Invitation for Expressions of interest to the small settlements grant schemes for businesses
We have developed three grant schemes which enable businesses located within Small Settlements* the opportunity to apply for a grant towards capital costs for interior and exterior improvements.
These grants are funded through the COVID Recovery Small Settlements Regeneration Programme.
*Small settlements are defined as areas with a population of between 1,000 and 4,999. These include; Aghalee, Annahilt, Ballinderry, Dromara, Drumbeg, Glenavy, Hillsborough, Maghaberry, Milltown, Moira and Moneyreagh.
These grant schemes are detailed below. You can view more information on each grant by clicking the link on the title below:
- Rural Investment Fund: assists new businesses wishing to renovate a vacant property; or an existing business planning to diversify their current offer through repurposing an unused area within their premises.
- Heritage Shopfront Scheme: supports businesses located within Hillsborough or Moira, whose shop fronts currently sit outside of planning regulations, from a heritage perspective, and helps businesses to sympathetically repair or replace their shop front façade and signage in order to conform to the conservation guidelines. The aim of the scheme is to create a more pleasing environment by improving heritage shop fronts, resulting in wider benefits for the public realm and civic pride.
- Rural Shopfront Scheme: supports businesses located in small settlements (excluding Moira and Hillsborough) to create a more pleasing environment by improving shop fronts to benefit the business and also resulting in wider benefits for the rural village and increasing civic pride.
Applications to each scheme will be assessed in the 3 stages as follows:
Stage 1 – Expression of interest
Interested businesses should submit an expression of interest, including the estimated costs of undertaking the works. If the submission meets the objectives of the scheme they will be invited to submit an application.
The following basic eligibility criteria applies and will be assessed on a pass/fail basis as part of the evaluation process:
a) The property must be classed as located within a small settlement as shown on this link.
b) The business must either own the property or have a minimum of three years remaining on their lease.
c) For applications to the Rural Investment Fund, the property must either be vacant and being taken on by a new business, or be an existing business wishing to repurpose an unused area in their current business premises.
The deadline for all Expressions of interest is 5pm on Friday 22nd March 2024.
Stage 2 – Application
Expressions of interest which are assessed as meeting all the eligibility criteria will be invited to submit an application to the relevant scheme. In order to progress to this stage, the applicant will be required to provide further details of the proposed works.
This will include:
a) Confirmation of engagement with competent architect, if required (Contact details must be provided)
b) Written quotations for proposed works demonstrating value for money has been achieved (see procurement section for details)
c) Written confirmation from the local planning department that outlines all necessary statutory consents which will be required to carry out your project (including but not limited to: planning permission, advertising consent, listed building consent, building control consent, change of use etc.)
d) Confirmation that 20% match funding in place with the applicant
e) Evidence of security of tenure and written consent from property owner
f) For the Rural Investment Fund, an outline project plan providing detailed information about the project/concept design (please provide images / drawings separately)
Deadline for applications is 5pm on Friday 19th April 2024.
Stage 3 – Letter of Offer
When the Stage 2 application process closes, council will be in a position to confirm the grant funding level that will be offered.
This will be based on the quotations submitted at Stage 2 and funding offered as a percentage of the total net costs as detailed in the criteria for each grant. This can be viewed on the relevant links below:
Please note the grant funding will be for works only excluding VAT and that professional and statutory fees are not funded through this scheme.
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 (if this is required for your work).
For the Rural Investment Fund, letters of offer may also be contingent on the provision of architectural drawings of the proposed works which have been submitted to planning. Applicants will be advised if this is required. 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.
Final deadline for planning submission & reference number is 5pm on Friday 17th May 2024.
If invited to submit a full application, as per Stage 2 of the process outlined above, applicants must provide valid quotations for each element of the works when submitting their application which demonstrates value for money has been sought.
The table below outlines the number of quotations that are required. A letter of offer will not be issued until all valid quotations have been received. If you are having difficulty obtaining quotations, please contact the team and we can advise accordingly.
We understand that there may be slight variances between quotations and final invoices due to timing and the nature of the proposed works. Invoices must be paid and copies submitted to us before the grant can be paid.
|Expenditure for items/activity
|No. of quotations
|Up to £5,000
|3 written quotations from separate suppliers must be provided with your application (e.g. screenshots from supplier website or an email from supplier)
|£5,001 - £30,000
|4 written quotations from separate suppliers must be provided with your application (e.g. screenshots from supplier website or an email from supplier)
If invited to submit a full application, as per Stage 2 of the process outlined above, it is the applicant’s responsibility to secure and provide evidence of all necessary statutory consents and to ensure legal compliance with all approvals.
A ‘Certificate of Lawful use or Development’ may be necessary to prove that planning consent is not required if there is any uncertainty.
All statutory and legal consents must be in place before the grant payment can be made.
Please see below contact details for the relevant statutory services:
Phone: 028 9244 7300
Phone: 028 9244 7300
Phone: 028 9244 7300
Food premises registration (where applicable) can be done online using this link.
If a business receiving grant funding is later held to account for any breaches relating to those improvements, the funding can be held back or, if has already been paid, then it may be claimed back from the recipient.