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Go-ahead for £3m Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton
A £3m “supercharged” farm shop is to be built on the outskirts of Skipton – despite the advice of a retail expert.
Councillors were told the decision whether to allow a Keelham Farm Shop next to the Gargrave Road roundabout was finely balanced.
Built on the site of the former Nicholas Smith’s garage and pair of semi-detached houses, the “very modernistic” development – due to open next year – will include a shop, café, playbarn, croft with live animals, and parking for 127 cars.
The shop will sell meat and vegetables, from local farmers and businesses, and will have a bakery and delicatessen.
There will also be a single 15m-high wind turbine and the building will feature photovoltaic panels and green “sedum” roof.
But Monday’s planning committee, which approved the application, heard an independent retail consultant had concluded there was likely to be a “significantly adverse” impact on the vitality and viability of Skipton’s town centre.
Martin Tonks, employed by the council to help officers form a recommendation and consider evidence from Keelham Farm, Ltd, advised that the application be refused.
His report said that at four times the size of the original Keelham farm shop in Bradford, the Skipton scheme was probably larger than needed and there were potentially better sites in the town centre.
He believed it would compete directly with town centre butchers and independents, that it would hit the farm shop in Cracoe – the only shop in the village – and there would be a cumulative impact arising from a proposed new store at the South Skipton Business Park and the new Aldi in Keighley Road.
Ian Swain, the council’s development control manager, told councillors it was a finely balanced decision.
Councillor Simon Myers said he felt for the independent retailers of Skipton and the area’s farm shops.
“This farm shop supermarket is going to sell meat, fresh produce and bakery, which is the mainstay of many small retailers in Skipton and the diversity that gives Skipton its character.
“I find it very difficult to see how this can’t have a very serious and adverse effect on those retailers,” he said.
Councillors heard the scheme had been welcomed by residents, by Skipton Town Council and by Stirton Parish Meeting, although with some reservations about possible access problems.
Coun Robert Heseltine said there had been “significant support” for a farm shop, but pointed out, in reality, it was virtually a supermarket.
Couns Alan Sutcliffe and David Ireton called for restrictions to be placed on what could be sold, including horticultural tools and farm chemicals.
Coun Robert Mason said he did not accept there would be an impact on town centre shops and pointed out they had survived the arrival of both Tesco and Morrisons.
“It is a supermarket, but it will be an expensive supermarket and it will attract a different type of shopper,” he said.
Coun Mark Wheeler described it as a “supercharged farm shop with some bits on the side”.
After the meeting, co-owner Victoria Robertshaw welcomed the decision and said work would start in the winter and the business open in the autumn of 2014.
“We knew 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,” she said.