“While there has been criticism of the government’s £177m Growth Programme, it shouldn’t be discounted if you are planning to develop a rural outdoor hospitality business in the next five years,” says Annie Hunter, a senior consultant at How2 Business Solutions.
Last month Farmers Weekly stated that only two applications had been reported by the programme since its launch in 2015, as part of the Rural Development Programme fund, to support projects in areas that created jobs and growth in rural economies.
“While only two projects have been approved at the time of writing, and there being a potential nine month time lag from initial outline application to, hopefully, a final offer, the Rural Payments Agency has stated that others are in progress, with over 400 initial applications received since the scheme’s launch and 200 projects invited to submit full applications,” Hunter explains.
“The grants are managed by The Rural Payments Agency (RPA), working with Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs). The RPA publishes calls for applications for grants in specific LEP areas. Each call will reflect the priorities set by the LEP and will state what types of grants are open and the application dates. Currently there are grants available for business development and small scale tourism infrastructure, as well as tourism cooperation and food processing.”