Plans revealed for almost 300 homes to be built on former Rowntree site in York

Plans for 299 homes to be built on part of the former Rowntree site in York’s Wigginton Road have been revealed.

The land is part of the Nestlé south site - next to the former Rowntree Almond and Cream factory buildings, where 279 new apartments are to be created.

Developers Latimer have submitted a planning application for the 5.3 hectare site. They want to demolish the gatehouse and build a mix of houses and apartment blocks.

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The proposals include a creche, new park areas, 284 car parking spaces and 500 cycle parking spaces.

Artist's impressions of how the new site could look
Artist's impressions of how the new site could look

There would be 109 affordable homes built and the remaining 190 would be sold at market value.

The developers say: “The former Nestlé factory comprises a key brownfield development site within York and has long been identified as an important regeneration opportunity through which to deliver a new, inclusive and sustainable community incorporating high quality design.

“The enclosed application, together with the adjoining site at Cocoa Works, will fulfil this long-standing aspiration and deliver of a vibrant new residential neighbourhood set within pedestrian and cycle friendly streets which supports sustainable transport, biodiversity and encourages socialising and healthy lifestyle choices.

"Our vision is for Cocoa West to become an uplifting and sustainable neighbourhood, with productive, ecologically rich landscapes and crafted architecture that respects the site’s heritage and celebrates its legacy."

How the new development could look

The plans say the development could increase traffic on surrounding roads, including Wigginton Road, by between 0.3 per cent and 4.2 per cent. Transport analysts say the increases are "well within daily traffic variations of +/-5 per cent and as such represent a relatively small level of change. The proposed development would therefore be imperceptible in traffic engineering terms."

The houses would range from two to three storeys high and the apartment buildings will be five or six storeys.

The development is set to have an edible plant walking trail around the site and a neighbourhood square near the creche.

Cycle routes will link to the Sustrans path to the south of the site. Developers say the planning application fee totalled £58,145.

The neighbouring redevelopment of the Almond and Cream buildings will include a convenience store and conversion of the listed Joseph Rowntree memorial library into a community space. This development already has planning permission and is set to be completed in 2023.

A heritage statement for the new development says: "In 1890 Joseph Rowntree bought 29 acres of land off Haxby Road and began to build a new modern industrial complex. This complex was to house the manufacture of gum products and was sited with a main entrance onto Wigginton Road and a smaller pedestrian footpath access from Haxby Road.

"In 1899 an additional 31 acres had been purchased in order to expand the fruit growing capacity of the Haxby Road site. In addition, the factory was connected to the North Eastern Railway (NER) branch line via a private railway link."

"Throughout the medieval period the site and surrounding area appears to have consisted of flat grazing land converted to enclosed fields in the 18th and 19th centuries. This was until the introduction of the Foss Islands Branch Railway in the mid-19th century which acted as a catalyst for suburban expansion along Haxby Road.

"Whitecross Villa was constructed on the east side of Haxby Road during the 1880s as the residence of the city police chief Constable. In 1890 HI Rowntree and Co acquired a 29 acre site between Wigginton Road and Haxby Road, constructing a factory complex used for the production of cocoa and fruit gum-based confectionary.

"In 1899 a further 31 acres were purchased to expand the fruit growing capacity of the factory. The site, which benefitted from its close proximity to the railway, became the consolidated headquarters for Rowntree’s in 1907. The company was under the chairmanship of Joseph Rowntree.

"By 1979 the Rowntree site encompassed 149 acres of which 71 acres were occupied by the factory with surrounding fields in agricultural use or containing sports fields. In 1988 the Rowntree Works were purchased by the Swiss firm Nestlé.

"The Foss Islands Branch Line was closed during the 1980s and later converted into the Sustrans pedestrian and cycle route. In 2003 the Dining Block was sold to Nuffield Hospital.

"Nestlé Rowntree announced plans to redevelop the southern part of the factory site in 2006. This led to the City of York Council designating the south-eastern part of the factory grounds as a Conservation Area in 2007 and preparing the Nestlé South Development Brief (May 2007).

"The south-western factory buildings within the site were identified as being of reduced significance and were demolished in 2009."