Spending Plan for £996k Government Rural Prosperity Fund finalised for submission
Torridge Councillors have voted to approve outline plans for the allocation of £996k the council is due to receive under an allocation from central governments Rural Prosperity Fund in April 2023. The fund supports the aims of the government's Levelling Up White Paper and Future Farming Programme designed to fund capital projects for small businesses and community infrastructure. The ambition for the funding is to help to improve productivity and strengthen the rural economy and rural communities.
The deadline for the council's submission on its plans for utilising the funding is the end of November. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) who are distributing the fund on behalf of the government are expected to advise councils on the outcomes of their submissions in January 2023. The narrower focus for the fund is to support new and existing rural businesses to develop new products and facilities that will be of wider benefit to the local economy. Another intention is to support new and improved community infrastructure, providing essential community services and assets for local people and businesses to benefit the local economy.
Councillors voted for the majority of the funding, £650k, to be allocated to a new LEADER fund to be administered by the council's economic regeneration partners North Devon+. Under this total there will be two ring fenced pots, £100k for leisure and infrastructure and £50k for culture projects leaving £500k for other bids. Two community infrastructure projects are also being funded on top of this, with £150k earmarked for Victoria Park play area improvements in Bideford and £195k for the rejuvenation of the Grade II* listed Great Torrington Market Hall. The LEADER style grant funding through North Devon+ will focus on helping businesses with grants for improving productivity, farm diversification, extending the tourist season, projects dealing with deprivation, improving sustainability with a focus on green energy, higher skilled and better paid jobs and strengthening the delivery of culture, leisure and wellbeing. The grants scheme will be finalised by April 2023 with varying amounts available up to nominal £25k maximum per project.
Councillor Ken James - Leader of Torridge District Council said:
"Businesses across Torridge are still struggling and looking for ways that they can improve their prospects or diversify into new markets, which includes our important farming community. With this in mind it's appropriate that the majority of this funding will be used to help Torridge businesses towards improved prosperity and perhaps also a renewed focus on creating a greener approach to how they operate. The fund will also support infrastructure projects in our towns and communities, and act as a catalyst to further rejuvenation and investment."