Work begins on new £4m Keelham farm shop

James and Victoria Robertshaw at Keelham Farm Shop
James and Victoria Robertshaw at Keelham Farm Shop
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AN award-winning farm shop is forging ahead with expansion plans after starting work on a £4m second site.

Keelham Farm Shop, in Thornton, near Bradford, is building its new site in Skipton, which will see the family-run business extend its operation to include a cookery school and cafe.

The company, which secured planning permission in December 2013, recently gained £210,000 from North Yorkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP). It also received backing from NatWest.

The development will create 67 new jobs, 21 of which are through the expansion of the food preparation side of the business using capital from the Business Grant Programme, which is funded by the Government’s Regional Growth Fund and delivered by North Yorkshire LEP, which will help the company to expand its range of own-brand products.

The new farm shop is part of a longer-term plan to expand the business to other locations in Yorkshire.

Shipley-based Stainforth Construction will carry out the six-month build programme which will be completed this year and open to the public in January 2015.

Keelham Farm Shop is run by siblings Victoria and James Robertshaw.

The original Thornton site is supplied by over 400 local farmers and producers and sells meat sourced weekly from local auction marts, as well as lambs from its farm in Cowling. The team will actively be searching for new suppliers that are local to Skipton.

The new shop will include a living wall of herbs and an activity barn, alongside fresh food, a bakery, delicatessen and butcher.

The contractors have undertaken remediation work at the site, which was previously a garage. The existing framework will provide a skeleton for the new shop, which will feature photovoltaic solar panels and a sedum roof.

Co-owner Victoria Robertshaw said: “The team have been working for a long time on the detailed plans for Skipton and it’s fantastic finally to see the spade hit the ground.”

She added: “We had hoped to have the shop open by Christmas, but the build schedule was put back until we had the final funding in place.

“We took the decision not to rush the opening, but to focus on getting the build and landscaping finished by December – and then unveil our new shop and new offering to the public in the New Year.”

January 15 is earmarked as the official opening date as it is the anniversary of the death of their father, who founded the farm shop in the early 1970s.

Ms Robertshaw said: “He always felt that he had created a model which could be rolled out across the region – and it is important for us to see his legacy come to life on this day.”

Skipton-based Rural Solutions, Leeds-based WPL Consulting and Leeds-based Thompson Brand Partners are also working on the scheme.