A BUYER has been found for the former Terry’s chocolate factory in York, meaning redevelopment of the site could finally go ahead.

An undisclosed company has successfully bid to buy the entire Chocolate Works site off Bishopthorpe Road, where a £165 million scheme including hundreds of new homes, hotels, shops, bars and restaurant are planned.

The site was put up for sale last year after plans for its transformation by York-based developer Grantside stalled.

Matthew Jones, of York property firm Savills, which is handling the sale, said a price had been agreed between the bidder and the site’s owners, it was under offer and solicitors had been instructed.

He said the buyer – who could not be named yet for legal reasons - was one of more than ten businesses on a “local, regional and national scale" that had come forward to express an interest in the site.

“We received several bids for The Chocolate Works and these have now been reviewed by the seller and the site placed under offer,” he said.

“The purchaser has agreed to buy the site unconditionally.

“This proves that for the right asset in the right location there is still a strong appetite for investment, especially in a city like York where the residential and leisure markets have held up well in the past few years.”

He was unable to reveal the price offered for the site, saying: “Because it is such a large site with mixed uses there was not a guide price; offers were invited by private treaty via informal tender”.

The site, where products such as the world-famous Chocolate Orange were produced, closed in September 2005.

Grantside bought it for £26 million the following year after its then agents put it up for informal tender.

The development was finally granted planning permission two-and-a-half years ago, 18 months after the council had controversially rejected the company's original proposals.

The plan was to create 2,700 new jobs and hundreds of new homes as well as injecting fresh business to the area, by building two prestigious hotels, shops, bars and restaurants.

City of York Council leader James Alexander said today that the site was an important part of the city’s plans for development in coming years, and he was pleased it would be moving forward under new owners.

“Planning permission is agreed and the council is, as with any stalled site, ready to help facilitate its redevelopment at the earliest opportunity,” he said.

“Once underway, it will further enhance the city’s reputation as being open for business.”