The following information comes from Test Valley Borough Council…
New EU fund to support rural business in Test Valley
European Union LEADER Grant Funding of has been allocated to support the development
of small businesses and not-for-profit groups in the rural Test Valley and surrounding areas
over the next 5 years. The Grant Fund is administered by three Local Action Groups (LAG)
working in partnership with Test Valley Borough Council and other local authorities.
Rural-based businesses and not-for-profit organisations in LEADER LAG areas will be able
to apply for a share of the million pound funds from June 2015. Successful applicants could
receive grants ranging up to £50,000, but recipients will be required to provide their own
‘match funding’, the proportion of which depends on the type of project. Precise rules will
vary between the three areas. The funding will support a wide range of investments to help
farming and forestry businesses to expand, improve their productivity or diversify as well as
grants to enable small enterprises in rural areas to start-up and grow. There will also be
support for projects which provide services to the rural communities.
LEADER funds are distributed via Defra (Department for Environment, Food, and Rural
Affairs) directly to the Local Action Groups, whose role is to assess grant applications and
ensure that the money will be used to meet agreed local needs and priorities. Membership of
the LAG is drawn from a wide range of local organisations representing the business and
farming communities, statutory bodies and the voluntary sector.
In the last programme, which wasn’t available in all parts of Test Valley, LEADER funded a
wide variety of rural businesses, farmers, foresters and smaller enterprises. For example, it
funded the conversion of farm buildings into a B&B; modernised a farm shop; funded the
expansion of a micro-brewery; paid for new forestry equipment for a forestry contractor;
funded a new café; assisted a cheese producer to pasteurise their own milk; paid for wood
processing equipment, funded capital building and equipment for several tourism attractions
and many more projects which saw businesses grow successfully.
In the north of the Borough, Bourne Valley ward will continue to be included in the North
Wessex Downs LEADER area; southern Test Valley (up as far as Romsey) will now be
covered by New Forest LEADER, leaving the majority of the borough to fall within the new
Loddon Test Valley LEADER Programme. Andover and Romsey are both excluded from
LEADER funding due to its focus on rural areas.
If you would like to discuss your project idea please contact:
Bourne Valley – firstname.lastname@example.org
Southern Test Valley – sally.igra@NFDG.gov.uk and
Rest of Test Valley contact email@example.com