There have been various seminars taking place around Cumbria recently to increase the awareness of new funding available for rural development.

Oglethorpes attended a recent seminar presented by John Metcalf from Rural Futures (NW) Ltd. They are rural planning specialists offering a free service in Cumbria to assist clients with the process of applying for this funding and planning. This includes farm business support, programme appraisal, drawing down the grant funding, and a site visit and report. There is up to 12 hours of free support available.

The current planning overview involves the National Planning Policy Framework 2012, which focuses on 3 main elements of planning; the economic role, the social role and the environmental role. Within the framework there is an emphasis on supporting the rural economy, promoting sustainable transport, and safeguarding jobs.

In Cumbria you have 2 local planning authorities – South Lakeland District Council and the Lake District National Park which you need to apply to depending on the location of the proposed development.

Rural Futures can help people clarify their ideas before seeing a planning consultant or architect. They advise that “Planning Policy is now critical…You should plan well in advance, and don’t underestimate the time and costs involved”.

The funding for the scheme stems from the Rural Development Plan England, EU funding via DEFRA and then via Local Action Groups.

The new scheme follows the assumptions that the planning is to stimulate job growth and job protection; that it is mainly capital funding (the scheme usually pay between 30 – 50% of the planning/development costs); and the scheme can only be used if there is no other relevant funding applicable. The funding available is retrospective i.e you only receive the money after the planning has been implemented and all planing conditions met and confirmed by the local authority.

If you are interested, the process is simple – get in touch! You then submit an application to the Local Action Group including your business plan, cash flow, development plans, reasons why you need the money. The documentation then receives a technical appraisal by the local action group, you receive their decision, followed hopefully by a funding offer!