Rural Communities Fund - rural retailers and community enterprises scheme guidance

Applications need to be submitted electronically using the link at the bottom of this page.
You will see confirmation of your application and a grant reference number upon submission.

The ‘rural retailers and community enterprises’ theme of the Rural Communities Fund provides funding for retailers and community enterprises in rural Hampshire.

The priorities of the theme are to:

  • Help retailers grow and increase their productivity by enhancing the services they offer and providing new ones

  • Help develop both new and existing community enterprises that have a retailing element and show potential to develop into a profitable business that will impact positively on the local area, community and economy

  • Support the introduction or expansion of local products and locally produced food and drink into rural retailing outlets, in particular through collaboration with Hampshire Fare and other local businesses and producers

Grant criteria and eligibility
  • Projects must be discussed with the Rural Communities Fund Team prior to submitting an application, email:

  • Applications must include a short three year business plan (template provided in the Supporting Information Form)

  • Projects must demonstrate how they will grow their business and provide value for money

  • Projects must show how they will enhance the local community

  • Projects must prove that they are not in direct competition with another business in the same village

  • Projects must be in an area/village with a population of less than 5,000 residents

  • Successful applicants must complete the project and all purchases within 12 months and send all information required to claim the grant

Funding criteria

We can provide grants of between £1,000 and £10,000. Eligible businesses/enterprises must contribute a minimum of 50% of total eligible costs. Therefore the total minimum project cost would be £2,000 (achieving a grant of £1,000).

For commercial businesses, the match funding cannot be sourced from any other grant making authority. Successful applicants will receive 50% of the grant upfront and the final 50% when the project is complete.

For community enterprises, the match funding can be sourced from other grants. Successful applicants will receive 100% of the grant upfront, however any unspent funding must be returned when the project is complete.

Who can apply

The scheme is open to any retailing business/enterprise selling any of the following:- food/drink; essential fresh produce; locally sourced food (applicants are encouraged to consider becoming members of Hampshire Fare). Craft industries may be considered if a positive impact on other local food retailing businesses can be demonstrated.

Eligible businesses/enterprises include:

  • Retailing businesses or community buildings comprising post offices

  • Village shops

  • Village markets

  • Butchers

  • Bakeries

  • Farm shops

  • Cafes and tea rooms

  • Newsagents

  • Mobile facilities

  • Pubs

  • Community owned woodlands (if comprising a retail element such as a café)

  • Pop up shops/cafes

What we can fund

Below is a list of the sorts of projects we could fund, this list is not exclusive. You must contact us by email before applying to find out if your project will be eligible.

  • Introducing/increasing the range of locally produced high quality foods

  • Improvements to sales area e.g. food counters, shelving, lighting, heating etc.

  • Internal modernisation e.g. flooring, internal fit-out, energy saving devices etc.

  • External appearance e.g. signage, shop front improvements, window blinds etc.

  • Development of parking facilities e.g. creating additional parking or improvements to layout of existing parking

  • Development of local delivery services

  • Security e.g. CCTV, alarms etc.

  • Developing websites and advertising (to support the eligible retail activity)

  • Upgrade of equipment to improve business efficiency e.g. improved energy efficiency, stock control (e.g. epos systems)

  • Retail advice and guidance, marketing and promotion e.g. we encourage applicants seeking to improve the efficiency of their business to get independent advice and a grant can be used for reports/business plans to help do this in the first instance, as well as to implement the recommendations made (as a second application)

  • Projects supporting creative locations for essential services, such as shops within pubs, village halls, churches or parish halls etc.

  • Setting up a community enterprise that will develop rural retail services

  • Collaborative projects with local producers and other local retailers

What we can’t fund

The scheme will not fund:

  • Businesses within population areas of more than 5,000 residents. Priority will be given to smaller settlements with limited services

  • Like for like replacement equipment or any general maintenance. We will only fund items that will add new value to the business/enterprise

  • Running costs e.g. staff costs, purchase of stock or perishable items

  • Standard computer equipment

  • Non-independent commercial organisations (i.e. with more than one outlet)

  • Loans

Contact the Rural Communities Fund – rural retailers and community enterprises

Before submitting an application you must discuss your project with the Rural Communities Fund Team. Contact us now and we will get in touch to advise on the eligibility of your project. When advised follow the application guidance to complete your online application form and Supporting Information Form.

Contact us:

Rural Communities Fund – countryside access application guidance

Ensure you answer all the questions fully and provide all the information requested to avoid any delays in processing your application.

