THE creamery that produces Wallace and Gromit’s favourite cheese is set for major changes after a multi-million pound redevelopment was given planning consent.

Staff at the Wensleydale Creamery, Hawes, are delighted at the news that the Yorkshire Dales Nati-onal Park Authority has backed plans to demolish the existing creamery and build a brand new cheese production plant.

The new development will allow the creamery, which has a £25 million turnover and more than 200 emp-loyees, to focus all of its business activities on one site at Gayle Lane.

The popular visitor centre, which includes a cheese-making viewing gallery, museum, cheese shop, deli, gift shop and restaurant, will be incorporated within the new creamery, making the factory tour easily accessible to the thousands of visitors.

The new buildings will include a whey processing plant and improved viewing facilities for visitors. Managing director David Hartley said this was the first stage in the company’s bid to improve efficiency, capacity and continued production of Yorkshire Wensleydale cheese.

“We have been producing cheese from the current creamery building for 60 years and our exciting plans will contribute to the sus-tainable growth of our business and in the Wensleydale economy.

“The planning decision recognises and supports our ambition to invest in our business to ensure effi-ciency, capability and sus-tainability, but most importantly create a viable legacy for cheese-making in Wensleydale for future generations.”

Mr Hartley added that the cheese blending and packing would continue to be carried out at Kirkby Malzeard, near Ripon.

The business, which holds the title Supreme Champion at the British Cheese Awards, uses traditional methods to hand-craft cheese to age-old recipes.

It is hoped the growth will deliver a ‘showcase facility’ for production. And although the proposed new building will fit the footprint of the existing one, it is designed to use the space better.

Mr Hartley said: “The next stage is to responsibly work through the project’s financials, agree final details with planning officers and confirm and appropriate timescale for the redevelopment work to start.”