The Chocolate Works

York

Masterplan for redevelopment of the former Terry's Chocolate Works to provide 312 homes, commercial, office and leisure uses. Designed by Turley Associates.

29 January 2010

Planning reference: 09/01606/OUTM

Tagged with: Offices | Design review | Design review panel | Housing | Yorkshire and Humberside

Summary

We continue to support the principle of reusing the former Terry’s Chocolate Works listed buildings and the wider redevelopment of the site. However, we are disappointed that the design principles drawn from the design team’s analysis of this site have not been translated into a convincing masterplan for the site. We welcome the mix of uses proposed. However, in our view, the site demands a more connected hierarchy of streets, spaces and urban blocks to tie the development’s constituent parts more closely together and help it relate more positively to the surrounding urban grain. Whilst we support the intention to convert and extend the main factory building, issues around the design and footprint of the extension require further consideration. We think the application should not be permitted in its current form.

Masterplan diagram

Given the self-contained nature of the site, the success of this development will, in large part, rely of how successfully it can be re-integrated with its surroundings, particularly those neighbourhoods to the north and east, which originally enjoyed a strong connection to the site. We were pleased to note the design team’s intention to address this in the design principles established for the masterplan. However, in our view, this has not been translated successfully into the parameters plan proposed or the accompanying illustrative masterplan.

We support the principle of consolidating community functions alongside existing civic uses on Campleshon Road to strengthen its role as a ‘neighbourhood street’. However, the limited opportunities for vehicular and pedestrian movement into the site from the north call into question its potential success as a permeable ‘seam’ between the site and the neighbourhood of South Bank to the north. Equally, whilst we acknowledge that the special character of Bishopthorpe Road has influenced the decision to set back development behind the established tree line on this frontage, we are concerned about the prospect of development turning its back to the road and presenting a gated edge to this boundary. Notwithstanding the entrance provided to the care home, the fact that none of the apartment blocks have direct vehicular access from Bishopthorpe Road suggests an inward-facing development instead of one that fosters new ties with surrounding neighbourhoods.

Within the site, the proposed road layout suggests confusion in the hierarchy of streets that could work against a well-functioning neighbourhood. In our view, the circuitous layout of the proposed residential neighbourhood lends it a suburban character which is at odds with the urban layout of surrounding terraces and the strong orthogonal geometry of the factory buildings. Whilst we acknowledge that the masterplan’s layout is illustrative, our concern is that the parameter plan’s disjointed circulation diagram imposes a cul-de-sac pattern to residential development, poorly connecting it to the rest of the site and to surrounding streets.

Further, instead of locating the neighbourhood’s principle open space to benefit from through-traffic, for example, along the primary north/south boulevard, the green is buried in the centre, coming across as residual space, poorly defined by low-rise housing. This reinforces the sense of separation in character between the new residential neighbourhood in the north and the former factory buildings and commercial district to the south. We think the opportunity could be taken to make more of the public space shown to the north of the factory building at the junction of the site’s two principle axes to allow for these two worlds to come together more successfully.

In respect of the parking strategy, whilst we acknowledge that the proposed decked car park is on the site of an existing parking facility, the intensification of this use will have a major impact on the experience of driving into York from the south. Therefore, it is disappointing that the masterplan does not make more of the opportunity presented by this part of the site.

Former factory building

We welcome the proposal to convert and extend the main factory building and we support the mix of uses proposed. However, the local authority should satisfy itself that the tight floorplans to the hotel rooms will be attractive to business hotel operators. We also have a number of concerns about the attached pavilion office building. Firstly, we appreciate the need to ensure the extension remains subservient to the main building but its tight footprint provides modest office floorplates which could affect its attractiveness to future occupiers. Secondly, whilst we do not object to the notion of a simple, box pavilion, the choice of cladding material and detailing will need to be very carefully considered if it is to be carried off successfully. We would question the preference for white limestone cladding in favour of a material that could reflect the more dominant red brick character of the factory building. We would also advise that special attention be paid to the roof of the pavilion to ensure that it does not detract from views from the upper levels of the listed factory. At the appropriate time, the local authority will need to satisfy itself that all aspects relating to materials and detailing of the listed buildings are acceptable.