The European Grant Programme, LEADER, is offering grants to small businesses, community groups, local authorities, charities or organisations promoting tourism.
Councillor Mel Kendal, Executive Member for Economic Development at Hampshire County Council said: “Support is available for a wide diversity of projects, so long as they will attract visitors to the local area. The LEADER programme can offer grant aid to shops or visitor centres, for signage or interpretation boards. It can also fund cycle ways and paths which will connect people to green spaces, or help to develop culture, leisure, heritage, and visitor activities or attractions and the associated marketing of these”.
Applicants can apply for between £10,000 and £50,000 towards their costs, which could include anything from heritage events and festivals to supporting cafes, restaurants and accommodation which will benefit local tourism.
One organisation which has benefitted from a LEADER grant to boost tourism in the past is Miller’s Ark Farm, near Hook, which specialises in breeding a wide variety of animals. Miller’s Ark Farm was able to use funding to boost on-site services for visitors, installing a new car park so more people could attend open days and a little train to carry visitors from the car park to the farm.
Liz Miller, who manages the business which she established in 1991 said, “LEADER has enabled us to encourage more visitors. This in turn provides an opportunity to reach more people and teach about rural life and farming. We also encourage those with disabilities to visit, and many visitors have told me how much pleasure the visit has given them”.
To meet the criteria for funding, organisations need to be located within the Loddon and Test Valley areas, with plans for a project that will boost the local economy.
To find out whether your organisation is eligible, please contact Emily Preston at Hampshire County Council for further information at firstname.lastname@example.org
The LEADER programme uses money from the European Union, through the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE), to help benefit the countryside and rural lifestyles by developing a rural economy, boosting job creation and encouraging communities to come together.
Further information about the LEADER programme is available at: http://ruralfunding.co.uk/about/leader-programme/