BUSINESS leaders in York have welcomed a decision to approve a £165m plan to redevelop the former Terry's chocolate factory.
After a marathon four-and-a-half hour planning meeting last night, City of York Council granted planning permission for developer Grantside to convert the site into homes, hotels, shops and restaurants, a project expected to create 2,700 jobs.
Grantside, whose original plans for the historic site beside York Racecourse had been thrown out by councillors 18 months ago despite unanimous officer recommendation, brought forward a completely new £165m scheme which received widespread support second time around.
More than 270 homes will be created on the former Terry’s site, which previously manufactured such iconic brands as Terry’s Chocolate Orange and All Gold.
The new development will create two hotels, offices, restaurants, a care home and a variety of shops and restaurants, as well as a mix of houses, apartments and affordable accommodation.
Grantside went to considerable lengths to engage with local interest groups, participating in a Community Forum before finalising its application, for which it received considerable praise.
English Heritage, York Civic Trust and Yorkshire Forward were amongst the organisations that gave their backing to the scheme.
Steve Davis, the managing director of Grantside and Peter Callaghan, development director, expressed their delight at the outcome of the meeting.
"This is a great result for York," commented Mr Davis, who added that it would provide a massive boost for the local economy, which has seen other York developments at Hungate, Germany Beck and Derwenthorpe stalled in recent months.
Andrew Lindsay, a director of Leeds, York & North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce and a partner in Denison Till commercial lawyers in York, attended the planning meeting and was also a member of the Community Forum.
"I am delighted the scheme has received approval," he said. "The Terry’s site will provide much needed new homes and will attract new business to York, helping to compensate for the recent cancellation of HSBC’s data centre at Monks Cross."
Shaun Watts, president of York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce said: “Development in York has suffered a series of unexpected setbacks over the past few years and so the announcement that the planning application for the Chocolate Works has been approved is great news for our city and sends out the message to investors that York is open for business.
“This is a strategically important development for York and will play a vital role in our city’s growth as we emerge from the recession, as well as creating much needed jobs”.
Not everyone was pleased with the outcome. Labour councillor Dave Merritt argued strongly against the scheme, in spite of the obvious economic and housing benefits.