A major new £6.75million extra care housing scheme designed to help older and disabled people to live independently has been officially opened in Beverley.
The ambitious development, which has been funded jointly by East Riding Council, the Homes and Communities Agency and the Department of Health, features 40 self-contained two-bedroom apartments available to tenants at an affordable rent.
Extra care is a relatively new form of housing with this scheme, which has been called Rita Hunt Court, being the first of its kind owned and managed by the council.
Councillor Richard Harrap, East Riding Council portfolio holder for adult and carer services, said: “With an ageing population living in the East Riding investment in this type of supported affordable housing is vital and will undoubtedly make a real difference to the lives of residents while helping to reduce the pressures often experienced by those caring for a loved one.
“This ambitious project was born out of a need for specialised housing for older and disabled adults which was identified in the East Riding by the council and it is fantastic to now see how the project has come to fruition thanks to the hard work of all the teams involved.”
A 24/7 care team is based on site providing around the clock care and support to residents who also benefit from communal facilities including a lounge, laundry, assisted bathing, treatment room and hobby/meeting room.
In 2013 the council’s housing strategy and development team identified the need for more specialised housing for older and disabled people and submitted a bid to the Homes and Communities Agency under the Care and Support Specialised Housing Fund, which is jointly funded by the Department of Health.
The council successfully bid for £1million, with the remainder of the funding coming from capital investment and prudential borrowing.
The facility, which was constructed by local contractor Geo. Houlton and Sons over the course of just over two years, saw the council’s Infrastructure and Facilities team working closely with Adult Services.
Coun Symon Fraser, portfolio holder for asset management, housing and environment, said: “This facility has been made possible thanks to the council having a firm grip on its finances and being able to plan for the future, taking the opportunity to provide affordable rented accommodation that will help older and disabled people to lead independent lives.
“This development has not only provided modern, spacious and affordable housing but also employment and training opportunities for the local area. It is incredibly rewarding to see how everyone has worked together to create what is a very impressive facility which will benefit local residents for years to come.”
The scheme has been called Rita Hunt Court after the late Rita Hunt who was a strong advocate for extra care housing and promoting independent living for older and disabled adults in the East Riding.
A trust fund has been set up by Rita’s family to support social activities for residents living at the scheme.
David and Diane Atkinson have been living at Rita Hunt Court with their daughter Sian, who is disabled, since September 2015, a move which they have described as a “godsend.”
Diane said: “This is a godsend, it is everything we could have wished for and more twice over. When you have a disabled child you can feel lonely but here we are never lonely. Sian absolutely loves it here too.”
Chairman of the council, Coun Peter Turner, gave a speech and cut the ribbon at the official opening ceremony which also gave attendees the chance to tour the site and meet some of the residents.