Helping turn plans into profit

Amy Thomas – North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme Manager

North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme logoIt’s great to be able to start a new year with some good news – so we are very pleased to say that the North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme is now open for business again.

LEADER funding is for projects that create jobs and help businesses grow and which therefore benefit the rural economy.

Between now and September 2018 the LEADER Programme in the North York Moors, Coast and Hills area is looking to support applications for projects or activity under the following four priorities:

  1. Farm Productivity;
  2. Micro and Small Business & Farm Diversification;
  3. Rural Tourism; and
  4. Forestry Productivity.

Farm Productivity
As an important and significant economic sector in the wider North York Moors area, the Programme wants to support the agricultural sector to grow and become more profitable. Applications under this priority need to help improve your farms productivity. Examples of potential activities include:

  • The purchase of equipment to improve the efficiency of use of water, energy, fertilizer, and animal feeds such as LED lighting in livestock sheds,
    specialist drills and crop robotics;
  • Support for businesses which process, market or develop agricultural products both on and off farm holdings, for example food and drink businesses and butchery facilities; or
  • Improvements to animal health and welfare for example gait analysis systems, mobile handling systems, and electronic weight systems linked to EID (electronic identification) readers.

Pickering Market Place

Micro and Small Businesses
LEADER wants to help establish, support and grow micro and small businesses in the area. Investments can be made which will help you produce more or something new, or help you access new markets or link up with other businesses in the area. All applications will need to show that the investment will directly result in increased employment opportunities and / or growth of the business. Farm diversification activities are also eligible.

Rural Tourism
Tourism is another key element of our Blue plaque - Brompton, near Scarboroughlocal economy. The LEADER Programme wants to support tourism businesses to improve their offer to visitors, to be more innovative in the use of technology, and to extend the season which will increase footfall and visitor spending in the area. Visitor attractions, facilities, products and services can all be considered. To be successful your application will need to show that jobs will be created and that the economy will benefit as a result of any funding being awarded.

Forestry Productivity
Our fourth priority is forestry. LEADER wants to support forestry contracting businesses or private forestry holdings requiring equipment and machinery to help produce, extract or process both timber and non-timber products. Continuing with the economic theme of the Programme, your application will need to show that LEADER funding will help create employment opportunities, and add value to the timber / forest products, as well as improve woodland management.

Forestry management in the North York Moors. Copyright NYMNPA.Our area has inspiring landscapes, unique attractions, notable assets and resourceful people – LEADER funding can help make more of these benefits. If you have plans for your farm, your business, your community, it would be well worth having a look at what LEADER is offering.

Full details on how to apply, including the Outline Application (and a list of eligible / ineligible equipment), can be found on our website –

Our website also has a lot more information on LEADER, but if you have any questions or queries, or would like to talk through a potential project or application in advance of submitting an Outline Application, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.

People, Places and Projects

Amy Thomas – North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme Manager

After five years of work we’ve made it to the end of the 2008-2013 North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with our fantastic LEADER Programme (shame on you) it’s been a tale of projects and people, places and the other dreaded ‘p’ – paperwork! Basically, the Programme provided funding for innovative and sustainable rural development projects under three themes: Basic Services, Village Renewal & Tourism, Conservation & Heritage.

With memories of the last Programme already beginning to fade, I thought this would be the ideal opportunity to share some of the highlights and at the same time to keep the idea of LEADER alive as we move rather quickly towards our next Programme.

Back in 2008 with five years stretching ahead of us, we started out on our LEADER adventure full of enthusiasm and high hopes. It has to be said that the end result was everything we’d hoped it would be and more. It’s been a journey which has not only had the pleasure and privilege in making a small contribution to so many projects and communities, but has provided me (and my colleagues I’m sure!) with enormous job satisfaction.

Over the years a huge number of people have been involved in the LEADER Programme delivering projects in their village or as a member of our Local Action Group and/or Executive Group.

The Executive Group have played a vital role making decisions on many aspects of the Programme. Many of the Executive were local volunteers who gave their time and skills freely, and acquitted themselves exceptionally well to the task at hand.

Esk Pearl Mussel VisitAlong with the hard work of assessing and approving project applications, the Executive got stuck in to days negotiating the muddy banks of the River Esk to see some of the work done by the Esk Pearl Mussel & Salmon Recovery Project, trying their hand at a spot of dowsing with the Mulgrave Community Research Project, and inspecting the orchards and production unit of Husthwaite’s now famous apple juice and cider. These visits brought individual projects to life and gave us all the chance to really see the positive contributions being made to local life through LEADER funding.

