Rural businesses look to receive support after more than £900,000 in funding has been approved for Torridge District Council by UK government.
The British Government have approved spending plans submitted by Torridge Councillors for the district's allocation of £996k under the Rural England Prosperity Fund administered through the Department for the Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra).
The fund supports the aims of the government's Levelling Up White Paper and Future Farming Programme designed to fund capital projects for small businesses and community infrastructure. The ambition for the spending is to help to improve productivity and strengthen the rural economy and rural communities.
The narrower focus for the fund will be to support new and existing rural businesses to develop new products and facilities that will be of wider benefit to the local economy. Another intention is to support new and improved community infrastructure, providing essential community services and assets for local people and businesses to benefit the local economy.
Councillors voted for the majority of the funding, £650k, to be allocated to a new LEADER fund to be administered by the council’s economic regeneration partners North Devon+. Under this total there will be two ring fenced pots, £100k for leisure and infrastructure and £50k for culture projects leaving £500k for other bids. Two community infrastructure projects are also being funded on top of this, with £150k earmarked for Victoria Park play area improvements in Bideford and £195k for the rejuvenation of the Grade II* listed Great Torrington Market Hall.
The LEADER style grant funding through North Devon+ will focus on helping businesses with grants for improving productivity, farm diversification, extending the tourist season, projects dealing with deprivation, and improving sustainability. These will also focus on green energy, higher skilled and better paid jobs and strengthening the delivery of culture, leisure and wellbeing. The finalised grants scheme will make varying amounts available to businesses up to a nominal £25k maximum per project and will be allocated over the next two years through to 2025.
Steve Hearse, Chief Executive of Torridge District Council said:“Businesses across Torridge are still struggling and looking for ways that they can improve their prospects or diversify into new markets, which includes our important farming community. With this in mind it’s appropriate that the majority of this funding will be used to help Torridge businesses towards improved prosperity and perhaps also a renewed focus on creating a greener approach to how they operate. The fund will also support infrastructure projects in our towns and communities, and act as a catalyst to further rejuvenation and investment.
"With the funding only just announced a precise launch date and details for the application process will be made available shortly”