A plan to demolish a number of historic furniture factories in a “run-down” area of High Wycombe and replace them with more than 200 flats has been hailed as “exciting” by district councillors as they gave the proposals the green light.

Developers have been given the go-ahead to create 227 one and two bedroom flats on land including Commercial Square, Leigh Court, Wheelers Yard and the Birch, Malvern and Llanberis Houses in Leigh Street.

As part of the plans, Birch House – which was once home to WM Birch Limited, manufacturers of high-quality arts and craft furniture after they acquired it in 1901 – will be restored, converted and extended to provide 85 homes.

Three new blocks containing 145 flats would be built, while the estate would also have basement and multi-storey car parking and improvement works would be made to Leigh Street.

Birch House has been empty for nearly 20 years and has been described as "run down" by the developers and the High Wycombe Society said that while they were concerned at the lack of affordable housing on the estate, the building is in a “parlous” state and needs urgently rescuing.

Cllr Tony Lee, Bourne End cum Hedsor, said it was the “most exciting planning application I have had the pleasure of looking at”, adding: “In the early 1980s I owned two businesses very close to this area and know it very well. I have been disappointed at how long it has taken to go about putting it right. It is a huge undertaking for the developers. I look forward to this coming to fruition.”

Cllr Alan Turner, The Risboroughs, said he was “unhappy” at the lack of affordable housing on the site – which developers say is not viable – but added that it is a “great scheme”.

Meanwhile, Cllr Maz Hussain, Disraeli, and Cllr Sarfaraz Raja, Terriers and Amersham Hill, raised concerns about the issue of parking in Leigh Street and Green Street.

Cllr Raja said: “There is less than one parking space per flat planned and parking in that area is already an issue. It will get worse with this development.”

Charles Power, from the planning team at the district council said the “benefits of the proposal outweigh the negative aspects” and councillors appeared to agree, with seven councillors on the planning committee voting in favour of the plans at a meeting on Wednesday night and three voting against.

Cllr Chris Whitehead urged the council’s conservation officers to ensure that the “beautiful” ironwork on Birch House does not “go to waste”.

He said: “Who can fail to be happy with the preservation of this wonderful factory that is part of Wycombe’s heritage? The ironwork could easily end up in the back of a lorry and be on their way to Portobello market. They are too good to waste.”