A £14-million care scheme offering self-contained apartments allowing older people to live independently has been officially opened.

Residents of Riverside Heights and the adjacent bungalows joined with guests from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, Together Housing and other partners to celebrate the grand opening of this specialised housing with care development in Darwen.

The development has 85 self-contained apartments available to rent, with a range of additional facilities including a residents’ lounge, restaurant, hair and beauty salon and secluded gardens.

It was first mooted in 2009 by Whitehall Liberal Democrat Cllr David Foster when he was borough social care boss.

Addressing guests, leader of the council, Cllr Mohammed Khan, said: "We recognised some time ago that there was a need for specialised accommodation and care for older people in Darwen, and we made it a priority to meet the needs of our vulnerable adults.

"There were challenges to overcome especially with funding, but with our clear vision and strategy we and our partners, Together Housing and ENGIE, the regeneration specialist, have worked hard to deliver this first class £14 million development.

"I have visited the development at all its milestones, from the first ground-breaking, the topping-out ceremony when the roof was completed and now I’m very proud to be here for the grand opening. I’m sure Riverside Heights will serve its residents and the local community for many, many years to come."

Sue Lewis, Together Housing Group head of supported housing, added: "With the Council and ENGIE, we wanted to make Riverside Heights and the bungalows great places to live. Older age shouldn’t be a barrier to enjoying life. Our housing with care schemes bridge the gap for people who might not be able to manage on their own but don’t need traditional residential care.

"It’s clear from the grand opening that a great community spirit is developing here. I credit the council and the staff of Together Housing for their determination to make this development happen, turning a vision into reality and creating a hugely valuable extra housing offer for local people."

The scheme is aimed at over-50s and has 85 self-contained apartments, with a range of additional facilities including a restaurant and gardens.

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

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

It also includes care and support for residents that can be stepped up as their needs increase.