As the largest investment in an independent consumer development in Wales for several years, the new £6.5 million Bodnant Welsh Food Centre opened its doors to the public on Monday 9th July 2012.
Situated in the Conwy Valley near the world-famous Bodnant Garden, Bwyd Cymru Bodnant Welsh Food is the brainchild of Bodnant estate owners, Michael and Caroline McLaren. Their vision of creating an innovative centre for the production, promotion and enjoyment of Welsh food has seen the transformation of a range of 18th century farm buildings at Furnace Farm, just off the A470.
Construction works included the refurbishment and conversion of the farm house into a five-bedroom accommodation centre. This element of the project involved the replacement of the old roof with a traditional Welsh slate roof and the removal of all internal walls in order to facilitate the reconfiguration of the interior. Feature arches and new box sash windows were incorporated, whilst render on the external elevations was removed to reveal the original stone walls, which were in turn re-pointed.
A former stable block was comprehensively renovated and converted to include a chocolatier outlet on the ground floor and an administrative office on the first floor, whilst the adjoining barns were extensively refurbished. Further works included the demolition and re-building of a collection of single-storey buildings known as the North Range Buildings, and the construction of a new production unit with refrigeration facilities for meat and dairy products delivered to the site.
Main contractor for the project was K&C Construction and the architect was Capita Symonds.
The new Bodnant Welsh Food Centre is the only one of its kind in Wales and celebrates the very best in Welsh, seasonal and local produce. Comprising a new Welsh food shop, dairy, bakery and butchery, the centre also boasts a tea room and a restaurant that serves food made with ingredients from the farm shop. In total, over 50% of the produce sold and eaten at the shop will derive from North Wales, whilst 70% of the produce will be sourced from across Wales.
Further facilities include a cookery school, training facilities and farmhouse accommodation, whilst the centre is also home to a new National Beekeeping Centre for Wales.
Bodnant Welsh Food Managing Director, Sand Boyd, commented:
“There has been nothing like this in Wales before. The vision for Bodnant Welsh Food is to give local suppliers of high quality produce an outlet they would not otherwise have, to sell their goods. Our customers will be able to buy products made with the finest ingredients, sourced as locally as possible.
“We’ve recruited more than 60 people, 95% of whom live in this area and will spend their wages locally. In addition to the support of the local people, we also expect thousands of tourists to visit the centre each year, bringing further economic benefits to the area.”
The centre has been backed by a £3.3 million investment from the Welsh Government, including the European Regional Development Fund, Targeted Match Fund and a Processing and Marketing Grant as part of the Rural Development Plan.