A MAJOR housing development site has been put up for auction – just five months after getting planning approval.

The site of the former chocolate factory at Egremont was given the green light for a 34-home development in February this year.

Now the owner, Lancashire company Exceptional Boat & Property Ltd, has put the site up for auction, along with the planning permission.

It will be offered for sale by Wilsons Auction in Newcastle at noon on December 31 with a guide price of £500,000.

This is the latest in a series of twists and turns that has seen the old Rowntree’s property which has lain empty for 30 years.

In 2005 permission was granted for eight houses, then in 2008 for 28 houses, but neither of these went ahead.

In 2014 permission was refused to build a retail development, which had attracted interest from supermarket giant Tesco.

Last year Exceptional Boats wanted to build a 28-home apartment block over three-and-a-half storeys as well as 13 houses with car parking on the site.

In February this year a slightly scaled-down version of the application was submitted and, this time, was accepted.

The scheme will include 10 houses in three terraces with a communal parking area in front and a garden area behind.

Not everyone was against the development. Some neighbours welcomed something being done with the land.

Councillor Lena Hogg, former Copeland leader and Egremont chairman, also supported the latest application.

She said at the time: “Any development is a good thing for Egremont. We need more houses, certainly top-of-the-range ones, as we have people coming in.”

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

“This represents a re-development of a prominent brownfield site, well-related to the existing settlement and is flanked by existing residential development.”