A care centre could be built on Teesside to provide a one-stop support facility for the elderly.

The planned intermediate care centre of excellence, in Middlesbrough, would be geared to reducing the number of older people who would otherwise be admitted to hospital, residential care and nursing care.

It would provide rehabilitation for older people, day care facilities and also be a base for staff who visit older people in their homes.

Councillors at Middlesbrough yesterday gave their approval to the £2m development which is being planned with Middlesbrough and Eston Primary Care Group, Tees and North East Yorkshire NHS trust, South Tees Acute Trust and the independent sector.

Everything now hinges on the Government giving the go-ahead to the bid drawn up by the partners. The centre could open in 2004.

Colin McLeod, chief executive of Middlesbrough and Eston Primary Care Group, said yesterday: "We are delighted to be a major player in bringing the shared vision of a one-site care centre to reality.

"Once completed, the facility will be a major asset for the townspeople of Middlesbrough and a solid achievement for all the partner agencies."

Councillor Eddie Dryden, Middlesbrough's commissioner for social care, said: "This will be a major investment in quality care for older people.

"It is a prime example of partnership working between local agencies to achieve a better quality of life for a group of citizens.

"Bringing facilities together under one roof is a major exercise, but the outcome will be a seamless service based around the needs of older people.

"The numbers of older people are set to grow over the next decade and it is up to us to provide innovative solutions to their needs."