A popular farm in Bolton which expanded its business during the pandemic has plans to build a new milking parlour.

Smithills Open Farm currently serves 6,500 customers within a 10-mile radius.

It first began selling bottled milk in 2019, and after the popularity grew, it began to sell the product into Bolton.

The farm, on Smithills Dean Road, also began to produce ice cream, butter and yoghurts for customers.

It now wants a new parlour to facilitate even more of this.

Farm manager Louise Blundell said: "During Covid everyone wanted food delivering, that side of the business just ballooned.

"It was not just milk, it was our other products, ice cream, butter, cream and yoghurts, breakfast stuff.

"It really expanded during Covid, it is still growing now but at the same rate as before."

In the next six months it will double its total number of cows to 250.

Proposals for the new facility to accommodate this on Old Kiln Lane have been submitted to the council.

The farm is run by Anthony Grimshaw and son Carl.

The father moved to Smithhills in 1986 to start a dairy farm.

In a short space of time he had acquired 120 cows which he milked daily.

Bolton Council encouraged him to set up a visitor centre.

The farm opened up to the public in 2001 and now 170,000 people visit it each year.

In 2009 it was given a zoo licence which means it could expand the number of animals it was allowed to have on the premises.

This began with reptiles and owls but later they welcomed meerkats and skunks onto the property.

A statement from MacMarhsalls, rural chartered surveyors and planning consultants, on behalf of the applicants said the new plans would help to expand the milk round.

It said: “Given the issues faced in relation to food shortages, fuel and fertiliser prices the applicants are providing a product as part of their milk round which is purchased by local people, the new milking parlour will further allow the expansion of the milk round and improve the viability of the farming business.”