Wealden in line for £838K boost for rural businesses

Funding to support rural businesses and communities has been awarded to Wealden District Council through the Rural England Prosperity Fund.

Sheep in a field with hay bales on Rickney Marsh

The council has been allocated £838,120 of capital funding for a two year period starting this month.

The fund will allow the council to administer and manage a business grants programme, which will be launched later this year so rural businesses can apply for capital funding for projects which lead to job safeguarding, increased productivity and modernisation. This might include the purchase of equipment and lasting assets or the conversion of buildings.

A small allocation of funds will also support rural tourism by developing a Wealden Visitor Trail.

Now the funding has been confirmed, town and parish councils and community organisations will be invited to apply for grants through a specific capital grant programme, which is to be launched later this year, in support of projects that support net zero and infrastructure which improves the natural environment such as ‘greening up’ outside space, wildflower verges and active travel initiatives.

This includes improving local resilience against the impacts of climate change and encouraging residents to walk and cycle more. In addition, some funding could be allocated to the roll-out of new electric vehicle charging points across Wealden.

The council submitted information to the Department for Environmental, Food and Rural Affairs in November last year to secure the funding.

The fund is a new £110million, two year capital fund from DEFRA complementary to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund run by the Department of Levelling Up Housing and Communities. It is a top up for eligible authorities which have already submitted an investment plan for UKSPF, to address the extra needs of rural areas.

The fund aims to address three key challenges that rural areas face; lower productivity rates; poorer connectivity and poorer access to key services.

The fund will support rural businesses and support new and improved community infrastructure, providing essential community services and assets for local people and businesses to benefit the local economy.