Russell Road in Whalley Range has been confirmed as the location for the UK’s first Extra Care scheme designed for older LGBT people.
Manchester has for many years been a champion of LGBT rights and has a proud history of pioneering support for the community.
In 2013, the City Council commissioned research through the LGBT Foundation that indicated higher levels of loneliness and isolation amongst LGBT older people, and a lack of specific affordable accommodation where they can be open about their identity later in life.
Manchester’s LGBT population is growing and more than 7,000 people over the age of 50 identify as LGBT across the city. The number of LGBT people over the age of 65 is expected to rise significantly in the next 20 years.
These pioneers have faced discrimination during their lifetimes and although society has become more LGBT friendly, discrimination does still exist.
Following planning approvals, the key site in in the heart of the Whalley Range community in South Manchester will include around 77 Extra Care properties – half for affordable rent and half for outright sale – and although designed to support the care needs of older LGBT people, the scheme will be open to anyone aged 55 and over. (See below for more information)
Whalley Range was chosen due to its vibrant and diverse community, with good local amenities. Bringing an Extra Care facility to the site will attract a stable group of new residents who will add to and benefit the community, while the development will look to enhance the neighbourhood without impacting on the area’s conservation status.
A demolition application for the former Spire Hospital at the chosen site will be submitted mid-December following an initial consultation event with local people held this week. A full planning application for the proposed scheme will be submitted next year, following consultation with the LGBT and local communities.
The Russell Road scheme is one of several Extra Care schemes planned across the city that will deliver almost 500 homes in the next three years, providing high quality housing for older people while freeing up social or family housing elsewhere in the city.
The Russell Road site will also accommodate around 12 family homes for general sale to help meet demand for quality family housing in the area.
The Extra Care properties will remain affordable to Manchester people and will be supported by well-trained and experienced staff. Pets will also be welcome at the scheme.
Cllr Bev Craig, Manchester City Council’s Executive member for Adult health and well-being and Lead Member for LGBT issues, said: “For decades Manchester has been the champion of the LGBT community and it’s with a huge amount of pride that we are able to continue this commitment with the UK’s first LGBT Extra Care scheme.
“Older LGBT people tell us that as they grow older they can fear discrimination, particularly in relation to their care needs and this scheme will offer access to care on-site, should you need it, while remaining completely independent. Many Extra Care residents still have jobs and have active lifestyles, but live in a welcoming and supportive community that allows them to grow older in a positive way.
“Of course all Extra Care schemes are welcoming to LGBT people, but this particular scheme has a focus on LGBT people to meet specific care needs and to offer an understanding and open space where the community can be sure they will not face discrimination or prejudice for their sexuality or gender identity. Alongside this flagship scheme, we are working to make sure that we tackle discrimination in community, care home and care service settings.”
Cllr Suzanne Richards, Manchester City Council’s executive member for housing and regeneration, said: “It’s important that we act now to increase the housing choice for older people and create a wider range of housing options that suit their needs. Extra Care is open to anyone over the age of 55, helping to meet an area of housing demand that will increase as Manchester’s population continues to age.
“Investing in this type of follow-on accommodation also frees up family homes and social housing that is then made available for the next generation of Mancunians to build their lives in.”
Extra Care schemes are targeted developments for older people, offering independent living in apartments to rent and purchase for people aged 55 plus. A 24-hour care team is based on site to meet changing individual need and the schemes can offer facilities such as communal spaces, bistros and retail outlets, making them outward facing within a local community.
Extra Care schemes are not retirement villages, but quality housing for older people who want to retain their independence with the care facilities should they need them.
Other Extra Care schemes programmed in Manchester
Bowes Street, off Princess Parkway – 72 homes. Partnership between Manchester Council, MossCare St Vincents and Rowlinson. Due to complete 2020.
Wilbraham Road, Fallowfield – Specialist dementia scheme of 36 homes. Construction contractor currently out to tender. Due to complete 2020.
Planning permission for a scheme in Abbey Hey has been granted. Includes Council land and will be developed by Southway Housing. Due to complete 2021.
Southway have a second 56 homes development for Burnage Lane in partnership with the Council. Expected to complete 2020.
The feasibility of a Council-led scheme in Newton Heath is currently being evaluated. If approved, this scheme would be due to complete in 2021.