Potential new source of funding may be available soon to rural businesses in the Loddon and Test LEADER area

 A new area of Hampshire is hopefully going to be included in the next RDPE LEADER Programme. The former Loddon and Eversley LEADER, which covered Basingstoke and Deane BC and Hart District Council is aiming to expand to cover much of the previous excluded rural Test Valley. The new LEADER area will be known as the Loddon and Test LEADER and an application will be submitted to DEFRA early September, submitting the strategy, with a decision made by Oct/Nov. All being well, the new LEADER area will be ready to fund projects in January 2015.

The sorts of projects the new programme will fund must boost the rural economy, either through the creation of jobs, or growth of profits. It should ideally also benefit the local rural community in some way.

Last time, LEADER funded a wide variety of rural businesses, farmers, foresters and SMEs. For example, it funded the relocation of a cheese producing business, modernised a farm shop, funded a micro-brewery to expand, 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 equipment for a local tourism attraction, paid for development of rural business premises, funded a food trail and local produce scheme, and assisted a village hall to work with local businesses to develop innovative ways to bring in new footfall. Many more projects were funded, and all projects saw businesses grow successfully.

We are interested in hearing from you if you would like to benefit from the next round of LEADER. We don’t have all the details yet, but we expect that projects will need to provide 50% match funding and be able to show that their businesses will grow as a result of LEADER investment. If you are interested in being added to our email list, please email me your name, business name if applicable, address, phone number and email, at emily.preston@hants.gov.uk and I will add your details and let you know updates as things unfold. If you have an idea at this stage of what you may be interested in seeking funds for, please also let me know this. I can also email anyone a map of the proposed new area if they request this.

Emily Preston
Loddon and Test LEADER Programme Manager
01962 845560
07545 355449