PLANS to build 97 affordable homes on a site close to the East Coast Mainline where a trading estate had been planned looks set for approval, after businesses showed little interest in locating there.

Hambleton District Council officers have recommended the authority’s planning committee approve the proposals for the Sowerby Gateway estate by Thirteen Group, despite it being a significant departure from the outline planning permission granted for the land in 2012.

The scheme would see six flats, ten bungalows and four one-bedroom, 40 two-bedroom, 20 three-bedroom and 11 four-bedroom homes created on part of an area where it had been hoped to attract businesses.

Sixty per cent of the properties would be for affordable rent, capped at local housing allowance levels, and the remaining 40 per cent for shared ownership units.

A Thirteen Group spokesman said the scheme would address the shortfall of affordable housing at the previously approved 925-home estate.

He said: “The high quality scheme will be an exemplar of design quality and present a flagship scheme for affordable housing, ensuring a desirable development.”

An officers’ report to the committee states the site has been marketed for development continuously since early 2013 for employment and commercial uses, but it had “failed to attract any substantial interest from occupiers or developers which would substantiate full occupation of the allocated employment site”.

A Network Rail spokesman said it had no objection in principle to the development.

He added: “Given the size and proximity of the development in relation to the railway it is considered that there may be significant impacts on Thirsk railway station.

“It is therefore appropriate that a contribution is sought from the developer towards station facility improvements. This could include improvements to passenger facilities such as waiting shelters, customer information screens and cycle parking.”