New funding opportunity available for Small Settlements

October 4, 2022

Lisburn & Castlereagh City Council (LCCC) is delighted to announce the release of the Rural Investment Fund (RIF) to support new businesses looking to open within a Small Settlement.

This fund has been designed to stimulate the rural economy by attracting new businesses into currently vacant properties or to help existing businesses make use of a currently unused space within their premises. Funding is available up to a maximum of £30,000 (ex VAT) per business with approximately £300,000 total funding allocated to the scheme.

The Covid Recovery Small Settlements Regeneration Programme is funded through Department for Communities, Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs and Department for Infrastructure.

Alderman Allan Ewart MBE, Chair LCCC’s Development Committee, said: “I am delighted the council has the opportunity through this funded programme to launch the Rural Investment Fund. It offers a fantastic opportunity for entrepreneurs to move forward with their business ideas and access funding to offset capital costs to open, expand or repurpose their existing premises.

By filling vacant premises we hope to bring renewed vitality to these areas and attract further investment. In turn this will generate future growth and prosperity in our council area.

If you’re interested, I urge you to get in touch with the council’s regeneration team who will support you throughout the process.”

Communities Minister, Deirdre Hargey commented, “My Department introduced the Covid Recovery Small Settlements Regeneration Programme to address long standing issues such as rural poverty, isolation and access to services in our smaller settlements. Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council has received over £2m funding and it is hoped that initiatives such as the Rural Investment Fund will help tackle dereliction and encourage new businesses into the small settlements making these areas more attractive for business owners, shoppers and visitors alike.”

DAERA Minister Edwin Poots MLA said, “This is a great opportunity for businesses owners to invest in a rural business and make the best use of the vacant properties in the rural towns and villages in the Lisburn and Castlereagh City council area and through that investment create much needed rural jobs.”

Infrastructure Minister John O’Dowd said, “The Covid Recovery Small Settlements Regeneration Programme is a good example of inter Departmental working to deliver real change in how people live and work.  I am delighted that my Department has contributed to this programme which supports initiatives on the ground to aid recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s through interventions such as the Rural Investment Fund that this programme will support small communities as they emerge from the after effects of the pandemic.”

An information workshop has been scheduled for Thursday 13th October 2022 at 6.00pm via Zoom. Please email if you would like to attend.

Interested parties should submit an Expression of Interest before the closing date of Monday 31st October 2022. Eligible submissions will be invited to complete a full application in due course.

This grant scheme is part of a wider COVID-19 Recovery Small Settlement Regeneration Programme funded by three government departments.

Further information on the scheme is available on the council website at