WORK has finally started on building new homes on York’s former Terry’s site, almost a decade after it was announced that the iconic chocolate factory was to close.

York-based David Wilson Homes Yorkshire East has begun the re-development of part of the Chocolate Works site, which has lain derelict since the works finally shut in 2005 with the loss of more than 300 jobs.

The first phase of a 200+ plus scheme on land off Campleshon Road involves 57 houses, 29 apartments and a convenience store, which will be used as a sales office while the site is being developed. The new homes are expected to go on sale in the spring.

David Wilson Homes’ managing director, Paul Newman, said it was no ordinary housing scheme because the site held a special place in York’s history.

“We are determined to make a landmark statement which respects the heritage and reflects the architectural legacy of the former Terry’s Chocolate Works.,” he said.

“What we are delivering will enhance the neighbourhood and we’re delighted to get started on a development which will help meet the city’s urgent housing need.”

Construction director Rhoddy MacKinnon said 70-80 people would be working on site at any one time, with numbers peaking at about 150.

He said parties of pupils and students from schools across York and York College would be invited to the site as part of a drive to encourage more young people to consider taking up careers in the construction industry.

York council leader James Alexander said the start of work marked another major step forward for the Terry’s site, as well as being another brownfield site coming forward for development in York.

He said the scheme demonstrated that York was now the number one city in Yorkshire for investment.

Coun Dave Merrett, Cabinet Member for Transport, said it was important that new homes - 20 per cent of which were affordable - were being created to help meet the city’s chronic shortage of homes, although he stressed that in the long run, brownfield sites alone could not meet all the city’s need for new housing.