A MASTERPLAN is being drawn up for one of York’s biggest ever housing developments at the former British Sugar factory.

Site owners Associated British Foods have appointed PRP architects to guide the redevelopment of the 100-acre site, which could provide up to 1,400 new homes.

Such a project would be bigger than York’s Germany Beck and Derwenthorpe schemes combined. It would help tackle York’s chronic housing shortage, create hundreds of jobs and provide a major boost to the economy, but could also generate additional traffic on busy roads.

Associated British Foods, parent company of British Sugar, said the site off Boroughbridge Road was being separated from the nearby York Central site to avoid it being caught up by delays dogging the Central project.

Keith Preedy, group property manager, said the company had asked architects PRP to draw up a draft masterplan, working with City of York Council and planning consultants, traffic experts and ecologists.

He said there would be extensive public consultation this summer before the draft was presented to the council in the autumn.

He said: “It has been estimated that such a development could generate between 1,300 and 1,400 homes, primarily family housing.”

A detailed land analysis has already started and an outline planning application could be submitted in 2011.

Mr Preedy said that, if consent were obtained, ABF would intend selling off the site as a whole or in parcels to a developer. Plans for an “eco-community” would require substantial public sector funding.

He did not believe accessing the site would be a major factor, and one possibility would be the creation of a new transport corridor through the site.

The 540-home Derwenthorpe model village scheme at Osbaldwick and the 700-home Germany Beck scheme at Fulford have both met with fierce local opposition, and neither has yet got off the ground.

York council leader Andrew Waller confirmed the British Sugar site would now be developed in parallel with York Central.

He said a significant part of the development could be an eco-settlement if funding was obtained from the Homes and Communities Agency, for which there was cross-party support. He said he was very keen for local people to develop the necessary skills to ensure they could take up employment opportunities presented by the development.

Acomb councillor Tracey Simpson-Laing welcomed the news, but said residents would have concerns about space and access.

• PRP is an award-winning architectural practice specialising in residential, specialist housing, mixed use, commercial, retail, health care, hotel, education and leisure developments.

Its masterplanning work includes new communities, regeneration, specialist housing and mixed use schemes, often involving the regeneration of urban areas or the design of sustainable new communities. One of its masterplans was for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s Derwenthorpe scheme.