More funding for LEADER grants – July 2018

A favourable exchange rate means that the Southern Dorset Local Action Group has more funding for grants to give to rural businesses and communities across west and south Dorset. But time is of the essence to get your grant before Brexit.

Don’t miss out on this last call for projects from the EU funded LEADER programme to grow the rural economy in west Dorset, Purbeck and Portland.

The Local Action Group has already awarded grants to a variety of innovative capital projects, such as:

  • rural businesses expanding and needing some help to create additional space and buy new equipment;
  • projects attracting tourists to venues away from the busy coastline;
  • a new business idea looking for capital investment to start;
  • village residents wanting to create new facilities for the community.

Grants range from £5,000 to £140,000 are available from 40% to 100% of the eligible costs, but projects must be able to finish before the end of September 2019.

Talk to Sarah or Melita from the Dorset LEADER team to find out if your project could be eligible. Call 01305 225525 or find out more about the Southern Dorset Local Action at

Deadlines for Expressions of Interest 30 August 2018 and 4 October 2018.

Turn your great project idea into a great LEADER project

How can we help turn your great project idea into a great LEADER project?

As early as possible;

  •  talk through your project with one of the Programme Team
  • look at Project hints & tips on the noticeboard
  • book an application surgery.  Surgeries are short (up to 45 minute) one-to-one chats to discuss their project in more detail.  The surgery will help you establish whether your project could be eligible or answer any questions you may have about the application form.  They are held across both Dorset LAG areas and you can book a space at any surgery.  Booking is essential. To book call 01305 225525 or email

2018 Surgery Venues

13 February – Gillingham

27 February – Sherborne

15 March Verwood

26 March – Dorchester

9 April – Wareham

24 April – Beaminster

Did you know LEADER can fund community buildings in Dorset?

LEADER provides grants to support rural economic growth and job creation, and there’s often an overlap between these aims and the work and activities of community organisations. Grants of up to 40% are available for capital costs that support new developments – and exceptionally, more where there is no direct benefit for the applying organisation.

Village Hall

Whitchurch Village hall received £30,000 of LEADER funding towards the cost of an extension. This allowed a rural village pre-school to operate from the hall, and improved facilities generally, attracting more users.

Other funds are available that are useful in themselves, but can also complement LEADER funding: for match funding and for short term loans to cover costs before claiming for LEADER. See links below for some examples.

See the Dorset LEADER website for more info, and get in touch to discuss your project idea

Other sources of funding:


Loans and other funding approaches

The SDLAG sets a challenge to support rural communities, local products and tourism

bc_postbox-c-dorset-leaderThe Local Action Group has also identified several areas for specific support and on the 7 November launched a competitive challenge to residents, community groups and enterprises to help it meet three of these objectives.

Call 1 Local Food & Drink Innovation: Up to £40,000 is available for one project to strengthen locally produced, food and drink supply chains, locally and further afield. The local food and drink sector in Dorset is vibrant and dynamic, with enormous potential to drive growth and create employment. Some locations within the LAG are already well served with food and drink events and festivals but the wider ability of the sector to raise its profile in and out of the county and for producers to deliver cost-effective, consistency for buyers, requires further development. The closing date for first stage applications is 6 January 2017. Download the Call Paper for the Food & Drink Project

Call 2 Community Places, Community Hubs: Up to £183,000 is available to be shared across several projects. These projects will support rural communities to create new provision for rural services across multiple or shared services. Residents of the LAG area tell us that essential rural services are under threat and in decline. Pressures from a wide range of factors contribute to the difficulties faced by rural residents to sustain existing services. Many look for support to help create imaginative solutions to ensure the survival of their community shop, pub, post office, library, doctor’s surgery, youth centre, day care centre, pre-school, etc. The closing date for first stage applications is 2 March 2017. Download the Call Paper for the Community Project

Call 3 Celebrate Rural Dorset: Up to £40,000 is available for one proposal to work with rural communities researching and delivering innovative visitor interpretation. The LAG sees considerable scope for adding value to the remarkable natural, historic and cultural heritage of southern Dorset. The closing date for first stage applications is 6 January 2016. Download the Call Paper to Celebrate rural Dorset

The calls are competitive and only those which meet the set criteria will be invited to make an application.