Plans to expand Lancaster Brewery and create a new gin and vodka distillery on the site have been revealed.
The brewery, based at Lancaster Leisure Park in Wyresdale Road, has applied to expand its existing building, with a new function room at the front providing an “upmarket” space for weddings and conferences.
It is also proposing a new extension to the side of the building with a separate entrance to its current, more informal, Brewhouse and Tap venue.
The design would pay particular attention to sound proofing, and the proposed new glass fronted Lancaster Distillery area, which will make vodka and gin, would be housed in a single storey extension at the front of the existing building.
This would lead into the new venue space, which could then be opened out into one large space with the existing Brewhouse and Tap and a long connecting bar, which could accommodate 300 seated and 600 standing, double the current capacity.
Phil Simpson, director of C2 Investments, the parent company of Lancaster Brewery, said that the Lancaster Distillery would aim to rediscover forgotten Lancaster recipes, ingredients and botanicals. He said that the plans had been in the pipeline for years, and that he was also considering a “snug” bar area to open in the evenings following pleas from local residents.
The wider site has accommodated hundreds of new homes over the last few years, prompting worries about noise from the venue, which hosts the annual Lancaster Food and Drink Festival.
Mr Simpson said: “We’ve not had too many noise complaints for years now, but there’s always a risk that noise can hack people off pretty quickly. We’ve used marquees to host events up to now, but now we think we’ve found a way of making it work.
“The new building will be designed to subdue any noise as everything will be absorbed.
“What this will give us is one of the biggest function spaces in Lancaster, which will allow us to do things like conferences and make for a really flexible space.”
Subject to planning, work would begin early next year and take 12 months to complete.
Lancaster Brewery was set up in 2005 in an industrial unit in Caton Road by Matt Jackson and Phil Simpson. It is now one of the largest brewers in the North West of England and sells its products throughout the UK, China and Eastern Europe. It employs around 25 people locally, and the new developments would require an additional 12-15 members of staff.
The brewery said: “From a business perspective, as well as improving our standing with our immediate neighbours and add extra capacity to our function offering, we are also keen to develop a distillery production area in this new building integrated within a function room.
“Lancaster Distillery” will be an entirely new venture, sitting alongside Lancaster Brewery and will further develop our brand as a quality drink producer.
“The distillery will produce both vodka and gin to an exceptional quality threshold and be sold predominantly to our existing retail and licensed premises customer base.
“Alongside a tireless commitment to brewing excellence, we have developed the Brewhouse & Tap to be a sought after venue able to handle both large and intimate social events.
“We have a steady procession of weddings, Christenings, business meetings, charity events, birthday and anniversary parties throughout the year.
“Without these functions this element of the Lancaster Brewery business would not be viable.
“Alongside the BrewHouse & Tap’s functions sit the annual events and special one-off occasions.
“These include the Lancaster Food & Drink Festival and Lancaster Christmas Market, which are hugely popular occasions attracting people from across the county.
“However, we recognise the Brewhouse & Tap building is not currently perfect.
“The building was never designed for leisure events and sound nuisance to our neighbours is a constant worry.
“We have invested in a special porch at one side of the building to prevent sound leakage and to a certain degree this has worked.
“Preventing the noise escaping the front of the building, where smokers tend to occasionally congregate and doors get propped open on hot nights, has proved more difficult.
“In addition, we have been forced to use large, costly marquees for many events to allow us to run, for example, the Lancaster Food & Drink Festival.
“The hiring of such large marquees is both complex and not ideal from a sound insulation perspective.
“We are proposing a new extension to our current building, designed to address the problems we currently have with sound leakage, but also to assist us in avoiding the use of marquees in the future.
“The new building will be designed with a great emphasis placed on sound proofing.
“It will seek to curtail noise from escaping from the front entrance of our existing building and make our entire business a quieter and more neighbourly building.
“We have proposed a new air conditioning system so doors do not need propping open on warmer days, the extensive use of sound absorbing materials throughout, improvements to the existing building to mitigate sound leakage through the walls and other enhancements across the development.
“This has been done, not just to curtail any residual noise problems with our current neighbours, but also with half an eye on any future residential developments that may at some point be constructed quite close to our premises.
“In essence, we are proposing a fresh start for the brewery. A more flexible, comfortable, spacious and neighbour friendly space for our visitors alongside a new exciting local artisan production business that will operate in full view of our visiting guests.
“This costly venture will not be without risk in these current uncertain economic times, but we are confident that it will result in a more impressive, dynamic and socially responsible venue that will further enhance our reputation as a quality local business.”