WORK is about to start on a controversial retirement complex in York after its developers won a second planning appeal after a five-year battle.

Henry Boot and McCarthy Stone can now build their 72-home Retirement Living Plus complex on the Chocolate Works site on Bishopthorpe Road.

The pair struck a deal in 2019 to build the scheme but faced a refusal in 2022 from City of York Council, which was lost at appeal several months later.

However, revised plans submitted a year ago, were refused last July, but won at appeal in March this year.


The proposal had previously been described as ‘alien-like,’ lacking sufficient frontage for the street, with it also placing too much demand on healthcare services.

However, planning inspector T Burnham says the development has an ‘active street frontage’ thanks to a porch-like structure, so it won’t appear isolated or inward looking, so there would be no adverse impact on the streetscape.

He also said there was no evidence its residents would have more than a limited impact on health services.

York Press: Artists impression of the scheme

The proposed development was not excessively high, it would provide social and economic benefits, also contributing to York’s housing supply, so it met local and national housing policies and should be approved, Inspector Burnham concluded.

Earlier this month, Henry Boot’s property investment and development arm, HBD, agreed a conditional sale of the two acre development site at The Chocolate Works to McCarthy Stone, the UK’s leading developer and manager of retirement communities.

HBD will now work with McCarthy Stone to finish preparing the site for development, in line with its remaining contractual obligations, which is anticipated to complete by the end of this year. McCarthy Stone will solely lead on the development of the purpose-built retirement accommodation.

The new retirement community marks the final phase of HBD's award winning 27 acre development, which included the transformation of the former 160,000 sq ft Terry’s Chocolate factory into 163 premium apartments, delivering a total GDV of £110 million across seven schemes during the last decade.

The wider site is also now home to the Brainkind Neurological Centre, which supports people recovering from complex brain injuries.

Henry Boot CEO Tim Roberts said: “Securing planning permission and agreeing the sale to McCarthy Stone of the last remaining land site at The Chocolate Works will bring much needed retirement living in York, helping address the huge demand for specialist retirement accommodation that exists right across the country.

“By adding retirement accommodation, which will also offer tailored levels of care, alongside the residential and other uses we have developed at the site, helps achieve our goal of creating a deep and multi-generational community at this transformed former factory.

“In addition, it brings HBD’s award winning work on this significant project to a close while representing a strong outcome for our shareholders.”