Last chance for rural Norfolk businesses to apply for nearly £3m project funding

06 September 2018

Just over £2.8m is still available for rural Norfolk and north Suffolk businesses to apply for through an initiative managed by Norfolk County Council.

This European ‘LEADER’ funding has been guaranteed by the UK government for all projects that are contracted by 29 March 2019 and expressions of interest are needed by 27 September 2018.  This project outline is the first in the two-stage application process, and full applications will be needed by 15 November 2018.

Eligible projects need to deliver against individual Local Action Group (LAG) area priorities and 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.

Since Norfolk and north Suffolk’s LEADER programme started, the five LAGs (Brecks, Broads, Waveney Valley, Wensum and Coast and West Norfolk) have approved 112 projects and committed £5.3m of the £8.1m budget.

Cllr Barry Stone, Chair of Norfolk County Council’s Business and Property Committee, said:  “We are still looking for exciting projects that make a real difference to the local rural economy and help create new jobs.

“Norfolk County Council is continuing to lobby government for funding solutions post March 2019, but in the meantime we want to make sure that businesses take advantage of their last chance to apply for the current LEADER funding available.”

Duration Brewing was successful in applying for LEADER funding and will use their grant from West Norfolk LAG to establish premises for a new start-up brewery in West Acre.

Miranda Hudson from Duration Brewing explained: “Receiving LEADER funding is really helping us to establish a farmhouse brewery at West Acre, which will mean jobs and new industry for rural Norfolk and the restoration of a historic site.  Our aim is to create a family venue where locals and tourists alike can come to learn about the brewing process enjoyably, over a beer, with stunning priory views.

“The LEADER team is helpful and approachable and the sums given if you’re successful are considerable.  The application process does take some dedicated time and attention – but that only helps shape your strategy.  The benefits are many and I’d strongly encourage people to apply for this generous fund before it dries up!”

Other recently approved projects include:

  • Brecks LAG - The Painted Barn, Barnham Broom – awarded a grant to support a project to restore a barn into a home and interiors shop with a café and to restore an old milking parlour into a studio available for hire by health and wellbeing practitioners in Barnham Broom
  • Broads LAG – The Museum of the Broads, Stalham – received funding for a replacement, more efficient steam engine for their existing steam boat, and also a new electric day boat with the aim of helping increase visitor numbers
  • Waveney Valley LAG – Horham Dairy and Care Farm CIC, Horham – given a grant to construct a building that will house a goat’s milk processing room and a communal/packaging area, to connect the unit to mains electricity, and to purchase a pasteuriser for making goat’s cheese
  • Wensum & Coast LAG - Create, Cook and Prosper, North Walsham – awarded funding towards a project to restore an ancient listed building in the heart of North Walsham. It will provide the setting for a cafe and an arts centre with a community workshop and space for classes and performances

Rural businesses can find out more about their Local Action Group, how to apply for funding and see a list of all the application deadlines at www.norfolklags.co.uk

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Image supplied by Mark Newton Photography 

The 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 (see the European Commission website). 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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