Britain’s first “women-only” tower block has received a green light from planners with men only being able to live in the tower block if they become a tenant’s partner. The 102 flats will be built in west London and will be available for rent to single women.
The building was founded in 1920 as part of the suffragette movement.
The groundbreaking development aims to “challenge gender inequality and provide much-needed homes for women”.
Each home in the building will have a deep balcony and will be designed specifically for women
Details could include slightly lower kitchen work surfaces and careful attention to ventilation to ensure comfort for menopausal women, said the landlord of Women’s Pioneer Housing (WPH).
The unique apartments will be a blend of one-bed and two-bed flats, 100 percent of which will be affordable.
The only way a tenant could be male is if they are the adult child of a female tenant and inherit the tenancy.
Transgender women, including people intending to undergo gender reassignment, will be allowed, but men who cross-dress, transgender men, and anyone with a known history of male violence against women or children will not.
Chief Executive at the WPH, Tracey Downie, told The Guardian that the development would be home to women who “have been unable to afford good affordable housing themselves because of their level of income or vulnerability”.
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This could be due to them having been sexually harassed by a private landlord, are full-time mothers relying on income from a partner from whom they are now separated, or have been the victim of domestic violence.
Ms Downie said: “Providing more good-quality, affordable homes for women is critically important, particularly during this cost-of-living and energy crisis.”
“The benefit is security,” said one woman who has lived in a current WPH property on the site since she was a previously homeless student 20 years ago.
“We’re not dealing with different types of people moving up and down [the stairs] all the time. I feel comfortable because I am around women only.”
Some local residents had registered their support of the plans.
One said: “The proposal seeks to provide 100 light and spacious homes for those who need it. I am aware that life circumstances can change in an instant, so the plan to offer 100 women renewed lives has to be good.”
However, not all were in support of the proposed new flats.
Some argued that such a high concentration of women “will put the women at risk” and that “single women would find a high-rise very unpleasant”.
And Secretary of the Mill Hill Park Residents’ Association, Corinna Stowell, said: “While we support the aims of the WPH association and recognise the need for the redevelopment, as the existing accommodation does not meet today’s required standards, we are concerned about the massing and the height of the proposed building, and particularly its 15-storey section.”
The scheme is being developed in partnership with L&Q, one of London’s largest housing associations.
WPH is also planning to build another low-rise women’s-only complex in Shepherd’s Bush, in west London.
WPH’s latest annual review said: “There is no region in England where a single woman on an average woman’s salary can afford to rent a private-sector home of her own.
“The gender pay gap builds up over a lifetime and older women are particularly impacted.”