Development of Rural Tourism and Recreation – Am I Eligible?

About this Grant Programme

The rich heritage of the Plain Action and Vale Action landscape is a major attraction for visitors, along with the associated rural activities of the area.  The Plain boasts internationally important historical and archaeological sites, including Stonehenge and Woodhenge, and there is the Wiltshire Heritage Museum in Devizes, which houses some of the most important prehistoric items in the country, as well as the smaller town museums of Amesbury and Warminster. Other major attractions are found in Salisbury, Bath, Longleat, Center Parks and at Avebury.  Within the Vale Action area to the north attractions include National Trust properties and the Cotswold Water Park.  This grant programme has been set up to encourage development of tourism in the Plain Action and Vale Action areas. We recognise that this offers a significant opportunity to grow the economy, create jobs, support existing businesses, and provide investment into the natural and historic assets of the area.

Grants are available for between £5,000 and £100,000.  60% match funding required if this is a commercial, profit-making project - such as a tourist attraction.  However, if your project makes some income to offset costs but is not intended to make a profit (such as small buildings for tourist information, festivals) 80% funding is available.  If your project generates no income (such as a new cycle path) up to 100% funding is available.

Examples of the types of projects we could fund include;

  • Support for development of high quality visitor products and services that encourage tourists to stay longer, link tourism providers together and extend the tourist season.
  • Support for development of quality accommodation where there are clearly defined wider benefits to the local tourism economy and where activities do not displace existing accommodation
  • Supporting tourism activities/niche products linked to quality local food, culture, heritage and rural crafts/assets, including heritage events and festivals promoting local culture.
  • Supporting shops, catering services e.g. restaurants and cafes where there are wider benefits to the local tourism economy
  • Development of access infrastructure to help people connect to the natural environment such as paths and cycle-ways
  • Supporting tourist information centres and associated visitor information
  • Developing and associated marketing and signposting of culture, leisure, heritage, visitor activities or attractions
  • Supporting events and festivals
  • Developing innovative technology that enhances collaboration between businesses and provides information to attract visitors.
  • Eco-tourism
  • Recreational business opportunities in woodlands/forests
  • The costs of construction, acquisition (including leasing) or improvement to immovable property
  • Marketing and promotion (excluding printing) where these are part of a larger project
  • Capital costs involved in supporting events and festivals (e.g equipment hire, marquee hire, marketing development costs)
  • General costs such as architect, engineer and consultants fees up to a maximum of 15% of total project costs.
  • Acquisition or development of computer software
  • Acquisition of patents, licences, copyrights, trademarks

Outcomes we expect you to achieve

Below is a list of the sort of outcomes we would hope to see projects achieve. Projects are not expected to deliver on all outcomes, this list provides a form of guidance to applicants. It sets out what makes a project more desirable. A project may only deliver on one outcome, but that may be to such a degree that it outweighs the need to deliver on others. For example, one project may create many jobs, but deliver no further outcomes. Please bear in mind that LEADER is a grant programme that aims to boost the rural economy, therefore job creation and growth are of significant importance. If this is not a direct benefit to the applicant, it should be a benefit to other businesses and the wider rural economy.

  • Additional direct employment created
  • Increased GVA (gross value added) profits
  • Beneficial collaboration with other businesses
  • Will your business/project make use of local suppliers?
  • Will your business/project make use of local services, e.g local shop, post office, village hall etc?
  • Existing or new tourism activities supported
  • No. of potential additional overnight stays per annum in the local area
  • No. of potential additional day visits in the local area
  • Reduction in carbon emissions
  • Improved energy/water use
  • Reduction to waste
  • Beneficial impacts on sustainable travel
When you Need to Apply



We hold Decision Making Panels every two months. In order for your project to be assessed at any given panel, you must submit your full project application and any supporting documents no less than one month prior to the panel date you wish to make. Should you be successful, you will then be able to start your project once you have heard from us and we have sent you your grant funding agreement. This usually takes up to four weeks from the date of the Decision Making Panel.

For further information and a list of Decision Making Panel dates, please refer to the Management Group meeting dates on the Vale Action or Plain Action Board section of this website.

Am I Eligible?

