The Chocolate Works is a fascinating site steeped in history. Centred around Terry’s Bishopthorpe Factory – once filled with 2,500 local employees, it has now been transformed into a new residential-led development known as The Chocolate Works.
Constructed in 1927, Bishopthorpe was the proud emblem of Terry’s incredible confectionary success, accommodating its transition from simple apothecary to fully-fledged, world-famous chocolatier.
The factory was the beating heart of Terry’s operations, slowing down only for WWII, before reverting to full production in the 1950s – the decade in which the Chocolate Orange, arguably the business’ best-known product, was presented to the world for tapping and unwrapping.
Sadly, an acquisition by Kraft Foods in the 1990s saw operations moved to Europe and the factory finally closed in 2005.
A challenging new era
While the building’s future looked uncertain, English Heritage highlighted its plight, adding five of the former factory buildings to its ‘at Risk Register’.
Buildings with such powerful legacies often deter developers, fearful of the challenges and viability, but HBD and its partners are well placed to tackle large-scale mixed use regeneration projects. With roots already firmly in Yorkshire, HBD seized the opportunity to protect and breathe new life into this beloved landmark.
They started by listening to the local community and heard the generational stories that bound people to the building’s past. When asked what else they wanted alongside the new homes there was a keen desire to see Terry’s iconic clock tower function as the city’s timekeeper once more.
Planning had already been secured by the previous owner but didn’t reflect the changing needs of the local population and was heavily weighted to office and retail. Having reassessed the market and consulted the local stakeholders, HBD committed to addressing the significant local residential demand.
Exponential population growth – compounded by an ageing population – was addressed with the revised plan. In 2011, a short time before HBD acquired the site, the UK had created just 146,000 new homes – down 43% on 2008. So, HBD adjusted its proposals accordingly, initially selling 14 acres of the site to David Wilson Homes.
HBD committed to retaining as much brownfield land as possible but as several buildings contained asbestos they needed careful management.
HBD drew on past experience of securing funding to enable the remediation works, exploring options such as grant funding – something that had been done in the past at schemes like Markham Vale – a former colliery where HBD secured more than £14m funding – and Airport Business Park in Southend where £20m funding was secured. HBD was also able to draw on its own cash resources to help fund the asbestos strip out and undertook all infrastructure work to unlock development.
Those early works enabled the creation of high-quality public realm and open green spaces including the publicly accessible Peace Garden and children’s play area.
A bitesized approach
HBD adopted a phased approach to The Chocolate Works, starting with the Care Village which was delivered in partnership with Springfield Healthcare. This award-winning dementia specialist facility sits within the 40,000 sq ft former Terry’s HQ building – a space well suited to its purpose thanks to its large central atrium for shared services. It’s been a huge success, with Springfield’s CEO calling our collaboration “seamless”.
Next came The Residence – a former 160,000 sq ft multi-storey factory space. Collaboration was once again key, partnering with PJ Livesey to create 163 apartments and a commercial unit. The partnership continued, turning The Clock Tower into 21 superb new apartments and, as promised to the local community, the restoration of the much-loved clock.
A museum space sits behind the clock faces that will be open to the public on certain days throughout the year.
HBD also offered added extras for residents including bus passes and £400 bike reimbursements to promote sustainable transport around the city.
Next came The Liquor Store. HBD sold this 20,000 sq ft space to a local developer, and worked with them to devise a proposition for the building which is now home to a café, a dentist and offers flexible office space.
What’s the latest phase?
Most recently HBD completed a new, turnkey Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) hospital, for Brainkind. Formerly The Disabilities Trust, this 40-year-old charity provides care facilities for people with brain injuries, physical disabilities, autism and learning difficulties. Brainkind had struggled to find new premises, but HBD made the ABI hospital a reality, with 40 bedrooms (36 beds and a further 4 “step down” assessment flats), therapy and treatment rooms, communal areas, internal courtyards, landscaping and parking.
The ABI hospital is a prime example of low carbon by design, achieving BREEAM “Excellent” rating, and 29% betterment of Part L. It is also designed in accordance with AIMS Standards for Inpatient Mental Health Rehabilitation Services to be CQC compliant and is designed in the spirit of the NHS’s HTMs and HBNs, demonstrating how we adopt best practice guidance and industry standards.
The people make the place
The Chocolate Works has had its challenges, but the tenacity and experience of HBD’s colleagues and partners has paid off – creating a vibrant and highly successful neighbourhood.
HBD was supported by brilliant consultants who brought much-needed technical expertise – from planners and quantity surveyors – through to specialist horologists, who helped put the much-loved timepiece back into use on the city’s skyline.
The Chocolate Works is a great example of how HBD collaborates with multiple stakeholders from start to finish.