Plans for Northumberland’s First Whisky Distillery Given the Thumbs Up by Planners.
Planning permission for the £Multi Million development of the Ad Gefrin Distillery in Wooler has been granted by Northumberland County Council. To be built on the former Redpath’s Yard adjacent to the A697, this major development is expected to become an exciting part of the region’s future economy – impacting local, national and international markets.
Today’s announcement is a significant milestone for the project, for the Ferguson Family – who’s vision this is, for the town of Wooler, and for north Northumberland. Sited at the forefront of an area known as ‘The Gateway to the Cheviots’, the new Distillery Experience will contribute significantly to the sustainable future of the area. In addition to local employment, and the showcasing of local products, it is projected to stimulate a variety of business opportunities building on the increased number of visitors to the town.
At the Ad Gefrin Distillery Experience the public will be able to explore the story of the area and the ancient Kingdom of Northumbria, behind-the-scenes tours, a bistro, whisky tastings, retail and events spaces. At the heart of the venture will be the production of a new Single Malt whisky and niche spirits that it is hoped will not only become the pride of the area and the tipples of tourists, but exported internationally. Up to 50 jobs will be created, many of them long-term, bringing employment to local people and new skilled workers to the area. The Ferguson family is also committed to supporting the local community where its roots lie and ensuring the wider economic impact of visitors to Wooler bolsters local businesses and increases spending in the area.
After extensive local consultation, the proposals won universal praise from residents and businesses alike. The County Council has now added its voice of approval to the detailed plans, which cover all stages of the distillery, from the clearing of the site, to opening the doors for business.
Planning permission provides the starting gun on the demolition and removal of the existing buildings and salvaging of the slates and external stone for re-use. Formal approval also means that work can now begin in earnest to bring the Ad Gefrin Distillery Experience to fruition.
On hearing that full planning had been granted, Alan Ferguson, Head of the Ferguson family, said: “We are thrilled with today’s decision and so grateful to Northumberland County Council for supporting our vision. This project has been a long time in the making, and now it will come to fruition. Although the ambitious timescales we had planned may have taken a small dent, this means that we are now able to move forward with all the energy and enthusiasm that we have stored up.”
“As well as commencing the demolition work on site in the next few weeks, this allows us to finalise requirements for the bespoke spirit stills with the manufacturers. They are integral to the future success of the Distillery, and when they are installed and commissioned, the heart of the enterprise will really start to beat.”
Award-winning local architect, Richard Elphick, adds: “This is a delegated decision by the Planning Department – we are so pleased that the council and their officers have responded so positively to the application and all of the proposals. We all worked together as a team to bring this successful consent to fruition.
“All of the planning officers we have dealt with have been hugely constructive in determining a response to such a large and complex proposal and we would like to thank them for their support.”
On hearing the news, Eileen Ferguson whose family the Redpaths originally owned the site, said: “We are absolutely delighted to have secured planning permission and now looking forward to transforming the site.
“I want to give a big thank you for all of the residents and local businesses throughout what has been a six-month consultation process. We received 100% support and look forward to the first chapter of Ad Gefrin which begins now. We have had the prologue, and this is the action.
“The Ad Gefrin name has a long history and is appropriate to a renaissance and new buoyancy for the economy. The Redpath and Ferguson families have been part of the fabric of the area for generations. Through our shop, restaurant and exhibition areas, we are totally committed to supporting Glendale by showcasing the best of Northumberland – such as food, drink, art and design.”
Peter Jackson, leader of the County Council, added his approval: “The Ad Gefrin project is one of the most exciting and innovative schemes to have been devised in Northumberland for years.
“The County Council is very happy to give its full support to something that will explore our vast range of history and further develop our fantastic visitor offer. I wish the project every success”, concluded Peter.
- Ad Gefrin takes its name from the Anglo-Saxon palace below Yeavering Bell. Both names take their meaning from the “hill of the goats”, which still roam the slopes today. The site on the banks of the Glen was a place of gathering and community, and the new distillery in Wooler aims to become a similar meeting spot in the 21st
- The Ferguson family behind the vision – an amalgamation of the local Redpath and Ferguson lineages – is part of the fabric of Northumberland with a heritage as a major local family run business in the area for almost 100 years.
- The currently dilapidated, redundant gateway site at the entrance to Wooler was once part of a former 19th century Salvation Army Laundry, and was originally bought by the Redpath family in the early 1930’s on the establishment of Redpath Bros. Haulage.
- Ad Gefrin will be the first whisky distillery in Northumberland in 200 years, reviving Northumbrian Whisky and Cheviot distilling.
- Ad Gefrin whisky will be a new prestige product for Northumberland capitalising on domestic and export markets and supporting local trade partnerships.
- Ad Gefrin will become a long-term employer in Wooler (creating up to 50 FTE jobs by Year 5), diversifying training and employment across spirit production, hospitality and visitor engagement.
- Ad Gefrin will create a high-quality visitor destination on one of the main Anglo-Scottish arterial routes, showcasing, promoting and selling diverse products from Glendale and Northumberland – and establishing a new start and end point for the UK’s renowned Whisky Trail.
- The Ferguson family is committed to further encouraging and championing inward investment and regeneration in Wooler, its High Street, and wider Glendale, as a distinctive tourist destination, and enhancing its reputation as a high-quality production area for food, drink and creative products.