THE outcome of a major housing scheme at the former Cadbury factory in Moreton will be decided tonight.

Planning officers are recommending councillors refuse permission for Burton Foods to build more than 230 new homes at the former complex - which later became Premier Brands UK - in Pasture Road.

When it meets this evening, the council's planning committee will study a report in which officers claim the proposed development would mean the loss of manufacturing and industrial land, which would be of significant harm to a part of Wirral with "challenging social-economic conditions."

Recommending the scheme’s refusal, the planners state: “While the applicant has sought to demonstrate that there is no interest in the site for employment development, the evidence submitted is insufficiently robust to support the site’s loss to housing.

They add: “The applicant has also contended that jobs can be created through the development and an ensuing demand for services.

"However, it is considered any economic benefits that may accrue from the proposed development would not outweigh the loss of the whole site for employment purposes.”

Burtons argued that along with family housing, the scheme could also create new jobs by providing infrastructure to generate investment in the site, encouraging development of small- to medium-sized business units.

The company said the proposals represented a "substantial level of direct investment" into the site and would boost economic benefits for Moreton and the surrounding area.

Their existing chocolate refinery on the site remains a successful business and would be retained.

Among objections in a community consultation exercise were concerns the new homes would be built in a high flood-risk area and that existing flood defences were insufficient for the changes proposed.

The Environment Agency said planning permission for the development would be conditionally acceptable subject to tests being carried out.

The site was originally developed for the production of confectionery by Cadbury’s in the early 1950s. Expansion of the original buildings and production was extended through the 1950s, 60s and 70s and employed 4,000 staff at the peak of operations.