Ambitious eco expansion for successful farm shop

A successful independent farm shop is planning to build a new eco-barn on a new site in Skipton, which will expand the business and create 60 new jobs, as part of an long-term expansion project. 

Keelham Farm Shop has submitted a planning application to build a ‘21st century barn’ on the vacant site of a former garage and car sales room in Skipton, which will house a new shop. The plans include elements to maximise environmental efficiency, including photovoltaic solar panels, a wind turbine, sun pipes, wind catchers and a sedum roof. Occupying a similar footprint to the existing vacant buildings, the floor space of the new shop would rise to 2,330sq m with an inclusion of a basement and a mezzanine. Parking for 127 cars and 10 cycle spaces at the front of the development has also been proposed.

It is hoped that the new shop, which will incorporate a butchery, bakery, delicatessen, café and warehouse facilities, will act as an original attraction for tourists. It intends to offer a regular, free programme of cookery and butchery demonstrations, supplier talks and a live animal croft, which will give children the chance to learn more about farm animals and where meat comes from.

The proposal forms part an ambitious long-term expansion project in which the company plans to take its concept and strong tradition of regional product to other locations in Yorkshire.

The owners, siblings Victoria and James Robertshaw, have worked with Skipton-based planning consultants Rural Solutions, Wetherby-based CFK Developments and Leeds-based Humphreys Teal Architects on the proposed scheme, which will be the second site for the family-owned business.  

The farm shop has already forged strong links with local companies including Skipton-based CCM Quality Foods, whose Stanforths Butchers' is currently undertaking some of the meat preparation for the Thornton site. It will become a key partner for the butchery service in Skipton as talks are under way to use its meat processing unit based at Skipton Auction Mart, located next to the proposed Skipton site.

James Robertshaw, director and co-owner of Keelham Farm Shop, said: “At Keelham, generations of experience has taught us the importance of championing local farmers and producers; they help strengthen our local economy, conserve our surrounding countryside, and offer the freshest, tastiest food.

“Skipton is the ideal location to expand our award-winning business as the site next to the Auction Mart fits perfectly with our values and active support of the rural farming community. We look forward to building a new network of producers here.”

The original Keelham Farm shop was founded in Thornton on the outskirts of Bradford 40 years ago and is currently run by the third generation of the family. It serves around 8,000 customers a week, and offers goods from more than 100 local producers, with meats from animals reared by over 290 farms in the local area, including the family’s own farm in Cowling. It has recently expanded and refreshed the butchery and delicatessen counters at the Thornton shop, adding three ‘express tills’ to reduce queuing time.

If the application is approved, building work will begin on site in spring 2013 and the new farm shop and activity barn will be open for business in early 2014.

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