COUNCIL and social housing bosses climbed onto the roof of a long-awaited new scheme for the elderly to celebrate it is on track to open on schedule in the spring.

They joined in ‘topping out’ Riverside Heights, the key sheltered accommodation block of 85 flats at the heart of the Shorey Bank development in Darwen.

The completion of tiling of the roof marks the end of an eight-year saga since the scheme was originally proposed by Whitehall Liberal Democrat Cllr David Foster when he was borough social care boss in 2009.

The traditional ‘topping out’ ceremony celebrated the final phase of work on the highest point of the scheme.

The £12million Riverside Heights project is a joint scheme by Blackburn with Darwen Council, Together Housing Group and Keepmoat Regeneration.

It is aimed at local people aged over 50 will have85 self-contained apartments, with additional facilities including a residents’ lounge, restaurant, hair and beauty salon and secluded gardens.

Another 34 two-bedroom bungalows being built on the site (between Frederick Street, Robin Bank Road and Duckworth Street) will be available to similar applicants.

Many of its facilities will be open to the local community as well as residents of Riverside Heights and the bungalows on the new Shorey Bank Way being built as part of the scheme.

The whole ‘housing with care’ development provides on-site care services tailored to individual needs to enable older people to live independently for longer.

Cllr Mohammed Khan, leader of Blackburn with Darwen Council, said: “I believe that this exciting development will meet the needs of older people across the borough for years to come.

“ I hope it will have a positive impact for the whole area, helping older people enjoy their lives in new, purpose built homes within the community.”

Sue Lewis, Together Housing’s head of supported housing, said: “This special project means we will be able to offer a fantastic range of new homes for older people in Darwen.”

Frank Mondino, area director north west for Keepmoat said: “We are pleased to celebrate this key milestone of this unique development which addresses the increasing need for supported living in the UK.”

Cllr Foster said: “This is good news. It has been many years in the making but will be a real benefit to local elderly people and the wider Darwen community.”

Cllr Mustafa Desai, borough health and adult social care boss, said: “It is great to see such rapid progress and the scheme is looking fantastic, I want to give huge thanks to all partners who are working incredibly hard on this.