Rural development

The Rural Development Programme for Northern Ireland runs until 2020.  Ards and North Down Rural Partnership is the Local Action Group responsible for rural development schemes in the area. We will deliver LEADER elements of the programme.

Ards and North Down Rural Partnership
The Partnership has eleven social partners and nine elected partners.
Priority 6 of the Rural Development Programme identifies the importance of social inclusion, reducing poverty and developing the rural economy. Rural areas in Ards and North Down have received £3.85million for Priority 6 schemes as listed below.

Rural Basic Services Scheme

The Rural Basic Services Scheme will support capital investment which will provide access to basic services or improvements in social infrastructure (including activities to reduce isolation and/or poverty) to improve the welfare and access to basic services of those living in rural areas and which are an integral part of and in line with the Council Community Plan and emerging priorities. 

The level of capital grant funding is up to a maximum grant of £200,000 (75% of total project costs).  

Projects must relate to the main theme of Innovative Service Delivery, such as the creation of health hubs to deliver multiple services or community hubs where the capital infrastructure is put in place to allow a number of services to be delivered to the community. Infrastructure projects will be limited to small scale capital developments (up to £200,000).  Resource funding is available towards marketing and bespoke training. Please refer to the scheme sheet for more details on the funding thresholds and eligible costs.

This scheme will support capital investments which:
• will provide access to basic services or improvements in social infrastructure, including activities to reduce isolation or poverty
• will improve the welfare and access to basic services of those living in rural areas
• are in line with and integral to the Council Community Plan and emerging priorities

In order to assist you to apply for the funding, Rural Partners Ards and North Down will be holding mandatory pre application information workshops for applicants intending to apply to the next round of the Rural Basic Services Scheme. 

Pre Application Workshops

Tuesday 9 May: 7.30 - 9.00pm Lisbane Community Centre,16 Lisbarnett Road, Lisbane
Tuesday 16 May: 7.30 - 9.00pm Village Hall, Greyabbey, 62 Newtownards Road, Greyabbey
Tuesday 23 May: 7.30 - 9.00pm Signal Centre, 2 Innotec Drive, Balloo Road, Bangor


Rural Business Investment Scheme
The scheme is designed to create jobs. It will provide investment support to create and develop micro and small enterprises, including farm diversification and private tourism business in rural areas.

Village Renewal Scheme
This scheme is council-led. It will provide financial support for the drafting of integrated village plans, and for the renewal of rural villages through prioritises outlined in existing village plans.  The scheme will build on the overarching fabric of a village or town integrating with funding from other government departments and agencies.  It will also address rural dereliction and prioritise reuse of existing derelict buildings, particularly to provide community infrastructure. 


Rural Broadband Scheme
The scheme will provide financial support to fill the gap for rural dwellers who cannot access broadband and will help address the very rural ‘not spots’ that are outside the scope of other government initiatives.  Funding will be limited to small broadband infrastructure schemes that will involve innovative community-led solutions for local access.

Rural business funding available​

Funding of up to £90,000 for those looking to expand or develop a rural business in Ards and North Down.  

Rural Partners
To discuss a potential project idea, contact our Rural Development office.
Telephone: 028 9147 3788
Email: info@ruralpartnersand.co.uk