with a local Community Steering Group – made up of local councillors, local residents, but also importantly members of the Manchester-based charity offering advice and support to the LGBT+ community, LGBT Foundation. The team is aiming to submit the first planning application in early 2022.
A GROWING LGBT+ EXTRA CARE NEED
According to the developer, there are already more than 7,000 people in Manchester over the age of 50 that identify as LGBT+, and this figure is expected to rise over the next two decades.
A recent LGBT Foundation report, commissioned by Manchester City Council, found higher levels of loneliness and isolation amongst older LGBT+ people, and fear of discrimination in existing accommodation. They also reported a desire for affordable, accessible and LGBT+specific accommodation where they can be open about their identity in later life. “As such,” says Taylor, “there is a clear need for new specialist later living communities.”
Thanks to funding from Homes England, the LGBT Foundation was able to carry out a further survey of the community’s needs and hopes for the scheme, as well as create an online Learning Journal to track the journey of the development from the early discussions which took place over five years ago.
“The Journal summarises the need for the Extra Care scheme, and how we have reached this point,” explains Taylor. It is based on interviews with those involved in the project thus far, and groups the lessons learned under a range of themes such as evidence of need, roles of partners and community engagement.
“The journal is an honest appraisal of the challenges and successes of the past, and it gives people the opportunity to share their views as the journal grows,” he adds.
It is hoped that, via the journal, councils and developers can see what has worked here and what can be done differently as they plan their own housing solutions for older LGBT+people. Russell Road LGBT+ Extra Care is set to be the first of a range of such schemes across the country, which it’s believed will follow the siting, location and design principles behind the report.
Paul Martin, CEO of the LGBT Foundation, comments on how the Manchester project is the first to meet an important need: “It’s fantastic to see the LGBT+Extra Care Scheme move forward into the next stages of development. Everyone deserves to have access to safe, affordable housing where they can be sure they feel secure and welcome.
“Many older LGBT+people have grown up in a world hostile to their identities, and are worried about their future, particularly if they are likely to require care in later life. This scheme is a vital and exciting step forward for our communities.” He adds: “The Learning Journal will track our journey and share recommendations for other schemes that will follow.”
Charles Taylor says that in creating this development to meet a specific set of requirements, Anchor Hanover aims to “give people the opportunity to live in an environment where they feel safe and part of a community, and are accepted for who they are.”
“This is all part of Anchor Hanover’s key priority – to provide homes where people love living in later life,” he adds.
According to Charles Taylor, the desire to develop an LGBT+ later living scheme goes back some years, the site first being purchased by Manchester City Council (MCC) specifically for the proposed development.
In 2020, the council went out to tender for the scheme. Following this competitive process, Anchor Hanover was chosen as the housing provider. According to Charles, it was selected from the shortlist based on its “credibility as an LGBT+ affirmative provider,” after demonstrating their experience in delivering similar projects across England, including New Larchwood, an LGBT+ inclusive retirement housing scheme in Brighton, and showing “ambition to create a facility that meets the needs of the city’s LGBT+ community.”
“In our bid,” explains Taylor, “we gave evidence of our existing LGBT+ affirmative policies and procedures we have in place to support our LGBT+ customers and colleagues, along with our development experience and understanding of sustainability.”
The team then partnered with LGBT Foundation, a Manchester-based charity offering advice and support to the LGBT+ community who have set up a Community Steering Group to put forward the community’s views (including the wider Whalley Range community) to ensure that Anchor Hanover effectively delivers the scheme and ensure its suitability, while complementing the local area.
Once the right site was acquired – at Whalley Range, in south Manchester, formerly holding a Spire Hospital – the council and the LGBT Foundation reportedly worked to develop strong relationships with the local community to help guide the scheme. Following these consultations, Manchester’s LGBT+ Extra Care scheme launched, and given the go ahead by the council’s executive in 2017.
Since then, the council has retained its close working relationship with the Foundation to develop the core principles of the scheme, how it should operate, and what care should be available onsite to support LBGT+ people as they get older.
“In collaboration with the Community Steering Group, we will develop the plans for the Russell Road site, with a view of submitting our first planning application in Easter 2022,” comments Charles.
Looking towards the project’s full design and development, Anchor Hanover is currently considering the options for the built form, working with Brewster Bye Architects and the Community Steering Group representing members of the LGBTF and Manchester council.
The intention is that the extra care style development is focussed on secure access and external spaces which meet ‘HAPPI’ (housing design for older people) standards, alongside a range of onsite facilities to support older people and provide an accessible community facility.
“The exact amenities are yet to be decided,” says Taylor, “but our Extra Care locations are designed to create safe, vibrant communities that enable residents to live independently as their needs and lifestyle change.”
A REAL NEED
Since Anchor Hanover began, more than 50 years ago, Taylor tells Housebuilder and Developer that it has expanded exponentially, and today serves more than 65,000 residents in 54,000 homes across almost 1,700 locations. Its residential care services employ the majority of the 9,000- strong workforce, providing services to residents at 114 care homes, and operating in more than 85 per cent of local councils in England.
Taylor believes that it is this experience which not only placed them as front runners among those considered for the development of the project, but has put them in the best position possible to push this specific agenda forwards: “There’s still a lot to be done around diversity and inclusion, but it’s important for Anchor Hanover to be at the forefront of developing affirmative LGBT+ majority housing as there is a real need for it, our insights and research within the LGBT+ community show this.”
He tells me the team have already been “overwhelmed” with support in Manchester since announcing the project in May this year, and have received some “great feedback, and lots of interest about what the scheme is going to deliver and bring to the local community.”
“I hope to see more projects like this come to fruition in the future to ensure LGBT+ communities feel safer at home,” Charles concludes.