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Council to Lead Investment of £3.2 million in Rural Development
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Council to Lead Investment of £3.2 million in Rural Development

January 27, 2016

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council has built on its strong track record of investment in the local rural economy by assisting the Lagan Rural Partnership Local Action Group to finalise a strategy to deliver a new £3.2 million rural grant scheme under Priority 6 of the NI Rural Development Programme 2014 – 2020.

Lagan Rural Partnership is a body consisting of local elected representatives and social partners from the rural business and community sector tasked with delivery of the new programme in the rural areas of Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council and Belfast City Council.

The new grant scheme will build on previous programme investment of £8.7 million between 2009 and 2015 which supported 151 projects across a number of measures focused on improving business potential and social impact.  This significant sum of money created 28 new rural businesses, helped expand 45 existing businesses, supported 117 new rural jobs and also provided investment in rural tourism, rural infrastructure and village renewal schemes.

Councillor Margaret Tolerton has recently been appointed as Chairman of Lagan Rural Partnership and Drew Nelson has been appointed the Vice-Chairman.  In their new roles they visited local steel fabrication and engineering company, Fabrite Engineering Ltd, which received funding from the previous programme to expand its operations and create five new jobs.

Councillor Margaret Tolerton, speaking about the new grants programme, said: “I am delighted that Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council will be taking the lead in the delivery of this new programme on behalf of Lagan Rural Partnership; and I am excited about the potential for the scheme to make a positive impact on our local rural economy and the quality of life for our rural residents.

“This investment of £3.2 million will provide grants of up to £30,000 for new rural businesses, grants of up to £50,000 for existing rural businesses and additional grants of up to £50,000 for projects that will deliver innovative community service improvements. There will also be grants allocated across the two council areas to deliver village renewal schemes.”

The new Local Action Group strategy outlines priority areas of investment based on a comprehensive needs analysis and consultation with rural communities across both Council areas. The strategy also links with both Council’s emerging Community Plans.

It is envisaged that the first call for applications under the new programme will be released in March and will target existing rural micro and small businesses (with less than 50 employees). Further application calls for community service delivery schemes and village renewal schemes will be released in the summer.

Potential applicants are advised to contact Padraic Murphy, Rural Development Manager for further details about the programme on 028 9250 9489 or email: padraic.murphy@lisburncastlereagh.gov.uk