NOTE: To apply electronically, you must have a valid email address.

Questions 1–6: Contact details for your organisation

This is the main organisation that would be responsible for the grant.

Question 1: Department/Grant Programme

Department: Select - Culture, Communities and Business Services (CCBS)

Grant Stream: Select: - Rural Communities Fund

Questions 7–10: Your project

Question 7: Title of project or service

Enter the name of your business/shop.

Question 8a: Summary of your project

Use this section to briefly describe:

  • What you would like to do - what is the work, why do you want to do it (e.g. to install a kitchen area to diversify your business)?  

  • Where the project will take place – you must include the Parish/Village, the population and number of households in the village and whether your shop/enterprise is the only one of its kind in the village.  

Question 8b: Details of your project

Give full details of the project and tell us what the funding will pay for. This should include:

  • A description of the new activity /project

  • A summary of the services/activities you currently provide

  • Who will benefit from the new activity/project

  • How will the project boost sales

  • How will you deliver the proposed activity/project: 
    - Three comparable quotes for all aspects of the work must be provided. Use this section to tell us which is your preferred quote and why.

  • When do you want the new or improved service to start

Question 8c: Project outcomes

This is an opportunity to describe what you expect to achieve from the new or improved service and how it will benefit the village and surrounding area (e.g. job creation, increase profits, bring in more customers).

If you have any evidence to support your application, demonstrating the need for the project, tell us about it here.

Question 8d: How you involved service users in the development of your project

Use this section to tell us:

  • About any customer suggestions and/or the results of any customer surveys.

  • What evidence you have from local people that your project is supported. All applicants are required to submit a letter of support from the Parish Council.

Question 9: Project dates and frequency

Is your project/service/activity ongoing? Select ‘No’

Provide the estimated start and finish dates for your project under ‘date from and date to’.

State ‘Not applicable’ in all other boxes.

Note: we do not fund retrospectively so the start date for your project must be in the future.

Questions 11–15: Finance

Question 11: Financial reserves

Select "No".

Question 12: Cost detail

List the full costs of your project (both including and excluding VAT).

Three quotes must be obtained to support each item/area of work proposed in your application.You must submit copies of the quotes and provide a summary in the Supporting Information Form.

Most of your project costs will be capital costs (e.g. purchasing equipment or building costs) but you may apply for up to £1,000 towards revenue costs to support the project (e.g. marketing/promotion/website development).

Question 13: Income

Provide information on all sources of funding for your project and indicate whether it has been confirmed or if not confirmed the date the decision is expected.

Question 14a: Project finance summary

A summary of your project income and expenditure will be automatically calculated using your responses to questions 12 and 13 (online application form only). You will need to enter the amount of grant funding you are requesting, which must not be higher than the calculated shortfall.

Question 14b: How the project will be sustainable

Confirm how you plan to manage the interests of the project in the longer term, including who will manage, run and monitor the new or improved services.

Questions 16–20: General questions and documentation

Question 18: Documentation

Leave this section blank. The Supporting Information Form and supporting documents must be submitted by email to

Question 20: Equalities

Address a-d as best you can. We are not looking for comprehensive policies – just some bullet points, examples of things which may be relevant to include are:

  • We have an equality and diversity policy. We ensure our staff receive equalities and diversity training. We actively encourage and support all sectors of the community including those having protected characteristics to take part in this project.

  • We have an open and transparent recruitment and promotion policy.

  • The organisation’s culture fully embraces diversity.

  • Our constitution/ this project focuses on fostering good community relations across all sectors of society by...

  • This project will advance equality of opportunity for everyone by…

Supporting documentation

All applicants must submit the following to support their application:

  • A completed Supporting Information Form

  • A letter of support from the Parish Council

  • A letter confirming the freeholders’ consent and a copy of the lease (if property is leasehold)

  • Copies of all planning permission and/or any other specific permissions

  • Copies of three quotes to support the each item/area of work proposed

  • A set of financial accounts for the last three years

Download the Supporting Information Form.

Monitoring Information

This information will help us to plan and fund areas of work where there are significant gaps and needs. If you need to collect this information from your staff or service users then it is important that you give them a choice as to whether they choose to give this personal information.

Please read our terms and conditions before applying.

Applications should be submitted electronically. If you are unable to do this please complete the pdf form below and send it to the relevant grant department.

Rural communities fund for retailers form for grants £1000 and under
Rural communities fund for retailers form for grants over £1000