James and Victoria Robertshaw

The owners of a Yorkshire farm shop crowned the best in the UK are to build a new purpose-built “farm store for the 21st century” on the outskirts of the Dales, after receiving planning approval yesterday.

Keelham Farm Shop is to open its second outlet at the vacant former Nicholas Smith Garage site on Gargrave Road, Skipton, after it was granted permission by Craven District Council planners.

The new store will create sixty new jobs and will provide a retail showcase of the best regional food, from hundreds of local producers and farmers, building on the Thornton-based business’s reputation.

Building work will start on site in winter 2013, with the new farm shop and activity barn open for business in autumn 2014.

Following 40 years’ developing a successful family-run business at the original Keelham Farm Shop, based on a working hill sheep farm on the outskirts of Bradford, co-owners and siblings James and Victoria Robertshaw, consider the second site to be a natural expansion of this concept; a “pioneering retail venue”, and part of a long-term plan to expand the business to other locations in Yorkshire.

Victoria says: “We knew that Skipton could be the perfect location for our second venture, as the whole area is rooted in values that chime with our own commitment to supporting the rural farming community; for the planning application to be accepted and so warmly received is fantastic news.

“We’ve had tremendous support from local people, famers and businesses in the Skipton area, some of whom have long been customers of our Thornton shop, for which the whole Keelham team is extremely grateful. It’s going to be such an exciting journey to bring to life the imaginative designs and our aspirations for a sustainable business that is part of the community.”

The purpose-built, eco-friendly farm shop will include a bakery, delicatessen and butchers, which will offer quality cuts of meat sourced weekly from local auction marts. Skipton-based CCM Quality Foods, whose Stanforths Butchers handles some of the meat preparation for the Thornton site, will be a key partner for the butchery service in Skipton with plans to use its meat processing unit based at Skipton Auction Mart, located next to the Skipton site.

James added, “We are a committed advocate of local farmers and suppliers, delivering a retail proposition built on the source, taste and affordability of its produce, and we’ve been actively inviting local farmers and producers to become a part of the Keelham story here in Skipton.”

The new farm shop will include a number of eco-friendly elements including a feature ‘living’ wall of herbs running through the centre of the building, photovoltaic solar panels, a wind turbine, sun pipes, wind catchers and a sedum roof.

As well as a shop, it will become a visitor attraction for the gateway to the Dales. It will include an activity barn and an outdoor live animal croft for goats, pigs and sheep, where children can learn about the origins of meat and dairy produce and a café offering hot and cold dishes made from locally sourced ingredients.

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