The new homes being constructed in front of the old Terry’s chocolate factory in York have a number of remarkable features, not least the aluminium window frames that have been coated in a burnished gold.
But why go to the expense when their usual grey colour is the height of fashion? “It’s a reference to Terry’s All Gold,” says Paul Newman, managing director of the Yorkshire East division of David Wilson Homes.
The subtle nod to the famous box of chocolates, which first went on sale in 1932, is part of a theme designed to celebrate the site’s history.
The development is called The Chocolate Works, while one of its apartment buildings is named Neapolitan after the famous box of miniature chocolate bars. Most impressive of all is a Chocolate Orange sculpture by Malton’s Sherburn Foundry. It will have pride of place on the avenue leading up to the old factory.
“We wanted a centrepiece and we had to make a contribution towards public art. We thought a Chocolate Orange was perfect,” says Paul.
The developer, a subsidiary of Barratt, is building 319 properties over the next four to five years and there will be a mix of apartments, townhouses and detached homes ranging in price from £199,995 for a one-bedroom flat and £519,995 for a townhouse to £799,995 for the luxurious detached show home. There will also be a shop and a concierge.
The first homes will be ready for occupation by September - a big step forward for the Terry’s site, which was abandoned ten years ago by Kraft when it moved production abroad with the loss of 300 jobs.
The land, buildings and landmark clock tower were bought for £26million by developers Grantside who were hampered by wrangles with York Council. They eventually got permission for a mixed use development but later put the site up for sale.
In May 2013, the historic factory was bought by Henry Boot Developments, which plans to turn it into 173 apartments. Chocolate maker Sophie Jewett, of York Cocoa House, also hopes to secure a base there and there are talks of a hotel and a care home. David Wilson Homes bought the bulk of the land. They could have built their familiar detached homes but opted for something more daring to reflect the site’s heritage.
They hired Richards Partington architects, who sought inspiration from the art deco factory. All the new properties are the cubes and rectangles favoured by the early Modernist architects of the 1920s and their rooves appear to be flat although, in fact, they have low pitches hidden by parapets.
The materials were chosen to mirror the old buildings and the clock tower and are a combination of red and white brick.
The attention to detail is impressive, especially on Hallmark House, which sits at the entrance to the development. The architect wanted stone colonnades, which came in at an extra half a million pounds, and there are glass panels between the balconies that are tinted in the colours of Neapolitan chocolates.
Paul Newman and sales director Paul Hogan are visibly proud of what they’ve achieved so far.
“It is by far the best scheme we’ve done in Yorkshire in my 29 years here. Everything is bespoke and expensive but it warrants it. As an example, normal bricks cost £200 per 1,000 and these were £400 and we’ve used granite kerbs instead of concrete,” says Paul Newman.
“We went to London to look at some of the big schemes there to make sure we got the interiors right, so we have 9ft high ceilings, walnut doors and integrated wine coolers.”
The homes are officially released for sale today but there has already been a huge amount of interest thanks to the location next to the Knavesmire and its racecourse.
“Just from our hoardings we’ve had 4,000 people register an interest and 11 of 43 properties being released this weekend have been reserved,” says Paul Hogan.
Racing fans are among those clamouring to buy as the site will have a pedestrian link to the racecourse. Downsizers too are champing at the bit.
“We haven’t even tapped into the London market yet and we expect a lot of interest from there,” says Paul Hogan.
*The Chocolate Works phase one is on sale from today, www.dwh.co.uk/thechocolateworks.