‘Leader’ scheme still has £6m available for rural businesses, says Norfolk County Council

Framing and renewable energy working in tandem at Terrington St Clement. Picture: Ian Burt

Framing and renewable energy working in tandem at Terrington St Clement. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: Ian Burt

A funding stream aimed at helping the region's rural businesses has passed a £1.5m milestone – and there is still £6m available to be allocated to projects in Norfolk and north Suffolk.

Since the launch of the Leader programme, the five Local Action Groups (LAGs) in the Brecks, Broads, Waveney Valley, Wensum and Coast and West Norfolk have awarded more than £1.5m to 41 rural businesses.

The scheme is managed by Norfolk County Council, distributing money generated from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development.

The council said almost £6m of funding is still available for rural businesses – and 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 LAG manager, said: '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.'

Keith Kiddie, chair of the council's business and property committee, added: 'The Leader programme is a vital source of funding for rural businesses in Norfolk. 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.'

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The LAGs include representatives from businesses, community organisations and public authorities, and aim to help small businesses and community organisations create and sustain employment within their respective areas.

Eligible projects must meet the criteria set out for each respective LAG area but, broadly, they must support at least one of the following goals: increasing farm productivity; small enterprises and farm diversification; rural tourism; provision of rural services; cultural and heritage activity; increasing forestry productivity.

Successful applicants so far include:

• Paws for Coffee, Wymondham – a project to convert redundant farm buildings into a dog-friendly café.

• Bluebell Wood Burial Park, Hainford – to enable the building of a ceremonial hall with capacity for 120 people.

• The School House, Framingham Earl – this new Community Interest Company will create a modern café with a focus on people who find themselves lonely, socially isolated, or caring for someone with dementia or other health problems.

• Godwick Hall, Tittleshall – to develop accommodation for weddings, including new en-suite bedroom, service kitchen, family room, and heating upgrades.


Guidance on applications and project ideas will be available at drop-in sessions being held at this week's Royal Norfolk Show:

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

For more information on Local Action Groups and Leader funding, click here.