PROPERTY company Henry Boot is to start work on the former Terry’s Chocolate Factory in York this autumn following talks with renovation specialists and hotel operators.
The Sheffield-based firm is hoping to sign a contract by the end of June with a renovator with a long history of converting old mills into sympathetic dwellings.
Built in the 1920s, the Grade II listed Art Deco factory has become a landmark with its distinct clock tower.
Now Henry Boot has drawn up plans to turn the iconic five-storey building into 157 flats and plans to be selling from site in 2015.
The group is also in discussions with several hoteliers about plans to turn the two-storey, square building on Bishopthorpe Road into a hotel.
Following the sale of half the site, which already had residential planning consent, to housebuilder Barratt Developments last year, Henry Boot is keen to develop its half, which consists of 230,000 sq ft of listed factory buildings, 4.5 acres of cleared development land and 23 acres of green belt land.
Henry Boot’s finance director John Sutcliffe said that plans have been mentioned to relocate two schools on to the green belt land, but for now it will stay as green belt.
The update on the Terry’s site came as Henry Boot announced a 37 per cent increase in pre-tax profits to £18.4m for the year to December 31.
The group said 2014 has started well and house builders are painting an encouraging picture of increased activity, good land availability and rising prices. It added that it is confident it can perform well in 2014 and beyond.
The firm had expected housebuilders to sit on land purchases to conserve funds at the end of 2013, but instead they went ahead with the deals.
This meant that sales scheduled for 2014 slipped into 2013, boosting last year’s annual profits by 10 per cent.
Despite completing the land sales earlier than forecast, Henry Boot said it is comfortable with expectations for 2014.
It said its long-term investment programme and improving market conditions mean it should be able to recover the difference during 2014. New land developments include plans for 40 homes at Oulton near Leeds, 45 homes in Rothwell, south of Leeds, and 40 homes in Pontefract.
Analyst Andrew Gibb, at Investec, said: “The outlook continues to be positive, with the housebuilders pointing to increased activity and slowly rising prices and the market for property development strengthening further. The group has invested more heavily in land promotion and property development, which means that going into 2014 it has an unprecedented number of profitable land and property development sites to work on.”
Analyst Nick Spoliar, at WH Ireland, said: “Henry Boot has announced a good set of results, with pre-tax profits 37 per cent ahead and above our 10 per cent upgraded forecast, made in January, by two to three per cent.
“The outlook is good, with a brisk start to the year, increasing house-building activity, and market conditions improving across the board.
“Notably, Henry Boot is active on more sites than ever before.”