Leader 4 delivers rural investment programme to Torridge and North Devon

18th February, 2014
A major five year programme providing funding and development support to projects throughout North Devon is being celebrated, after helping to lever in around £7 million of investment to the local economy.

The five year Leader 4 Torridge and North Devon Programme - run by accountable body, North Devon+ - aimed to improve the environment, the quality of life and bring prosperity for Torridge and North Devon’s rural communities.
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.

Vivian Gale continued: “We recognised that community buildings, such as village halls, are at the heart of rural communities.  They are valuable assets, a focus for group activities and often house a range of services, allowing people to work, rest and play.

“It is fantastic that through Leader 4 funding we’ve been able to provide a more secure future for these buildings so rural communities can benefit and thrive.”

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.

“We would very much like to hear from anyone about their experiences of Leader 4, as well as ideas for how the future programme could look. We are also very keen to hear the views of local people, businesses and organisations on what the priorities for northern Devon could be.”