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Latimer appoints contractor as work on site begins at iconic Cocoa Works development in York

Latimer, the development arm of Clarion Housing Group, has appointed a contractor and started work on site at The Cocoa Works, the former Rowntree factory on Haxby Road in the centre of York.

With a Gross Development Value (GDV) of approximately £80 million, the scheme will deliver 279 apartments, of which 84 will be available for shared ownership. Once complete, The Cocoa Works will comprise seven studios, 111 one-bedroom apartments, 146 two-bedroom apartments and 15 three-bedroom apartments, providing a wide range of options for potential buyers.

Award-winning Yorkshire firm Henry Boot Construction has been appointed to undertake the refurbishment of the historic site, which was home to the Rowntree factory from 1890 and had over 6,000 employees by the 1920s, producing world-famous confectionary brands.

Representatives from Latimer and Henry Boot Construction attended a ground-breaking ceremony on site on Monday [15 November] which was also attended by the Lord Mayor of York, Chris Cullwick, the Sheriff of York, Councillor Ashley Mason JP, and Cllr Denise Craghill, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Communities at City of York Council.

Latimer’s plans for the eight hectare site, which has been derelict for more than a decade, will ensure original features of the building are celebrated and incorporated into designs. The old Joseph Rowntree Memorial Library will also be refurbished, providing a character-filled community space that will be home to a concierge service for residents and a private working space.

Joseph Rowntree, a philanthropist and visionary, wanted to build a ‘garden factory’, where open space and education facilities supported the wellbeing of factory workers and their families. He put social value at the heart of his project and now the site is to be creatively reinvented to become a thriving community once again, in line with the philosophy of Clarion Housing Group’s founder, William Sutton.

Richard Cook, Group Director of Development for Clarion Housing Group, said:
“We’re delighted to be working with Henry Boot Construction to bring our vision for The Cocoa Works to life and it was great to welcome the Lord Mayor of York to mark our start on site.

“The scheme will deliver characterful, high-end apartments, including many available through shared ownership, whilst celebrating the heritage of the building and the legacy of Joseph Rowntree. We’re looking forward to seeing the first residents move in and a vibrant community developing around one of York’s most iconic buildings.”

Tony Shaw, Managing Director of Henry Boot, said:
“The Rowntree Factory is synonymous with York and it’s a real privilege to re-establish a community and bring life back to such an iconic heritage building.

“Henry Boot is committed to sensitive restoration and we are looking forward to delivering a new, exciting future for this striking building, which is integral to York’s social history.

“As part of our commitment to York, and as a major employer across the region, we deliver valuable social value outputs through our local supply chain and site-specific employment and training initiatives.”

Cllr Denise Craghill, Executive Member for Housing and Safer Communities at City of York Council, said:
“It’s great to see The Cocoa Works starting to take shape, breathing new life back into the buildings that were once home to the Rowntree factory. This development highlights our commitment to working with housing associations and developers to bring much-needed affordable housing to the city, with the inclusion of shared ownership homes providing new ways for local people to get on the property ladder.”