The sweet taste of home: Yorkshire developer revamps Rowntree factory as residents move in
Latimer Homes, part of Clarion Housing Group, has completed the first homes in its development in the former Rowntree factory.
The first residents are now in situ in the development, which will ultimately house 279 studios and 1-3 bedroom apartments, with 84 of them available through shared ownership this year alone.
The next phase in the community has seen work begin on neighbouring Cocoa Gardens, which will see 302 homes, made up of 2-4 bedroom houses and 1-2 bedroom apartments created. This project will also include affordable shared ownership properties, and the first homes will be available by the summer of 2024.
Latimer has also spoken to former Rowntree employees, to help develop a social history of the area.
Ann Davis from Vernon in British Colombia, Canada, worked in the factory for six years in the 1950s before emigrating to Canada. She fondly remembers BPR – the name Mr Philip Rowntree was known by – and his commitment to looking after staff welfare, even those suffering from ill health.
“I learned so much from them about compassion and caring and what great help was available. Men who could not come back to regular duties were given the chance to do light work in the ‘bag room’ where they could still be part of the Rowntree family.
“I look back on those six years with fondness and think what an influence it had on my life, and at that time how very loyal everyone felt to the family and company.”
The Clarion ethos
Richard Cook, Group Development Director at Clarion Housing Group, whose development arm Latimer Homes is delivering the Cocoa Works and Cocoa Gardens developments in York, stressed that affordable homes was a key priority for the company.
“The importance of delivering affordable, aspirational homes as part of the strategy for addressing the imbalance between an affluent South East and regions like Yorkshire should not be underestimated.
“There has been a net loss of 24,000 affordable homes in England since 1991 and research suggests that there are more than 156,000 householders currently on affordable housing waiting lists across Yorkshire[i]
“To achieve delivery of these homes and support among communities, genuine collaboration with local authorities across Yorkshire and central government is crucial. Developers and housing associations need to work with local authorities to understand the local challenges around housing delivery and the core needs of the communities they serve. A commitment to quality placemaking and delivering housing as part of sustainable communities, without putting unacceptable pressure on local services, is central to this.”
Clarion Housing Group is investing hundreds of millions of pounds across Yorkshire, delivering thousands of homes to meet the needs of communities.
It has also received a maximum grant of £250m from Homes England’s 2021-26 Affordable Housing programme, £40m of which will be used to deliver 800 new homes in Yorkshire.
Richard added: “When it comes to delivering homes that are both highly desirable and affordable, we believe the shared ownership model, where homeowners purchase a portion of a new property and can increase their share of ownership over time, has an important role to play.
“That’s why we’re offering shared ownership at two of our major schemes in York. At The Cocoa Works, our flagship redevelopment of the Rowntree’s factory in York, we are delivering 30 per cent of homes through shared ownership. At our adjacent Cocoa Gardens scheme, we will be offering 35 per cent of homes through affordable options, with 56 available through shared ownership.”
He also expressed his belief in the importance of regenerating existing homes to boost local economies and communities, but says no grants are available.
“However, while regeneration has a vital role to play across Yorkshire, no grant funding currently exists to support these transformative projects. To give levelling up the best chance of succeeding, this needs to change, and we need to see a cross-party commitment to building the homes we need both through regeneration and new development.”
Further information on The Cocoa Works, its history and the affordable options available can be found at thecocoa-works.com.