AN urban farm close to a country park has begun making and selling artisan ice cream after recent agriculture changes left its business at risk if being ‘unviable’.

Higher Woodhill Farm, Woodhill Road, Bury, close to Burrs Country Park, now operates as Jersey Girls Ice Cream after it applied to Bury Council for temporary change of use for a period of three years from a dairy farm to retail sale and manufacturing of ice cream.

In planning statement provided in support of the application, Jason Entwistle, of Mrs M Entwistle and Sons said the plans were to ‘maximise the opportunities presented by the location of the farm, and to alleviate some of the business pressures that have arisen due to the Coronavirus pandemic, and the disruption to markets for agricultural produce’.

The statement adds: “The application seeks consent to site three former containers, to be used for ice cream manufacture and retailing.

“This is an application for a temporary facility, for a period of three years, to allow the development of a proposal to create ‘Woodhill Farm Centre’, to be the subject of a future planning application, and to obtain the short-term benefits of increasing the farm business profit margins by carrying out direct sales of farm manufactured products.

“The intention is to use one of the proposed containers for retail sales, the second to house the ice cream making machinery and manufacturing and the third to be used as a store for the raw materials, such as fruit flavourings and cones, wafers and packaging.”

The business provides high cream Jersey cows milk from its herd to the well-known Longley Farm Dairy.

The submission said the farm needed to diversify due to ‘pressure from the supermarkets has driven a downward trend in the price of agricultural produce’.

It also said Brexit had affected the business with the withdrawal of the UK from the European Community and the Common Agricultural Policy having had ‘an initially negative effect upon farm incomes’.

Mr Entwistle said he was hoping the farm’s proximity to Burrs Park would aid Jersey Girls.

He said: “Higher Woodhill Farm is located at the access point, along Woodhill Road, to the Burrs Country Park, a 36-hectare parkland site owned by Bury Council.

“It has become one of the principal tourist attractions in the Bury area, attracting visitors from the Bury area and from a wider catchment in the North West Region.”

He added that the East Lancashire Railway had also constructed and commissioned a station halt at the Burrs site, bringing in additional visitors.

Last month, planners at Bury Council granted the application for a temporary period of three years.