THE building of Hambleton district’s largest housing estate will start this week, 14 months after councillors gave the scheme the go-ahead.

The first phase of the controversial 925-home Sowerby Gateway scheme will see 107 houses and 4,400sq metres of commercial buildings, including 15 incubator units off Topcliffe Road, built.

The development, which was passed by councillors despite fierce opposition from some residents, will also include a major change to the nearby A168 junction, south-west of Sowerby.

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Mulberry Homes Yorkshire, which includes Broadacres Housing Association and Colburn-based developers Castlevale, has agreed to complete the four-way junction within six months of the first house being occupied on the 56-hecatre site.

It is understood building work has been delayed as the Highways Agency did not approve the plans until last August, after which the developers waited for the conclusion of a 90-day judicial review call-in period.

Later phases of the scheme have yet to be granted planning permission, will see a £2.5m primary school, a parade of shops, a doctors’ surgery, a community centre and public recreation facilities.

A key feature of the scheme is that it will include 40 per cent affordable housing, spread across the development.

Hambleton District Council housing chief Councillor Mark Robson said the first stage of the development would be of vital importance to residents and traders across a wide area.

He said: “Sowerby Gateway will bring new homes, new facilities and new jobs to the district, and the whole scheme will be worth millions of pounds to the local economy.

“It has been years in the planning and will take up to 15 years to complete, but seeing work start is a real boost in these times of cutbacks.”

Martin Foster, director of Mulberry Homes Yorkshire, said he hoped the estate would set the standard in terms of quality, sustainability and value for money.

He said: “We are very excited about the start of our first development where our vision is to create a thriving and sustainable community, providing a sympathetic extension to Sowerby and Thirsk and bringing in economic and social benefits for the area.”

Developers have been told to ensure contractors enter the site from the A168 direction to prevent congestion on the Topcliffe Road.

Joe Salmon, chairman of Sowerby and Thirsk United for the Future, which has campaigned against the development, said members of the group were concerned contractors would ignore the planning conditions and remained opposed to the scale of the proposed estate.