A MAJOR housing development scheme on the site of a former chocolate factory has been given the green light, heralding a building boom for Egremont.

The plan was one of two big developments for the West Cumbrian town approved at the same meeting, with Home Group also given permission for a socal housing complex in a seperate application.

The site of the Rowntrees’ factory has stood empty for more than 30 years but will now get a new lease of life as a 34-home housing complex.

Copeland’s planning panel yesterday (February 20) voted unanimously in favour of the plans which include a block of flats and terrace housing on East Road close to the bypass.

The project was one of two major developments for Egremont approved at the same meeting - with Home Group also given permission to create 26 homes on land south of Royal Drive.

Plans for the chocolate factory site will see the creation of 24 apartments with 42 parking spaces, some of which will be created in an undercroft area.

The scheme will include ten houses in three terraces with a communal parking area in front and garden area behind.

Heather Morrison, Copeland's senior planning officer, described the chocolate factory as “a real opportunity for Egremont”.

She said: “This represents a re-development of a prominent brownfield site which has been vacant for 30 years, well-related to the existing settlement and is flanked by existing residential development.

“It’s been demonstrated that issues of concern can be satisfactorily addressed. A number of them have pre-commencement conditions.”

The meeting heard that previous concerns over parking, access design and drainage had all been addressed in revised plans.

The original plans had been scaled back slightly to address concerns over the building’s size.

The roof angle has been reduced by five degrees while its overall height has been cut down by more than three feet, bringing it lower than the nearest apartment block built by Persimmon.

Under the plans, the access road will stay where it is but will be “substantially upgraded” to meet new highways standards with pedestrian access.

Egremont Town Council had initial concerns they raised no objection to the revised plans while the Flood Authority is also satisfied with the drainage scheme.

A safety audit had identified lack of parking and access issues, but the meeting heard that these issues had now been resolved to the Highways Department’s satisfaction.

The installation of bird-nesting boxes and bat boxes has been included as a condition following an ecological survey.

The site has been the subject of various previous permissions including a couple of housing developments though now construction work had been carried out.