Funding milestone for rural projects in Norfolk and north Suffolk

28 June 2017

Funding allocated to rural businesses in Norfolk and north Suffolk through an initiative managed by Norfolk County Council has passed the £1.5 million mark.

This funding is from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) delivered via Defra. In the UK this fund is managed by the Rural Payments Agency and distributed via the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

The Local Action Groups (LAGs) deliver the funding under the ‘LEADER’ approach, which decentralises the decision and funding powers allowing the partnership to support the rural economy at a local level. The LAGs comprise representatives from businesses, community organisations and public authorities, and aim to help micro and small businesses and community organisations create and sustain employment within their respective areas.

Cllr Keith Kiddie, Chair of Norfolk County Council’s Business and Property Committee, said: “The LEADER programme is a vital source of funding for rural businesses in Norfolk and supporting businesses through Local Action Groups is an effective and targeted way of delivering funding where it is needed.

“Reaching this milestone is a great achievement and we hope to see many more businesses and community organisations come forward to access the funding over the next two years.”

Almost £6 million of funding is still available for rural businesses to apply for through the scheme. Eligible projects need to deliver against the priorities set out for each respective LAG area but, broadly speaking, they must support one or more of the following: increasing farm productivity; micro and small enterprises and farm diversification; rural tourism; provision of rural services; cultural and heritage activity; increasing forestry productivity. All approved projects will be fully funded, even if they continue beyond the UK's departure from the EU.

Andy Thorpe, Norfolk County Council’s Local Action Group Manager, said: “Not only have we allocated more than £1.5 million of funding, we’ve also received nearly 150 outline applications. LEADER funding continues until 2019 though so there’s still plenty of opportunity to submit an application.

“A wide variety of businesses have been awarded funding so far – everything from vineyards to coffee shops – so it’s always worth checking to see if your business might be eligible. It isn’t just for existing businesses either, it’s there to support start-ups as well, so it could be what your business idea needs to get going.”

Since Norfolk and north Suffolk’s LEADER programme started, the five LAGs (Brecks, Broads, Waveney Valley, Wensum and Coast and West Norfolk) have awarded just over £1.5 million to 41 rural businesses. Some of the businesses to benefit are:

Paws for Coffee, Wymondham
 - this project will see redundant farm buildings converted into a dog-friendly café. The conversion will also see building space converted into a facility for a dog-grooming salon, offices and potential retail space. The aim is to create a centre for dog owners and their pets that is accessible by car but, more importantly, at the end of about a one-mile walk from Wymondham.

Bluebell Wood Burial Park, Hainford
- a woodland burial park with four distinctive habitats has been awarded funding to enable the building of a ceremonial hall with capacity for 120 people. The hall will include a storage area, plant for heating and electric systems, toilets, small kitchen, gathering area, office and private family room. It will help provide the best possible experience for loved ones at their time of need.

The School House, Framingham Earl - this new Community Interest Company will create a modern café that will be inclusive to all but with a focus on people who find themselves lonely, socially isolated, or living with or caring for someone with dementia or other health problems. It will also offer interaction, support and information sharing as well as a wide range of activities.

Godwick Hall, Tittleshall - funding will allow for development of the accommodation at the hall to meet the rising trend for more intimate weddings. It will provide a new ground floor en-suite bedroom, service kitchen to provide meals for guests, family room for relaxation, and upgrade of the services and existing heating system to be more efficient.

Foras, Stowbridge - this producer of natural stone products will develop a new manufacturing and storage area, which will allow them to bring more of the manufacturing in-house and improve the management and control of their stock. It will enable the business to work much more efficiently, reducing costs and the lead time for bespoke products.

Rural businesses, including those involved in agriculture and forestry as well as community organisations, can find out more about their Local Action Group and how to apply for funding at www.norfolklags.co.uk

Members of the LEADER team will be holding drop-in surgery sessions at the Royal Norfolk Show this week to offer guidance about applying for LEADER funding. Please come and discuss your project idea with them at these locations:

Wednesday 28 June    
11am-12pm - CLA - stand 146, Third Drive
12-1pm - NFU - stand 273, Avenue 9
2-3pm - Anglia Farmers - stand 398, Fifth Drive

Thursday 29 June
11am-3pm - CLA - stand 146, Third Drive
12-1pm - NFU – stand 273, Avenue 9
1-2pm - FSB - stand 145, Third Drive
2-3pm - Anglia Farmers - stand 398, Fifth Drive

Notes for editors

fThe Local Action Groups (LAGs) deliver this funding under the ‘Leader’ approach, which means that LAGs enlist the energy and resources of local people and organisations in public, private and third sectors, through forming a partnership. This decentralises the decision and funding powers to the local level presenting a ‘bottom-up’ approach.

The five respective LAG areas comprise: 
  • The Brecks (including parts of northern Suffolk)
  • The Broads
  • Wensum and Coast
  • Waveney Valley (including parts of northern Suffolk)
  • West Norfolk

LEADER ("Liaison Entre Actions de Développement de l'Économie Rurale"), meaning 'Links between the rural economy and development actions'), is a ‘bottom-up’ approach which enlists the energy and resources of local people who come together as an empowered group to develop an area.

This funding is from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) delivered via Defra. In the UK this fund is managed by the Rural Payments Agency and distributed via the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE).

The overarching aims of the programme are to:

  • Contribute towards improving the environment and the quality of life in rural areas
  • Strengthen the rural economy by helping micro and small businesses to create and sustain employment within the area
  • Improve competitiveness, particularly in the agriculture and forestry sectors

More information can be found at www.norfolklags.co.uk

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