Focus on sustainable farming and diversification helps gain support for Welsh cheese factory plans

Focus on sustainable farming and diversification helps gain support for Welsh cheese factory plans

After months of planning and careful design, work on the new cheese production facility near Bangor has now commenced.

Planning permission has been granted for our client to create a £14m Welsh cheese factory and visitor centre celebrating the area’s farming history and high quality produce. As well as creating 30 jobs, the project will see a cooperative formed for the factory’s suppliers which will hold a 40% stake in the business.

From the planned opening in summer 2018, the plant will be processing up to 70m litres of milk a year, and there is the possibility that operations will expand in future.

The design team recognised the need for sustainable design so that the plant will be powered entirely by renewable energy: biomass, industrial heat pumps and solar PV. Because of the chosen location, the plant’s supplying farms will all be within 40 miles, keeping the carbon footprint to a minimum.

Seven’s design, led by Ian Chapman, also balanced the needs of a working factory with the desire to open the site to the public. Access to certain areas, including a viewing area and visitor centre, had to be created with a safe layout that would not conflict with the transport requirements of the factory, both for the inbound milk and the outbound cheese.

Under the leadership of farmer Dafydd Wynne Finch and his business partner Rhys Williams, the aim of the project is to create a new product that will add value to local milk. Farmers will have a new outlet for their cows’ production, which should help to secure the future of dairy farming in the area even in the face of changes such as Brexit. Some beef and sheep farms in the surroundings are likely to be converted to dairy in order to benefit from supplying the new factory.

The plant will also celebrate the rich farming heritage of the area, and the high quality produce that comes from Wales and the wider UK. Modern food production and shopping habits mean people are often far removed from food producers: the visitor centre will seek to educate the public about the journey from farm to plate.

The plans received backing from the Welsh Government and Gwynedd Council’s economic team, recognising the sustainable nature of both the design and the business itself.