BUILDING work on a scheme to increase elderly care housing and library services in Thirsk is expected to start this month.

Hambleton district councillors have approved plans to demolish the Cherry Garth residential care home in Chapel Street and replace it with 52 extra care flats, communal facilities and new public library.

Mayor of Thirsk, Councillor Cynthia Hesmondhalgh, said: “This is an excellent development for the town that will bring elderly people into the heart of the community.”

Thirsk county councillor Gareth Dadd said the scheme, which is due to be completed later this year, was long overdue and would serve as a massive boost to the town.

Extra care accommodation, which is being promoted by the Government, aims to bridge the gap between sheltered housing and residential care by allowing residents to remain in their own home alongside care and support.

The scheme by Housing 21, the UK’s largest non-profit care provider, and supported by North Yorkshire County Council will provide sufficient 31 two-bed and 21 single bed self-contained homes for the town’s rising number of elderly residents.

Eighty per cent of the flats will be offered at an “affordable” rent or through shared ownership, while the remainder will be offered for sale.

The development will also include a public library, which will offer more space for a greater range of services and facilities than at the current library in Finkle Street and cut the service’s costs through sharing a building.

It had initially been hoped the development would feature a new GP surgery and health centre on the site, including services provided in the neighbouring Lambert Community Hospital.

But to the dismay of councillors backing the plan last August, NHS bosses announced they had decided not to proceed with the plans as they were neither cost effective nor "clinically appropriate".

In a report to the district council’s planning committee yesterday, officers said while including a library in the scheme would harm the character and appearance of the Thirsk Conservation Area, a library would make it easier for the extra care residents to become active in the community.

It stated: “Whilst the search for alternative options for provision of a new library have not been exhaustive, no evidence has been presented to suggest that another opportunity exists at present.”