Project The Courtyard Dairy, Settle

The Courtyard Dairy is an award-winning cheese monger situated on the outskirts of Austwick, on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales National Park and the Forest of Bowland AONB.

Since its opening in 2012, owners Kathy and Andy Swinscoe have developed a thriving business storing, maturing and selling high quality farmhouse cheeses direct from individual farms across the United Kingdom and Europe.  The Courtyard Dairy supplies to top restaurants across the country as well as direct to members of the public via mail order and from their on-site shop.

Native were asked to design and manage the extension of the existing stone barn building to more than double premises and provide a beautiful shop – immersive cheese experience -, a new cheese themed café space drawing on the beautiful surrounding natural landscape, complementary museum and cheese interpretation. The other important aspects of the brief included hard working, functional spaces including chilled cheese cutting area, cheese making room, packing and processing all to support the mail order aspect of the business. In addition, the design added floor area for dedicated cheese storage for maturation within an underground store spanning the whole footprint of the new extension.

It was essential that the design was responsive to the flow of the business and supported improved operational efficiencies and quality of experience for visitors and staff.  Additionally careful integration of services was important to the client who was keen to reduce their net energy consumption and CO2 through heat reclamation from chillers and power generation from roof mounted PVs.

The extension takes influence from typical agricultural shed form with larch timber cladding. A black clad link separates between the existing stone building and the new extension taking visitors from the rich, rustic, cheese lined interior of the shop through to the lofty bright café space with sweeping views across the AONB and National Park.

An essential part of the scheme was to improve the accessibility of the building to improve the experience for all visitors. This included a new ramped entrance and single level accessible facilities.

Native managed the design phase of the project up to construction, navigating a smooth planning process whereby the scheme enjoyed the full support of Craven District Council, irrespective of the significant scale of extension being almost twice the footprint of the existing building.

Challenges befell the project at tender stage when the industry was hit with exponentially rising steel costs and prices that could not be held. Native worked closely with the client and the contractor to navigate this period and review the design for suitable opportunities to make savings while safeguarding the critical aspects of the scheme at the heart of the brief.

Christmas 2023 will be the first post completion Christmas for the Courtyard Dairy and we are gunning for Andy and Kathy to have their best trading year yet, supported by their wonderful new building and their unwavering ambition.