Leader 4 Torridge and North Devon, which ended last month, provided £3.14 million in funding. It supported 162 projects, 104 of which were for small businesses.
Katy Graham, Leader 4 Programme Manager said: 'The Leader 4 programme has been a massive success, helping our area to prosper economically and environmentally, ultimately enhancing the quality of life for communities and businesses.
A key factor in this success is that projects are driven by the local community, giving decision making to a partnership of local people from the business, community, voluntary and public sectors.
We were the third largest out of 64 programmes across England and one of the few that not only fully allocated our budget to projects, but were also successful in gaining additional funds right at the end of the programme.'
Vivian Gale, Chairman of the decision making Local Action Group said: 'From the very start, Leader 4 has funded a wide range of innovative projects including 97 grants to small businesses to help them grow, developing Combe Martin Museum to provide tourist information services, the Ilfracombe Healthy Town scheme, the purchase of the Appledore to Instow Ferry and helping local radio station 'The Voice' expand their service onto FM. All of these have undoubtedly helped Leader 4 to achieve its aim of enhancing the socio economic wellbeing of the North Devon and Torridge and I am proud of our success.'
One of the largest areas of support for the programme was for community buildings, with over a third of Leader 4 funding being spent on these important assets.
This project issued grants to 16 community buildings across the area, helping to ensure future sustainability - environmentally, economically and also in terms of governance. It included building a brand new parish hall in Bishops Nympton, creating the community owned workspaces at High Bickington and establishing an interactive exhibition space at Fremington Quay Heritage Centre.
A final event to mark successful completion of the programme was held on 24th January at Bishops Nympton. Grant beneficiaries from businesses, public bodies and the community and voluntary sector, together with representatives from local councils and other partners, joined to celebrate the programme's achievements.
Following the success of Leader 4 it is hoped to secure further funding in the future. North Devon+ will soon begin a programme of consultation to secure funding for a new LEADER programme to commence in January 2015. The next programme will have an even greater focus on the rural economy including supporting jobs and growth. North Devon+ is the chief economic delivery agency for North Devon and Torridge.
They aim to deliver positive change, creating a more productive economy and more prosperous communities. Their role is to ensure our area thrives as a place in which to live, learn, work and visit. The primary focus is on regeneration, tourism and business development. Working with Torridge District Council, North Devon Council, Devon County Council and the private sector to deliver projects and initiatives that encourage and support business growth, improve quality of life, and address social and economic inequalities.
North Devon+ is a member of the National Enterprise Network. For more information visit: www.northdevonplus.co.uk
The Leader 4 Torridge and North Devon Programme will fund new and innovative projects which contribute to the programme objectives and meet the needs of the area. All projects will require some additional funding from public or private sources to match the grant. The amount of grant given to any project will vary from 10% to 70% depending on the type of activity.
Applicants can be from the community, voluntary, business or public sector. The programme will prioritise projects and activities which meet sustainable development and low carbon criteria. All applications will be subject to an independent environmental appraisal.
The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) runs from 2007 to 2013. It is the 2nd pillar of the Common Agricultural Policy and aims to support the creation of genuinely sustainable farming, forestry and food sectors, whilst also bringing wider benefits for the economy, the environment and rural communities. It provides the major financial vehicle for protecting and enhancing the environment and securing a range of public benefits for society. The RDPE has three priorities for rural development:- Improving competitiveness of the agriculture and forestry sector, Improving the environment and the countryside and Improving the quality of life in rural areas and encouraging diversification of economic activity.
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