Councillors have backed £16 million plans to support the development of  ‘extra care’ housing across Hertfordshire, as forecasts show the county’s older population is set to grow.

‘Extra care’ housing is made up of developments of homes for over-55s, where residents can be part of a community and access care – but still have the independence of living in their own homes.

There are already 1,023 ‘extra care’ places across the county. But with estimates suggesting there will be an additional 70,000 older people in Hertfordshire by 2030, the county council believes there should be more.

Hertfordshire County Council has now drawn up plans to invest in the development of a number of ‘extra care’ developments across the county.

And on Tuesday (October 22) the proposals cleared the first hurdle, when they were backed by a meeting of the adult care and health cabinet panel.

However, they will still need the backing of the county council’s cabinet before they can go ahead.

According to the business case,  investment in ‘extra care’ housing – which can be rented or privately owned – could ultimately save the council money.

That’s because it’s been found to improve the quality of life and long-term health of the over-55s – delaying any need for additional care or residential care.

And preventing – or delaying – the need for residential care saves the council money.

“Research shows that people generally do better in the enabling environment of an extra care home, which can help reduce, delay and prevent additional care needs arising, and is more cost-effective for both self- or partially funding residents and the council,” says the business case for the investment.

“This is better for individuals, better for their families and carers, and better for the public purse.

“‘Extra care’ offers residents in Hertfordshire a real housing alternative, where they can grow older in a safe, secure and attractive environment, supporting their care and health needs, and maintaining their independence and community connections.

“The council believes that this is both morally and financially sound.”

Meanwhile, it was also reported that older residents moving into ‘extra care’ homes could free-up larger houses in the county, needed by larger families.

If the cabinet also backs the plans, the county council will proceed with the first phase of the project – including investment of £16 million.

As part of the plan, the council could make some of its own land available for the developments.

It may also make grants available to allow housing providers to build to a higher quality and improve affordability for residents.

Councillors were told that this investment may improve the ‘viability’ of individual schemes for housing developers.

It is hoped that the plan will stimulate the market to meet the demand for 3,539 additional homes – of which at least 1,705 would be needed for affordable rent.

The details of exactly how the £16 million would be spent were discussed by the cabinet panel in private.

The proposal will be considered by a meeting of the cabinet on Monday (October 28).