Part 1 – You must be able to answer YES to all of the following questions:-

  • Am I a new or existing micro or small business (fewer than 50 FTE staff or 10 million euros turnover), a community group, a farm business, a collaboration of businesses, local authority, NGO or a destination organisation?
  • Am I looking for capital funding only(revenue funding may be available for one-off set up costs for community or not for profit projects)?
  • Am I able to match fund the project with 60% of my own funds (in kind or other public body contributions are not permitted)?
  • Is my application larger than £5,000 (not including 60% match funding)?
  • Can I cash flow the project 100%? I must make all purchases before receiving the grant. I will receive payment after receipts have been submitted with my claim (claims may take up to 8 weeks to process).
  • Will I be able to continue with the project objectives, including maintaining ownership and use of any items purchased for a period of at least 5 years after claiming the grant?
  • Am I able to provide 3 years accounts, or for a new business a financial forecast (if grant requested is under £35k I will only need 2 years accounts)?
  • If I am a tenant, will I have at least 5 years minimum term remaining on the tenancy agreement from the point of claiming the grant?
  • Is my project start date at least 4 months from the date I will send the full application or is it flexible?
  • Will my project be completed within 12 months of receiving a contract grant offer?
  • If purchasing second-hand equipment, can I prove this was not previously purchased using public funds in the last 7 years and has at least 5 years useful life remaining?
  • If applicable, are all consents, permissions and licences in place e.g. planning permission?
  • Can I demonstrate a proven need/market for my proposals?

Part 2 – You must be able to answer NO to all the following questions. Is your application for:-

  • A commercial business that has received up to a maximum of 200,000 euros in government funding in the last 3 years?
  • A project that comprises routine repairs or maintenance of premises or equipment
  • Like for like replacements?
  • Hard copy marketing material?
  • A project that is part of my normal routine day to day work?
  • Ongoing staff or running costs (including salaries of permanent or fixed term staff)?
  • Any costs I incur when putting together my application – including consents such as planning permission, agents fees?
  • Any items that I already get EU or national funding for?
  • Day to day running costs of your premises (for example utility bills, council tax, rent or insurance)?
  • Contingency costs?
  • Land or building projects where the ownership or lease is not yet in place?
  • Loans, fines or interest payments?
  • Costs connected with a leasing contract, such as lessor’s margin, interest refinancing costs, overheads and insurance charges?
  • Purchase of equipment that will not be legally owned by me, the applicant, at the time of claiming the grant?
  • Activities that will happen or start before the grant is confirmed?
  • Items that are purchased on behalf of another business/organisation?
  • A project or activity that the state, or my own business, has a legal obligation to provide, or is a standard industry obligation, e.g. disabled access, fire regulations, emergency exits (unless this is part of a wider major expansion project and cannot be segregated)?
  • Projects that I cannot maintain due to high ongoing costs, or projects that are not sustainable long-term?
  • VAT that I can recover?
  • Purchase of animals or plants?
  • Own labour?
  • Ongoing licence fees, subscriptions and service charges?
  • Feasibility Studies?
  • Improvements to my primary/main residential dwelling unit?
  • Standard computer and mobile equipment, e.g. computers, software and printers used for the general running of the business, such as processing orders and accounts?
  • Moveable fittings such as soft furnishing, beds, tables, chairs, curtains, television and audio equipment, crockery, cutlery, small kitchen equipment?
  • Tourism brown signs or motorway signage?
  • General landscaping, unless it is part of ‘making good’ for an application for a major attraction or accommodation expansion (only landscaping contractor’s fees would be eligible, not plants, seeds, turf or trees)?
  • Costs for renewable heat and energy systems covered by the renewable heat incentive (RHI) or Feed-In Tariffs (FITs)?
  • A project that will displace economic activity undertaken by other businesses?
Fit with Local and National Priorities

Local Priority

This grant programme fits within the Plain Action and Vale Action Priority 2: Enhance the tourism experience in the area.

National Priority

It fits the Rural Development Programme National Priority 3: Support for rural tourism.

LEADER Programme Measures

All projects will need to show which programme measure they fit into. For this grant programme, there are 2 potential measures that could fit.

  • Measure 6.4 – Support for Investments on creation and development of non-agricultural activities.
  • Measure 7.5 – Support for investments for public use in recreational infrastructure, tourist information and small scale tourism infrastructure.