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Hawes creamery to be redeveloped but cheese-making ends at Kirkby Malzeard
DAIRY bosses have unveiled multi-million pound redevelopment plans to secure the future of the Wensleydale Creamery.
The proposal, submitted to planners at the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority, includes a new cheese production plant, visitor centre, smoke house and offices.
The redevelopment would see all cheese production moved to the Gayle Lane site, in Hawes, with the company's second dairy in Kirkby Malzeard, near Ripon, handling blending, order packing and dispatching.
David Hartley, managing director of Wensleydale Dairy Products, said the work at both sites was estimated to cost between £6m and £8m.
He said: "We have submitted a planning application for a new dairy on the Gayle Lane site. It's a brand new building that will replace the existing structure which was built in 1953.
"Our existing building is 60 years old now and we feel we need to put facilities in place for the next 60 years.
"This will give us greater capacity, improved efficiencies and better standards of manufacturing."
Mr Hartley said the dairy was now supplying all the UK's major retailers and had secured a number of contracts worldwide, including the US and Canada.
He said that to continue supplying these markets it was important the business had the correct infrastructure in place.
Despite recent turmoil within the dairy trade which has included protests from farmers angry about falling milk prices, Mr Hartley said he remained optimistic about the future of the milk and cheese industry, and hoped the redevelopment would create a sustainable future for the business, its employees and its farm suppliers.
He added: "At the moment we're pulling the plans together and the next significant move will be to press the green button and say we're going to commit the investment."
The new facility will include a whey processing plant, which will allow the company to take advantage of a new and potentially lucrative market.
Improved viewing facilities for visitors will also be created.
If planners back the proposal and the company decides to push ahead with the redevelopment, enabling work would potentially start next year with the main build taking place the following year.
A public consultation event has already taken place in Hawes, with plans getting a positive response from residents, Mr Hartley said.
Upper Dales county councillor John Blackie said the redevelopment had his backing.
"It's a hugely important local employer which has come forward with a very bold scheme to completely redevelop there visitor centre and make a much more welcoming front end.
"As local member I welcome the investment they're proposing to make - there is no better way of securing a future than bricks and mortar."