Butchers plan new eco farm shop creating 60 jobs

Butchers plan new eco farm shop creating 60 jobs

Yorkshire-based Keelham Farm Shop is run by the third generation of Robertshaws, siblings James and Victoria, whose roots are embedded in farming and butchery. They are planning to build an eco-friendly, ‘barn of the 21st century’ creating 60 new jobs in Skipton.

A computer generated image of the new eco farm shop

Yorkshire-based Keelham Farm Shop, run by the third generation of Robertshaws, siblings James and Victoria, whose roots are embedded in farming and butchery is planning to build an eco-friendly, ‘barn of the 21stcentury’ creating 60 new jobs in Skipton.

The new farm shop is an expansion of a successful concept in fresh food retail for local people, acting as a sales outlet for a diverse range of regional producers and an original attraction for tourists.

Keelham has earned a reputation as a committed champion of local farmers and suppliers, delivering a retail proposition built on the source, taste and affordability of its produce; 75% of what Keelham sells is fresh produce, compared with 25% in large supermarkets and stores. The Thornton shop, which serves over 8,000 customers a week, offers goods from more than 100 local producers alongside Keelham’s award-winning own-brand products, as well as fresh produce and meats grown and reared by over 290 farms in the local area, including the family’s own farm in Cowling, and this is a winning format the company seeks to replicate in Skipton.

Detailed plans

The new Skipton farm shop scheme will transform the site which has remained derelict since its previous use as a garage and car sales room closed in 2010. The proposed farm shop occupies a similar footprint to vacant buildings on the site and uses basement areas and a mezzanine to incorporate 2,330 square metres of floor space. The venture will include a farm shop with butchers, bakery, delicatessen and areas for cookery demonstrations, alongside a free outdoor animal croft, café and warehouse facilities. The proposals also include the creation of 127 new parking spaces for visitors and staff as well as 10 cycle spaces at the front of the development.

The business already has 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, and will become a key partner for the butchery service in Skipton as talks are underway to use its meat processing unit based at Skipton Auction Mart, located next to the proposed Skipton site.

Keelham is working with Skipton-based planning consultants Rural Solutions Ltd, Wetherby-based CFK Developments and Leeds-based Humphreys Teal Architects on the proposed scheme, which will be the second site for the pioneering, family-owned business run by the third generation of Robertshaws. Following 40 years developing a successful business at the original Keelham Farm Shop, based on a working hill sheep farm in Thornton on the outskirts of Bradford, Skipton is the first town chosen by the company as part of a long-term plan to expand the concept to other locations in Yorkshire.

Comments Victoria Robertshaw, Director and Co-owner of Keelham Farm Shop:
“We believe that food tastes better from the farm and we aim to make affordable, fresh, good quality produce available to everyone and for customers to buy as much, or as little, as they need. In Thornton, we have deep roots and our staff offer educational activities, a host of family-friendly events and support local charities. We love making a difference and look forward to forging these relationships in Skipton, becoming a community asset, as well a valued business.”

Eco detail

The design of the new farm shop includes a number of eco-friendly elements including a ‘living’ wall running through the centre of the building, photovoltaic solar panels, a wind turbine, sun pipes, wind catchers and a sedum roof. The development delivers the company’s values as farmers to protect the environment and landscape for future generations by using resources more efficiently and minimizing its carbon footprint.

Adds co-owner James Robertshaw: “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 Skipton scheme will adopt many of the successful initiatives already running in Thornton which go beyond a retail proposition to create a distinctive attraction for tourists. It will 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.

Local reaction

Gary Verity, chief executive of Welcome to Yorkshire added: “We think Keelham Farm Shop will be a fantastic addition to Skipton’s tourism offering. Skipton, often described as the gateway to the Dales, has so much to offer and something like this would certainly help to attract even more visitors.”

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.

The planning application is just part of current ambitious expansion plans for company which has also invested in a refresh of its Thornton shop resulting in a host of improvements including the expansion of the butchery and delicatessen counters and three additional ‘express tills’ introduced to reduce queuing time.

Anyone who would like to find out more about the proposed scheme in Skipton can attend an informal open day at Skipton Auction Mart on Thursday 16th August from 12:00pm to 7:30pm where the Keelham team will give visitors a taste of what Keelham Farm Shop is all about with information, food samples, local suppliers and visuals of the proposed building design.

Visit the shop’s website for more information.

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