Rural Shop Front Scheme

– 1. The Opportunity
– 2. Scheme Objective
– 3. Application Process
– 4. The Grant
– 5. Who can apply?
– 6. Who cannot apply?
– 7. What can be funded?
– 8. What cannot be funded?
– 9. Statutory Consents
– 10. Apply Now

1. The Opportunity

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has developed a Rural Shop Front Scheme funded through the COVID Recovery Small Settlements Regeneration Programme. The Scheme offers businesses situated within Small Settlements*, the opportunity to apply for a grant to improve their shop frontage.

*Small Settlements are defined as areas with a population of between 1,000 and 4,999. These include; Aghalee, Annahilt, Dromara, Drumbeg, Glenavy, Upper and Lower Ballinderry, Maghaberry, Milltown and Moneyreagh.

Please note: Royal Hillsborough and Moira have been excluded from this scheme after already being offered the opportunity to apply through the Heritage Shop Front Scheme which is being delivered as part of the overall programme.

2. Scheme Objective

The aim of the scheme is to create a more pleasing environment by improving shop fronts, resulting in wider benefits for the rural village and increasing civic pride.

The appearance of shop fronts has a considerable influence on the overall character of a place. They are an essential element not only of the buildings in which they are set but also of the wider streetscape. A shop front that has been designed with respect given to the architecture of the building and character of the surrounding area can add charm and vitality, making it attractive to shoppers and visitors alike.

3. Application Process

Stage 1 – Expression of Interest

Please see below a timeline for the application process. Submissions will be processed as and when received. Therefore, the sooner you submit the required information the quicker you will move through the process.

Final Deadline for Expressions of Interest – Wednesday, 8th March 2023 at 5pm

Stage 2 – Application

In order to progress this stage, the applicant will be required to provide further details of the proposed works.

Full application will include the provision of:

  • Confirmation of engagement with competent architect. Contact details must be provided.
  • 3 written quotations for proposed works demonstrating value for money has been achieved.
  • Written consent from property owner and Evidence of security of tenure (at least 3 years)

If your application is successful, confirmation will be sent via email, detailing the amount of grant you are eligible for and match funding required. Your letter of offer will be issued to you upon receipt of your planning reference number.

Final Deadline for Applications – Wednesday, 26th April at 5pm

Stage 3 – Application

A letter of offer will be provided on provision of the following provided via email:

Architectural drawings of the proposed shop front and signage submitted to planning and planning reference number/s provided. Drawings should be shown to scale e.g. 1:100. To ensure clarity of shop front detail, include elevation drawings at a scale of 1:20 and section drawings at 1:10 as appropriate.

Final Deadline for Planning Submission & Reference Number – Wednesday, 31st May 2023 at 5pm

We understand that this process can be lengthy so please allow for time to consult with planning and provide final drawings in order to secure planning approval.

4. The Grant

This grant will be offered to small business owners with properties within the eligible areas, to enhance the appearance and condition of their shop fronts and signage, making the area a more attractive place for both occupiers and visitors.

Successful applicants will receive a grant of up to 80% - maximum £12,500 (ex VAT).

You must demonstrate your contribution of a minimum 20% of the overall costs (ex VAT) has been paid.

In order to receive the maximum grant, your certified paid invoices must equate to at least £15,625. (ex VAT).

For example;

  • Total project spend - £15,625 – Grant - £12,500 (ex VAT).
  • Total project spend - £12,500 – Grant - £10,000 (ex VAT).

Following the Expression of Interest stage, the Council will evaluate the submissions and invite successful applicants to submit an application.

When the Stage 2 - Application Process closes, council will be in a position to estimate the grant funding level that will be offered. This will be based on the quotations submitted at Stage 2.

Funding will be offered on a percentage of the total costs of the work. This will be determined by the number of applications received. The funding amount will be clearly detailed in the letter of offer.

