WORK has begun to transform the site of a former railway station that played a key role in the Second World War into a £20m-plus housing development.

Wetherby-based Berkeley DeVeer is breathing new life into the three-acre brownfield site at West Tanfield, six miles north of Ripon.

The site was once home to Tanfield station, which opened in 1875, before closing to passengers in 1931 and shutting down completely in 1963.

Having played a key role in World War Two D-Day preparations, the site has stood idle since being used most recently for light industrial purposes.

The original station - which sat on the single branch line between Masham, Melmerby and Ripon - drew around 8,000 passenger journeys a year, as well running a daily livestock train.

During World War Two it acted as a trans-shipment point for as many as 76,000 tons of munitions stored locally each year.

According to historians, during the build-up to D-Day 42 trains were dispatched from Tanfield, each with up to 50 wagons.

Now the site will become a home for future generations as the first phase of the 42-home Regency Place development has been launched to market.

The homes are designed with eco-friendly energy in mind and all are fitted with air source heat pumps - the latest in green home heating technology.

These are highly energy efficient units which take heat energy from the air - even on the coldest winter’s night - and convert it to heat for the home.

Eight of the Regency houses have been earmarked as affordable homes available through a housing association and all will be available under the Government’s Help to Buy scheme.

Prices range from £275,000 for a three-bedroom semi-detached house, to £450,000 for a detached five-bedroom property and £460,000 for a superior four-bedroom home.

Dan Newett, managing director of Berkeley DeVeer, said: “Regency Place offers a family of homes tailored to meet the needs of a growing local community, particularly the demand for new-build homes, and fit well with the organic growth of the village.

“Many are tailored with first-time buyers in mind to meet the needs of the local community, while others offer spacious family homes.”