In developing our local strategy, we made sure that we consulted with local businesses, and the rural community to ensure that our strategy would address the issues and priorities for our local LEADER area.
We carried out; a telephone survey of over 300 rural businesses, conducted rural business workshops, held an on-line consultation with farmers and community groups, and consulted with many environmentally focused organisations including the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust, the Forestry Commission, the Environment Agency and the National Trust. This helped us put together a list of all the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats facing the area of the Loddon and Test. From this we compiled how best to address these and draft the priorities for the future LEADER Programme. Please see our Local Development Strategy for more details on these priorities.
Our research and evaluation of the previous Loddon and Eversley LEADER Programme gave us a better understanding about how our grants had helped businesses and the wider benefits from their growth. We discovered that businesses needed a kick start to help them off the ground, and how even a small grant can significantly push a business forward. We looked at the difference the projects had made – for people, rural communities and a thriving countryside economy.
We have used this knowledge to help shape the future LEADER programme at the local level. We will be looking at best examples of future projects that can show business growth whilst contributing to the surrounding rural community, working with other local businesses, and maintaining the character of the rural landscape, it’s wildlife and heritage.