A BUILDING which once housed one of York’s most famous names will soon be converted into hundreds of new homes in a £7.7 million scheme.

The Cocoa Works in Haxby Road - once Rowntree’s Almond and Cream buildings - has been empty for more than 10 years, since Nestle moved production to modern facilities.

Planning permission was granted earlier this year for the buildings to become 258 new homes, following years of legal complications and speculation, but this week a definite plan for the site was completed.

Latimer, which is part of Clarion Housing Group, has called the Cocoa Works “one of its most ambitious projects to date”, but said it would create high quality new homes on the site of the derelict former factory.

A deal to buy the building was completed on Friday, December 1, and Latimer said the 258 apartments for sale would be “a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom homes including a concierge and other community facilities”.

Richard White, land director for Latimer, said: “Our ambitious plans will re-invigorate an iconic York building and, at the same time, bring much-needed, high quality homes to the city.”

The development will also include an access road, a new 4,000 sq ft convenience store, storage for 288 bicycles and 173 parking spaces, while the listed Joseph Rowntree Memorial Library will become a concierge base.

Developers said work was due to start within months, and an on-site marketing suite is expected to be available from the end of next year.

The Press understands phase two of the development, which covers 11 acres, could see more plans submitted early next year.

A spokesman for City of York Council said the authority “welcomes the re-use of the building to provide additional housing to the city”, alongside the council’s own plans.

The council recently announced a £20 million fund to build more badly needed social or council housing.

The city’s wage to house price ratio is the sixth highest of the 72 local authorities in the north of England and a recent report showed there were 1,125 applicants on York’s waiting list in high or very high housing need.

Tonight, the council executive will discuss the creation of a housing development company, wholly owned by the authority, with an aim to speed up building of homes in the city.

The council aims to use its land assets for developments which can respond to social needs, and provide accommodation for “a wide range of households in the city”, while making money to be reinvested into council services.

A number of council-owned sites will be considered for new housing developments.