London's first office block aimed at gay and lesbian businesses has opened in Covent Garden. The former vegetable warehouse on Macklin Street displays a sign saying it has 'gay friendly offices to let.

Jeremy Norman, who is managing director of the building's landlord,

Citychance, said that the idea was

to provide an environment where gay businesses can function in a non-

discriminatory atmosphere.

'This policy is inclusive, not exclusive. As far as I know there has never been a building in London which has been promoted in this way. I, as a gay man, have suffered discrimination, I know what it's like to be uncomfortable in an environment where gay people aren't welcomed.

'We are aiming at small businesses of up to 12 people who want to feel comfortable about the way they dress and act, and not be ostracised.

Businesses which have moved into the 30,000 sq ft complex include a gay public relations firm, a solicitor who deals mainly with homosexual clients, and a design company.

Some tenants are corporate or not gay but Mr Norman, who founded the gay nightclub Heaven, hopes the block's location five minutes' walk from Soho, the hub of London's pink economy, will enhance its appeal.

(Photograph omitted)