A FORMER factory in York which closed two years ago with the loss of 140 jobs could be turned into housing.

Del Monte has taken the first steps towards building 60 homes on the site where its Skelton factory, which made salad and coleslaws for retailers, operated until the company decided to shut it in April 2012.

Agents acting for the food firm have asked City of York Council for a “screening opinion” – laying out which environmental issues and other matters may have to be addressed once a full planning application is submitted – for the Shipton Road site, which has been vacant since the factory’s closure.

When Del Monte announced it was shutting its York base, it was understood to have lost a contract with supermarket chain Morrisons.

Unions said talks had been held with Asda in an attempt to win new business, although Del Monte consistently declined to comment at the time. The firm made 20 redundancies in 2008 and warned there could be more job losses the following year.

In a letter to council planners, property consultants Knight Frank said: “The proposal will involve the development of approximately 2.3 hectares of brownfield land, with the potential to deliver up to 60 new homes.

“We are not aware of any other planned developments within Skelton and the surrounding area which could result in a cumulative impact. The proposal does not have any unusually complex or potentially hazardous environmental effects.”

The site owned by Del Monte, at the southern end of Skelton, also includes almost a hectare of green belt land, but this would not be developed under the proposals.

It was originally the home of Wrights of York, a business which operated for more than 100 years and was renowned for its pork pies.

The factory later housed Freshbake Foods, Campbell’s and the Albert Fisher Group, which Fresh Del Monte Produce bought out of administration in 2002.