Work has begun on a new sheltered housing scheme where elderly people will be looked after in their homes.

Patching Lodge in Freshfield Road, Brighton, is being knocked down and replaced with a seven-storey block containing 76 flats, a restaurant, hairdresser, chiropodist, coffee bar and shop.

Work is due to be finished in spring 2009 and there will also be an office with an alarm system, which will provide 24-hour care for residents while allowing them to live independently and self-sufficiently in their own flats.

The project was selected as one of only five homes in the country for £3 million of government funding.

The current building was built in 1974 and is now run-down and out of date. Former residents have been rehoused and will get first preference on the new flats - 26 of which will be for sale, ten offered on shared ownership basis and 40 up for rent.

Denise D'Souza from the city council's social care team said: "Everyone involved in this project is working to the ultimate goal of improving facilities and services for older people in need of care and support.

"Many people see extra care housing as the best way of ensuring their independence as their care needs increase."