TWO major care schemes for Herefordshire's fast ageing population got the go-ahead from planners this week.

Plans for a £15 million care "village" in Hereford and a complete re-build of Waverley House care home, Leominster, have been backed by the county's main planning committee.

A third plan to demolish and re-build the Leadon Bank home, Ledbury, is on hold until members can see the site for themselves. There are local concerns about the scale of the project.

The committee heard care for the elderly was a key priority.

Herefordshire already has an older age profile that outstrips the national average.

By 2011, the number of over-65s in the county is expected to go up by 20.7%, against a national average of 10.2%.

Over the same period, the number of over-80s should rise by 24.4% to 11,800, against a national average of 13%.

The Hereford scheme will see 96 apartments and bungalows for the 55-95+ age group built on the old Ledbury Road nursery site, previously used by the Unity Gardens project.

A range of social facilities, including a restaurant/bar, library, shop, gym, art studio and computer suite, are part of the plan.

The scheme will be run as a partnership between Herefordshire Council, the Primary Care Trust, Elgar Housing Association and the ExtraCare Charitable Trust.

About 700 people have already registered an interest in the 150 available places. Properties can be rented, part-owned or bought outright.

The committee heard "ageing, outdated" Waverley House would be demolished and a "care home fit for the 21st century" built in its place.

l At the same meeting, the committee passed plans to refurbish and extend the day-and-crisis-care centre at Woodside Residential Home in Ross-on-Wye.