A £320,000 scheme to create a hub for older people in Otley has taken a major step forward.

Otley Action for Older People (OAOP) is hoping to transform the Otley Old People's Welfare Centre so it can meet the changing needs of residents.

As part of its fundraising drive the charity, working with the centre's trustees, has applied to secure £153,000 from the Town Council.

This week councillors gave unanimous backing to the scheme in principle, which clears the way for OAOP to make a formal application to the Investing in Otley Fund.

Chair Councillor Ray Georgeson (Lib Dem, Danefield) said: "I am delighted to see this important project move forward to the next stage.

"The town council will, if it approves the application, proceed to a loan application to the Public Works Loan Board in order to provide this substantial support to the investment.

"As OAOP now proceeds to a full application we are particularly keen to see energy efficiency and the potential for greener energy generation, from renewable sources, integrated into their project - and will work with the group to make this happen.

"This is a great investment in the town's older generation that needs to also remember the younger generation in minimising its environmental impact."

OAOP's Project Manager, Sue Trainor, hailed the decision.

She said: "The development of the Old People’s Welfare Centre is a forward-thinking project that is preparing for the changing and evolving needs of the older people in the community.

"Therefore to have the full support of the council for this joint venture between us and the trustees of the centre's Welfare Management Committee is brilliant news."

The scheme would see the downstairs of the welfare centre, on Crossgate - which is now OAOP's base - completely refurbished and a new office created.

Disabled toilets would also be added while the existing facilities would be moved.

The town council has set aside £40,000 to cover loan interest repayments for infrastructure projects it decides to support through borrowing.

Earlier this year it welcomed an Expression of Interest from Sport Chevin and Prince Henry's Grammar School for a £710,000, all-weather sports pitch scheme.

Cllr Georgeson added: "With the OAOP project and the Prince Henry's/Sport Chevin proposal our Investing in Otley Fund now has two excellent projects in the pipeline.

"If both are successful in their external fundraising and project development, they will deliver more than one million pounds of capital investment in projects that benefit all generations and improve health, wellbeing and quality of life.

"The council's possible contributions of about £350,000 to these projects will be taken mainly as loans from the Public Works Loan Board, for which future repayment provision has already been made.

"This is a clear plan to invest in the town's infrastructure, in response to community needs, and we will be working closely with both projects and wishing them well as they develop their applications."