Visitor attraction invests to grow family business and boost rural economy

Bad weather is no longer holding back a South Yorkshire farmyard visitor attraction which has invested in a bright, new indoor space for a “barn-storming” programme of activities.

Adam and Kelly Richardson have added a 1,600 sq ft to their family business, Lower Coates Farm, at Silkstone Common.

The new asset will allow them to expand their programme of fun and educational animal experiences and events.

The couple’s investment has been backed by a Rural Business Grant delivered by Barnsley Council through the Enterprising Barnsley programme and supported by the South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority (SYMCA).

This project is part-funded by the government’s UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF) via its integrated Rural England Prosperity Fund (REPF).

Adam and Kelly estimate the new windproof and watertight barn will enable them to increase business activity by at least 10% and create another full-time job within the next few months.

The indoor space will allow them to organise more activities for schools, farmyard events and animal experiences; extend their programme of fitness and wellbeing classes; and begin hosting community events, children’s parties and private functions. All without the risk of being rained off.

Kelly Richardson said: “The response we’ve had from the public and local community since we started offering farmyard experiences of all kinds 18 months ago and has been amazing and we’ve already grown every aspect of the business in response to demand.

“But it’s been so frustrating having to say no to some enquiries because we just haven’t had a large enough weather-proof space to cater for them.

“Our new, secure and accessible barn gives us loads of potential to do much more and we are excited to get going and grow the business further.”

Adam Richardson added: “If we hadn’t got the Rural Business Grant support, we would still have had to invest in a barn as we needed a fit-for-purpose indoor space to sustain our visitor attraction and venue offer.

“But, we would’ve had to settle for a smaller barn because that’s what we could have afforded.

“That would’ve restricted our opportunities; and we almost definitely wouldn’t have expanded so much that we needed to recruit to a new job. The big, new barn gives us a much better return on investment and puts us in a stronger position for the future.”

The Richardsons’ Rural Business Grant covered half the cost of their new build, delivered by Barnsley-based contractors Nicholson Roberts Ltd.

Business support advisor at Enterprising Barnsley Rachel Fletcher said: “Lower Coates Farm is a great example of a rural family business diversifying to create new income streams and boost the local economy.

“The Rural Business Grant has enabled Kelly and Adam to invest in growth in a way they just couldn’t have afforded alone. We look forward to seeing the business use its new asset to help achieve its targets for expansion and job creation.”