Small grants scheme

Funding for projects to improve or promote countryside access and rights of way

Who can apply
  • Parish or town councils
  • Landowners
  • Other organisations (e.g. charities, volunteer/community groups) may apply for interpretation to promote countryside access (e.g. mapboards, leaflets)
If you apply as a parish or town council, you will be carrying out improvements under your own legal powers to maintain rights of way (Highways Act 1980) – these powers apply to footpaths, bridleways and restricted byways but do not apply to byways open to all traffic. Powers to provide benches on or at the side of public paths are given under the Parish Councils Act 1957.
What is funded

All projects must meet the grant eligibility and criteria. Funding is for projects that improve or promote countryside access. Priority is given to practical improvements to rights of way and open access land.

Typical projects include:

  • path surfacing e.g. improving drainage, clearing vegetation and applying a new surface material
  • replacing stiles with gates to improve access for disabled users, those with limited mobility and users with pushchairs and young children
  • installation of a boardwalk or bridge across a boggy area, ditch or stream
  • installing benches
  • mapboards and leaflets showing rights of way, access areas and circular routes for walking, cycling and riding in your local area

How communities have used their funding

What is not funded

The scheme does not fund: 

  • fencing
  • works for nature conservation
  • works on recreation grounds, unless the land is also recorded as a right of way or open access land
  • repairing or replacing stiles (although applications to replace stiles with gates are encouraged)
  • work to paved/tarmaced paths
  • picnic benches
  • dog bins
  • research
  • projects that are underway or already completed

To be successful, applications must:

  • demonstrate that the project meets the grant scheme priorities
  • provide evidence that the parish/town council and landowner (if not the applicant) both support the project
  • projects must be discussed with the local Countryside Access Officer before making an application. Contact the Small Grants Team to arrange a site visit.
  • for practical improvements to rights of way and open access land, include a specification that complies with the Countryside Service standard specifications as a minimum requirement.

If the work is to be done by volunteers, the applicant must be confident they have the skills to do the work and that they are appropriately supervised. The applicant must also ensure the volunteers are covered by employers liability insurance and public liability insurance.

If the work is to be done by a contractor, quotes must be provided (at least two for projects over £2,000). The applicant will be responsible for supervising the work and ensuring that it is carried out to a suitable standard. The applicant must also ensure the contractor has adequate employers liability insurance and public liability insurance.

If carrying out the work as the landowner, the applicant must take out and maintain adequate employers liability insurance and public liability insurance.

We may refer to grants offered, either generally or for specific projects, in publicity material and/or by erecting temporary signs on site. It is assumed that applicants agree with this practice.

All successful applicants will be required to provide appropriate reporting and/or monitoring for their project.

Funding criteria

Up to 50% of the total project cost is available, typically up to a total grant of £5,000.

Up to 75% of the total project cost is available for projects in the New Forest, due to an additional 25% funding from the New Forest National Park Authority.

The remaining contribution can come from any non-Hampshire County Council source such as Parish Council funds, landfill tax or local businesses.

Volunteer labour (excluding Community Service Payback Teams) and in-kind contributions from landowners can be used to contribute towards match funding of the total cost. The total project cost is made up of expenditure (e.g. materials, tools, contractors) and the value of volunteer or landowner in-kind contributions.

Volunteer labour should be calculated at no more than £52/person/day (i.e. £6.50/person/hour). No more than 25% of the total project cost can be claimed as volunteer contributions. Use the volunteer labour calculator to help work out volunteer contributions for your project.

Landowners may offer to complete the work themselves (e.g. resurfacing, installing gates), using their own staff and equipment. If they are not charging for this service as a contractor, it can be deemed an in-kind contribution. No more than 50% of the total project cost can be claimed as an in-kind contribution (a breakdown of the contribution must be provided on the application form).

When to apply
  • Next application deadline
  • 23 October 2017
  • Decision day 7 November 2017, work to take place November 2017 to March 2018
Deadline for applications Decision date Period of activity
24 April 2017 9 May 2017 May 2017 to March 2018
24 July 2017 8 August 2017 August 2017 to March 2018
23 October 2017 7 November 2017 November 2017 to March 2018
22 January 2018 6 February 2018 February 2018 March 2018
How to apply

Read all the information above before making an application.

Download an application form

  • Answer all questions and follow all instructions provided.
  • Supporting information can be attached.

Completed applications must be submitted no later than 4pm on the application deadline.

Send your completed applications to

  • Applications will be assessed on the decision date
  • We will let you know the outcome by email within two weeks of the decision date
  • If successful, you will be sent formal grant documents (offer letter and terms and conditions document) within four weeks of the decision date
  • Signed terms and conditions documents must be returned to Hampshire County Council before work can commence
  • Funding will be released in full on receipt of the signed terms and conditions document by Hampshire County Council
  • The case officer assigned to the project will contact you to check progress. You should also contact the case officer for advice as necessary
  • When work is complete, you must submit the evaluation form provided along with supporting documents (e.g. invoices, photos)
  • The case officer will arrange a final site visit (where applicable) to assess the work and ensure it has been completed in accordance with the terms and conditions
  • If the work is not completed to a satisfactory standard your case officer will discuss any changes with you and agree a period of time to get the work done