Purpose of the fund

The Rural Shopfront Scheme aims to support businesses located in Small Settlements* 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.

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.

*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

Allocation of funding

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).

Should this grant scheme be oversubscribed, the amount awarded may have to be reduced to ensure the maximum number of businesses benefit from this initiative.

Award of the grant will be at our discretion. The purpose of the scheme is to encourage businesses located within conservation areas to update shopfronts in order to conform to conservation guidelines, and enhance the village. We will therefore have the ultimate decision in determining which applications are eligible.

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 and Castlereagh area.

Tenants must have the building owners' prior approval.

Commercial premises include (but are not limited to): 

  • 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

Who cannot apply?

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

  • businesses which are situated within the village boundary of Royal Hillsborough or Moira as these businesses are eligible for the heritage shopfront scheme
  • sports clubs
  • public buildings
  • political organisations
  • multiples

What can be funded?

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

  • shopfronts (requiring full planning permission)
  • signage (requiring advertising consent)
  • lighting (may require full planning permission)
  • redecoration (may require listed building consent)
  • removal of wires etc.
  • removal of inappropriate shutters or awnings

Shopfronts and signs that are currently not yet in compliance with planning guidance are encouraged to apply.

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 us (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 have not followed the scheme guidance
  • costs that are already covered by other funding or income sources
  • costs which are deemed excessive by our QS advisor
  • cash expenditure will not be eligible for refund from us
  • 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

We reserve the right to reject late applications.