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Rural Development Programme for England..

The Rural Development Programme will help you improve the environment, support your business or promote growth in your local economy.

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) is part of the Common Agricultural Policy, and is jointly-funded by the EU and the Government. The schemes will start in 2015, and more information is available here:-  https://www.gov.uk/topic/farming-food-grants-payments/rural-grants-payments

The Programme will support 3 main areas:

1) Managing the environment. There will be a new environmental land management scheme. If you’re a farmer, forester or other land manager, you will be able to apply for funding to restore, conserve and enhance our natural environment.

2) Increasing farming and forestry productivity. Around £140 million will be invested to support farming and forestry businesses.

3) Growing the rural economy. Funding will be available to start or grow your business   The Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and LEADER Local Action Groups will be able to fund projects in rural areas on the rural economy and to create jobs


The LEADER approach is a well established method of delivering Rural Development Programme funds at a local level.  In England this is being delivered by 80 Local Action Groups (LAGs) and it targets rural areas with specific needs and priorities.

The Dorset Local Action Groups bring together people interested in the area. LEADER ensures that it is local knowledge and experience which decides what and where funding would make the most difference. We have been delegated powers of strategy and delivery to identify and address some of the issues raised by our rural communities and businesses.

There are six National LEADER Priorities

  • Increase farm productivity
  • Increase forest productivity
  • Support small and micro businesses and farm diversification
  • Boosting rural tourism
  • Provide rural services
  • Provide cultural and heritage activities

Find out more about the LEADER approach in the Rural Development Programme 

Local Action Group Contacts:

Dorset boasts two LAG’s

Northern_LAG_Logo_RGB_StraightSarah Harbige Northern Dorset Local Action Group LEADER Programme Manager

t: 01305 228699 | email


Southern_LAG_Logo_RGB_StraightJames Roberts Southern Dorset Local Action Group LEADER Programme Support Officer

t: 01305 225525 | email

For more information please click here:- https://dorsetleader.org.uk/ or contact

Dorset LEADER Programme, c/o/ Economy & Enterprise, Dorset County Council, Dorchester, Dorset, DT1 1XJ

Tel: 01305 225525

Challenge Calls

There is still time to apply for a grant under the Challenge Call for ‘Community Places’ projects.  The Local Action Group identified this area for specific support in it’s 2014 Local Development Strategy.  For more information see https://www.southerndorsetlag.org.uk/the-sdlag-sets-a-challenge-to-support-rural-communities-local-products-and-tourism/

Call 2 Community Places, Community Hubs:  Up to £183,000 is available to be shared across several projects. These projects will support rural communities to create new provision for rural services across multiple or shared services.  The closing date for first stage applications is 2 March 2017.

The call is competitive and only those which meet the set criteria will be invited to make an application.

Grant Schemes now open

Locality; Community Buildings Grants
Any Town or Parish Council, Neighbourhood Forum or qualifying community group can apply for Pre-Feasibility grants (£1000 to £10,000) and Project Support grants (£5000 to £40,000) to help move a community building or community housing project to the point at which a Community Right to Build Order

Tesco Bags of Help
Bags of Help is now is always open to applications from community projects. Bags of Help is funded by Tesco customers through the 5p carrier bag levy. Projects must deliver a physical environmental improvement and/or encourage use and long term sustainability of outdoor spaces

Viridor Credits
Small and large grants scheme for Community or heritage and biodiversity projects.

More than a Pub – Plunkett Foundation
The Community Pub Business Support Programme is a unique two year programme established to help support community ownership of pubs in England. Its value is £3.62 million and is jointly funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and Power to Change.

Woodland Carbon Fund
A new grant opened on 10 November aimed at encouraging planting of new large-scale multipurpose woodlands across the country. This will help to meet Government’s future carbon targets and deliver a wide range of other benefits including increased recreation, biodiversity, improved water quality, prevention of soil erosion, enhanced flood protection and producing timber and wood fuel.

Community Asset Fund – Sport England
From 30 January 2017, sports clubs and community organisations will be able to apply for investment from the Community Asset Fund – Sport England’s new capital fund dedicated to enhancing the spaces in local communities that give people the opportunity to be active.This fund will have a value of £15 million per annum with the anticipated size of bids between £1000 and £150,000. There is no deadline to apply and awards will be made from February 2017.

Bright Ideas Fund – Locality
Round 2 opens in February 2017.
The Community Business Bright Ideas Fund aims to give community groups the support and tools to start setting up their community business. It also aims to give groups the early stage finance needed to carry out consultation with local people and feasibility studies to develop a community business idea the community wants and needs. A programme of support and grants of up to £20,000 is available to develop your community business idea.