Wednesday, 26 March 2008 08:57

£200k for redundant rural buildings

Written by  Ruralcity Media
A £200,000 fund is to breathe new life into Somerset's redundant rural buildings.

The special workspace programme is part of Somerset County Council's Rural Renaissance scheme.

Funded by the South West Regional Development Agency, it provides grants to bring redundant buildings back into use to create or safeguard jobs in rural communities.

The programme has £200,000 to distribute before the end of March 2009 and is inviting new applications to be submitted no later than 1 November 2008.

Applications can come from anywhere in Somerset, apart from the towns of Taunton, Bridgwater and Yeovil, for projects that:

  • Re-use previously developed land and buildings.
  • Support rural regeneration, diversification and growth;
  • Create and maintain local employment.

Rupert Cox, chairman of the Somerset Rural Renaissance Partnership, said the programme was already helping small businesses by using existing buildings that would otherwise remain redundant.


Nine projects have already been helped
Over the past 18 months the Workspace Programme had allocated around £360,000 to nine building projects.

These included an old cowshed transformed into new office space near Wincanton and a old stone buildings converted into a conference centre and café near Ilminster.


Mr Cox said: "The new funding means we can bring these benefits to even more rural communities and I hope plenty of new entrepreneurs take the opportunity to make an application."

All applications will be considered on their merits but projects that support the priority sectors of food and drink, advanced engineering, environmental technologies and creative industries will be favoured.

The programme is also keen to support the development of environmentally sustainable communities through reducing travel and car use, and use of appropriate building design.

But grants are not available to support the development of accommodation or to fund new buildings.

Councillor Alvin Horsfall, Somerset County Council’s portfolio holder for economic development, said: “If our rural communities are to remain strong and vibrant it is essential that they are places for people can work as well as live.

"This scheme is making that happen, encouraging economic activity outside Somerset’s main urban areas by addressing one of the key needs of a fledgling business – suitable premises."

Grants can be made for feasibility studies (up to 50% of costs) up to a maximum of £10,000, or for the cost of converting the redundant building  (up to 25% of costs) up to a maximum of £136,000.

             See also:
                  • Skills shortage 'threatens rural buildings' (29 April 2008)
                  • Regeneration scheme extended in Somerset (15 April 2008)
                  • Landowners in plea to convert buildings (6 April 2008)

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