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01 December 2015

LEP and European Funding Available for Rural Dorset - find out more at upcoming events




 The Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership and partner organisations are coming together to run two workshop events for rural businesses.  To be held on the 9th of December and will aim to provide an overview of funding schemes that are currently open, or are soon to open in Dorset. 

The 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investments Fund (ESIF) Growth Programme and LEADER, can support projects with individual grants that range from £5,000 to approximately£140,000, whilst the Dorset LEP’s £9.4 million Growing Places Fund can provide revolving loans for capital expenditure. 

Dorset LEP Board member and Rural Champion, James Weld, said:


“These are fantastic opportunities for a wide variety of rural businesses to capitalise on. Between them, the schemes will deliver £6 million of support to drive rural economic growth and create more jobs for Dorset. This, along with other local business support and funding initiatives like the £9.4 million Growing Places Fund, ensure that Dorset is alive with opportunities for rural businesses to grow and develop to strengthen the Dorset economy.”

The first event will be held near Evershot at the George Albert Hotel, between 9.45 am - 12 pm. The second will be held later that afternoon in North Dorset at The Hub in Verwood between 4.45 – 7pm. A range of advisors from business support organisations and funding programmes will be available at both venues, to discuss prospective project ideas and guide businesses through the application process.




Breakdown of programmes and Calls for projects – what you need to know. 

Both programmes are funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), and form part of a national funding package which also includes support for farmers, foresters and landowners from the Countryside Productivity and Countryside Stewardship schemes. The project and / or its beneficiaries must be based in a rural area as defined by Department for Environment Food & Rural Affairs (Defra). Find out if your project is eligible at or call James Roberts at Dorset LEADER 01305 225525.

The Growth Programme is now open and applications are welcomed from applications from new and existing SMEs, farm businesses seeking to diversify, landowners and communities within the rural Dorset LEP area. £800,000 is now available and further calls for applications will be announced from 2016 to 2020. Grants range from £35,000 up to €200,000 (approximately £140,000) depending on state aid regulations.

The Dorset Tourism Call: 

This call is looking to drive investments that will improve and expand the tourism offer in rural Dorset. The aim is to attract additional day and overnight visitors that stay longer and spend more in the local area, thus driving forward local economic growth. A total fund of £300,000 is available for projects to bid for. 

The Dorset Business Support Call: 
This call is specifically aimed at applicants from new and existing micro and small sized enterprises in rural areas of Dorset. Grants are available for capital investment to drive business growth and job creation. Farm businesses, seeking to diversify into non-agricultural activities are also welcomed to apply for this call. A total of £500,000 is available for applicants to bid for.

The deadline outline application window for these calls is Friday 8 January 2016 at 5pm. A full breakdown of each call can be found at the website or this link:[]=open  

Applicants can contact the Rural Payments Agency helpline for further information 0300 0200 301.

Future Dorset Growth Programme calls will also be promoted at 


How Dorset LEADER works:

LEADER is a unique Programme – local people make the decisions about what and where European funding for rural communities would make the most difference. It is a well-established method of providing Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) funding at the local level. Funding should be used to support projects which create jobs, increase productivity and benefit the wider rural economy.

In Dorset grants are awarded by one of two LEADER Local Action Groups whose principal role is to provide rural communities with a voice in local democracy, together with access to funding for projects which support their local development strategies (LDS). Membership of the Local Action Group is open to everyone who has an interest in their rural community.

The LEADER programme is delivered by two LEADER Local Action Groups in Dorset, which have also received approximately £3 million from EAFRD to support projects that benefit the rural economy. 
Southern Dorset and Northern Dorset LAGs will soon open for applications for projects based in one of the Local Action Group areas. Grants ranging from £5,000 to approximately £140,000 are expected to be available until 2019 or 2020. 

The project must support one of the national LEADER priorities: Increasing farm productivity, support for small & micro enterprises, boosting rural tourism, providing rural services, providing cultural & heritage activity and increasing forestry productivity. Each community – led Local Action Group has also identified its own local priorities which applicants should also seek to address. For further information about who and what the LAGs fund and how and when to apply see or call James Roberts 01305 225525.

How the Growing Places Fund works:

The Dorset LEP Growing Places Fund has been provided with £9.4m from central government as a revolving loan scheme, to support major capital investment and regeneration in Dorset.

The Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership is committed to using the Growing Places Fund to generate economic activity in the short term by addressing immediate infrastructure and site constraints which promote the delivery of jobs and housing. 

The fund can only be used for capital expenditure for both rural and urban businesses and normally has a maximum loan term of 5 years. It may be used by businesses which have viable projects, including security that can deliver economic growth - even if the business is unable to access alternative funding mechanisms.

Interested parties should submit an Expression of Interest form which can be found on the Dorset LEP website here.



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