In the next few months, it is anticipated residents will move into Bentham’s new Extra Care accommodation – following a development process that benefited from determined community backing.

North Yorkshire has a network of Extra Care developments, offering independent living alongside community facilities and support, which have emerged since the initiative was devised in the early years of the last decade.

The blueprint emerged from our Care and Support Where I Live strategy and the Extra Care developments have proved hugely successful and popular.

A Bentham Extra Care Group was set up with the objective of helping to drive forwards a development for the community and, after some setbacks, plans were completed in 2018 and now a development of 72 homes is in the advanced stages of construction on the site of the old village school.

Some will be available for shared ownership, with others rented, and while householders will maintain their independence there will be facilities such as a bistro on site, with potential for residents to mix and make friends among both their neighbours and others who are expected to use the facilities.

Among those who helped drive the project forwards from within the community is Keith Hartley, who was among the first to recognise the benefits new accommodation could bring.

Rebecca Dukes, North Yorkshire’s Housing Development Manager, said: “The group has been instrumental in generating support for this.”

Keith helped by publicising developments as they occurred and the group’s members also engaged with the community, distributing questionnaires, and their dedication meant the council received a high level of feedback from residents.

“The support they gave us was brilliant, we have had really good community support as a result,” said Rebecca.

Extra Care helps to address head-on issues such is isolation, which can affect older people, and because they have trained care staff on site emergency assistance can be provided for residents who find themselves with unexpected difficulties.

When residents move in, Bentham will be North Yorkshire’s 28th Extra Care site, each designed specifically to meet the needs of its community.

Each involves a partnership including the County Council, a housing provider and care provider. The County Council made money available to support the scheme when Extra Care was established and has used grants from that funding to help ensure the network has been rolled out successfully.

Keith said he recognised the need for accommodation like Extra Care in Bentham after seeing a woman in her 90s moving to Gargrave when she needed residential care, because nothing was available in the town where she had spent her life. That resulted in the Bentham Extra Care Group being founded.

Stationmaster Gerald Townson is a member of the group, which has used the station building for its meetings.

Among its work, the group issued a questionnaire, which confirmed there was widespread public support for such facilities.

Keith and his wife will be moving into one of the flats, something he had not anticipated when the Extra Care Group was formed: “I had not the remotest thought it could apply to me when it all started, but it has come at just the right time.”