A YORK-based charity is planning a £4 million investment in new state-of-the-art homes designed especially for people with visual and sensory impairments.

The Wilberforce Trust has drawn up plans for 30 apartments, just off Tadcaster Road, that will include the latest technology and design features.

The charity is also planning to put new offices and training rooms on the site, as part of long term plans to move staff away from the existing HQ in Huntington.

Trust chief executive Philippa Crowther said they had been supporting people with visual impairments for more than 180 years, but needed to keep adapting.

“It’s essential that as support models change we adapt, so that we continue providing high quality support, training and services that give independence and quality of life to people with sensory impairments.

“This means that we need to ensure our accommodation is suited to the way in which people wish to live enabling us to continue to deliver individual support, whilst encouraging and creating opportunities for tenants to be as independent as possible.”

The trust is set to invest £4.3 million in the new apartments and is also trying to raise a further £1.5 million to provide the community hub facilities that will “put the heart into the development,” Ms Crowther added.

Clinical facilities in the development will include optometry and low vision testing and assessment, advice, and an information and equipment centre.

Tenants at the trust’s existing homes and their families have been consulted on the plans to bring all the homes onto the single site.

A public consultation event was held in July to let neighbours and people in the community give their feedback.

Vehicle access will come off The Grove. As part of the proposals there will be 27 parking spaces for staff and visitors, along with 13 new parking spaces designated for use by St Leonard’s Hospice.

The Wilberforce Trust is one of York’s oldest charities. It traces its roots back to 1833 when the Yorkshire School for the Blind was first opened in memory of William Wilberforce. When the school closed in 1968, the Wilberforce Home for the Blind was established.

That home was closed in the early 21st century, and residents were given the chance to become tenants in shared properties.

The trust currently manages six properties in York, and as well as its supported accommodation it helps people with sensory loss with services like assessment, low vision clinics, visual awareness and IT and technology training, group activities and rehabilitation.