THE former poultry research station at Houghton Grange, St Ives, is to become 90 new homes - nearly a decade after the scheme was first mooted. Outline planning consent has been granted, following agreement on developer contributions to transport and other infrastructure. It is one of three sites in Houghton Road on which a total of about 300 homes are to be built in the next few years. Huntingdonshire District Council granted planning nearly 10 years after the owner, the Biotechnology & Biological Sciences Research Council, first promoted the site for housing, said St Neots-based property consultants D H Barford + Co Ltd. The 18,960 square metres of laboratory and research buildings include Grade II Listed gatehouses and the Listed Grange building, within a parkland setting of protected trees. The site has been unoccupied since research work was relocated to Berkshire in the late 1980s. Previously, HDC had granted planning permission for redevelopment as a business park in 1991, but there was a lack of developer interest. In 1997 the research council submitted a planning application for housing but this was refused and an appeal dismissed. But, after a comprehensive planning assessment of the three sites, HDC resolved in March last year to grant consent subject to a satisfactory Section 106 agreement on infrastructure contributions, highway, education improvements and affordable housing arrangements. Barford's planning director Martin Page said: "The residential redevelopment of the site will have many benefits. It will provide housing on brownfield land consistent with Government advice and in an accessible location, with the planned guided bus route running along the site frontage. "The development will also incorporate footpath and cycleway improvements between Houghton Road and the Houghton\/St Ives Thicket walkway, as well as a pedestrian crossing over the Houghton Road and contributions towards improvements to the footpath and cycle routes along Houghton Road. "This will ensure improved accessibility for existing residents in Houghton and St Ives, as well as good accessibility between the site and the town," he added. "The development will also secure the refurbishment of the Listed Grange building with the removal of the unsympathetic laboratory wings that were added in the 1960s." Mr Page said he hoped a detailed planning application would be submitted before the end of 2006 with work starting on developing the site next year.