A LANDMARK regeneration of the former Terry’s chocolate factory site in York could begin this year under plans which have been submitted for the development’s first phase to help counter the city’s affordable housing crisis.
There has been intense speculation over the future of the historic estate after confectionery production came to an end eight years ago in a huge blow to the city’s traditional manufacturing sector.
But developers announced yesterday that a detailed planning application has now been submitted to York Council to build dozens of new homes in the initial stage of the bid to transform the sprawling 27-acre site.
The move has been welcomed by senior politicians with York Council’s leader, Coun James Alexander, claiming the over-arching scheme to create a state-of-the-art business park and build hundreds of new houses and apartments is fundamental to helping the city’s economy blossom.
Coun Alexander said: “This is another major step forward for York. The council is committed to providing new homes and helping businesses thrive and we are delighted that we’re able to help bring this brownfield site forward for much-needed homes.
“The Chocolate Works is a central platform in that programme and we will do everything we can to support the development of this site. York is open for business, and this is a clear demonstration of that.”
The Yorkshire Post revealed in April that two of the UK’s leading property companies, Henry Boot Developments Ltd and the York-based housebuilder David Wilson Homes, had bought the site for an undisclosed sum from the previous owners, GHT Developments LLP.
The sale of the site, which is known as The Chocolate Works, came as York Council unveiled a city-wide vision to build 22,000 homes while 20 sites have been identified for economic development which could bring as many as 16,000 new jobs.
The re-development of the land will form a cornerstone of the draft Local Plan, which would be the first city-wide development brief since 1956. The new housing, on a 13.5 acre portion of the site, will help to address the city’s affordable homes crisis, with average property prices in excess of £201,000 while average wages are just £20,420.
While it had been hoped that work on a £75m programme to build a total of 270 houses and apartments would have started by the end of the summer, developers have only now submitted the detailed planning application for the first phase. Negotiations are continuing for the commercial element of the scheme, and plans for the next housing phase are still being finalised.
Outline planning approval was granted to the previous owners in 2010, although so-called Section 106 agreements to pay for infrastructure improvements and community facilities have only just been agreed. If detailed plans for 85 homes and a convenience store are backed by the council’s planning committee in November, work could begin before the end of the year with the first residents moving in by next summer.
The managing director of David Wilson Homes, Paul Newman, said: “We recognise the importance of The Chocolate Works to the city and in our detailed plans I believe we’ve gone the extra mile to ensure the house designs, lay-out, choice of properties and provision of green space is perfect for this location.
“As the housing market regains momentum, and given the relative shortage of new homes in the city, demand for these properties is likely to be strong so we expect to be firming up our plans for phase two relatively soon.”
A question mark has remained over the future of the Terry’s factory site since its closed in 2005 with the loss of more than 300 jobs.
GHT Developments LLP bought the site in 2006 and planning permission was given in 2010 after an earlier application was refused two years earlier.
Work began in March last year to prepare it for re-development, but GHT Developments LLP put it back on the market less than three weeks later.
Henry Boot Developments is handling the transformation of the commercial portions of the site, including the iconic protected buildings, which will be used for homes, offices, hotels, shops and restaurants.