Please note the grant funding will be for works only excluding VAT. Professional and statutory fees are not funded through this scheme.

It is expected there will be a high demand for the funding and regrettably the Council will only be able to support a proportion of the expressions of interest received. Funding will be assessed and awarded on first come first served basis.

Please be advised that if your business was to close down or move within 3 years of the grant being allocated, the council will be obliged to clawback the grant allocation chargeable at 2% above the prevailing base rate of Barclays Bank. Any sums are repayable to Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council under the provisions of the Letter of Offer and Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council shall be entitled to recover from the Business the cost to Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council of establishing the Businesses repayment liability and in recovering the sums due.

5. Who can apply?

The Rural Shop Front Scheme is open to all freehold owners and lease-holders with at least three years remaining on their lease and tenants of premises with commercial shop-frontage facing the street within the eligible Small Settlements identified in the Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council area. Tenants must have the building owners' prior approval.

Commercial premises include:

  • Retail shops;
  • Hair and Beauty Salons;
  • Hospitality e.g. restaurants, cafes and food takeaways;
  • Financial and Professional Services e.g. banks, solicitors etc.
  • Buildings that are being used for a community service.

6. Who cannot apply?

In general, the following will not be eligible to apply for funding:

  • Businesses who are not situated within the eligible areas identified
  • Sports Clubs
  • Public Buildings
  • Political Organisations
  • Multiples

7. What can be funded?

Funding is available for the repair and replacement (where appropriate) of:

  • Shop fronts (requiring full planning consent)
  • Signage (requiring advertising consent)
  • Lighting (may require advertising consent)
  • Redecoration (may require full planning consent)
  • Removal of wires etc.
  • Removal of inappropriate shutters or awnings

Shop fronts and signs that are currently not complying with planning guidelines are encouraged to apply.

8. What cannot be funded?

In general, the following will not be eligible for funding:

  • Any costs or projects which are clearly another statutory agency’s responsibility or costs that can be claimed back from elsewhere e.g. VAT cannot be funded
  • Costs incurred prior to a letter of offer from Council (retrospective funding)
  • Professional and statutory fees including planning consents, building control and legal fees or any costs incurred in obtaining quotes in preparation of applications
  • Loan Repayments
  • Consultancy fees
  • Costs towards ongoing running costs/ cash/flow (e.g. electricity, rent, rates, insurance etc.)
  • Costs towards banking charges and / or repayment of debt.
  • Costs which are not clearly linked to the project
  • Costs that are assessed as poor value for money, or that are purchased not following Council procurement guidelines
  • Costs that are already covered by other funding or income sources
  • Costs which are deemed excessive by Council’s QS advisor
  • Cash expenditure will not be eligible for refund from Council
  • Applications received after the closing date specified in the promotional literature
  • Salary costs will not be funded
  • Alcohol, gratuities, gifts and prizes will not be funded
  • Purchase of stock for general trading purposes
  • Costs relating to transportation/Vehicles

Council reserves the right to reject late applications.

9. Statutory Consents

Fully consider if your proposal will require the following:

  • Full Planning Permission – for the replacement or alteration of any shop front.
  • Advertising Consent – for the replacement or alteration of any sign.
  • Listed Building Consent – where the property concerned is a listed building.

It is the applicant’s responsibility to ascertain if any statutory consents are required, the relevant applications are made and to ensure that all approvals are legally complied with. A ‘Certificate of Lawful use or Development’ may be requested to prove that planning consent is not required if there is any uncertainty.

Applicants are encouraged to submit all necessary statutory consents at the earliest convenience.

Please see below contact details for the relevant statutory departments:

Telephone: 028 9244 7300

Building Control
Telephone: 028 9244 7300

For further details, please refer to the accompanying ‘Shop Fronts & Signage in Conservation Areas – Design Guidance Leaflet’.

10. Apply now

To apply for the grant, please complete and return the Stage 1 - Expression of Interest form:

Download the Expression of Interest form