The projects we have been able to support have provided us with many great stories to share. Our first training project, the Yorkshire Moors Agricultural Apprenticeship Scheme (YMAAS) took on their first group of seven apprentices in 2009. Following the successful completion of their apprenticeships, all seven young people moved on to further education or employment. YMAAS has continued and are now beginning to work with their third set of apprentices, and are frequently held up nationally as a model of good practice.YMAAS

More than 20 communities were supported by the LEADER funded Community Access Project and Martyn Williams (the Project Officer) to create or improve footpaths around their villages. These new circular or linear routes are providing safe new routes to school for children, creating local visitor amenities and have meant the upgrading of a number of footpaths to multi-user routes at some of the National Park’s most popular locations.  

Following the identification of a new circular route around Coxwold, residents rolled up their sleeves and got stuck in, helping with everything from installing gates to improving surfacing.Community Access Project in Coxwold

Many of the smallest projects assisted (usually through the LEADER funded Small Scale Enhancement Schemes) have been located in some of the most beautiful parts of our area and have given us an insight into some fascinating hidden gems. To name just a few, the conservation work at Castle Howard’s Exclamation Gates, at Howsham Mill and at Handale Abbey, along with the new interpretation panels at Egton Mortuary Chapel and Warren Moor Mine, Kildale are all well worth a visit.Egton Mortuary Chapel

The people who made each project happen are often the lynch pin within communities and so were crucial to the Programme. Without them we would never have been able to have achieved all we have. The people behind the projects never failed to amaze me with their dedication and commitment. I’ve seen them do everything from making tea and scones for fundraising to digging up concrete village hall floors. The same people have also been the ones filling in the forms and I’m sure the paperwork has been tedious but it is unfortunately always an essential part of funding. However despite the difficulties and the highs and lows that some projects go through, I’d like to think that the pride of opening the doors of their newly refurbished village hall, selling their first bottle of apple juice or seeing their village come together to celebrate centuries of traditions reminded them of why they got involved, and in doing so how they became a part of the local LEADER story. Gilling East VH Opening

So…the five years have flown by in the blink of an eye and some tremendous projects have emerged, but instead of mourning the end of our LEADER Programme, I’d much rather see this as an opportunity to embark on our next exciting chapter. We’re going to take all we’ve learnt and use this to build our next Programme. Although it is likely to be fundamentally different in terms of the projects we’ll be able to support, it will still hold at its core the traditional LEADER principles of co-operation, networking and innovation achieved through bottom up local development.

We shall relish the challenge of developing our new Programme and the more people who get involved, the better the end result will undoubtedly be! If this all sounds like something you’d like to know more about or would like to know how you can get involved, please get in touch 


We will apply to Defra in September to have a new LEADER Programme for our area and will hear by the end of the year if we have been successful.

An afternoon of looking to the future

Jo Collins – LEADER Programme Officer

The North York Moors Coast and Hills LEADER Local Action Group event ‘Shaping the Future’ took place on the 24 April at Hutton Le Hole. Delegates spent the morning taking part in a unique tour of the new LEADER funded Community Library and Archive at Ryedale Folk Museum.  A tasty soup and sandwich lunch at the Barn Tea Rooms in Hutton-Le-Hole was enjoyed by all.

Hutton-Le-Hole village hall provided the venue for the afternoon’s presentations and discussions. Peter Spencer, Malcolm Bowes and Patrick Holdsworth (from the LEADER Executive Group) gave a summary of some of the recent LEADER project achievements and introduced the afternoon’s discussions. Catriona McLees, Head of Promotion and Tourism at the National Park Authority, gave a presentation about the Moors and More local distinctiveness project – a project designed to boost local business and increase tourism within the North York Moors National Park and the wider LEADER area.

This was followed by lively and constructive discussions on the current and possible future LEADER programme. The main points included:

  • The current LEADER funded Small Scale Enhancements scheme is well supported and has a simple and easy application process.  The current main LEADER programme had a more difficult application process however this is well supported by staff.  This availability of support has enabled the successful delivery of projects.
  • A future programme should have a simplified application process and less bureaucracy where possible. There should be more information and support about the application process with capacity building training to assist communities to complete the projects and continue to benefit from them in the future making the projects sustainability beyond the funding.
  • A future programme should include funds for economic development support, particularly for new businesses, but in balance with community, and heritage interests.
  • Future projects should focus on – enhanced rural broadband provision; greater support for young people perhaps through apprenticeship schemes and with a greater level of involvement in the planning of a new programme; funds focussed on supporting elderly and retired people; and support for social enterprise to benefit communities.
  • The current geographical area is about right however it would be good to include the market towns which currently can’t benefit from LEADER funding, and to close up gaps between the different LEADER areas in the country.
  • The current Local Action Group itself has an appropriate role however a future programme should try harder to bring in younger members to the Group, to look at improving publicity about the LAG and the LEADER programme, and to increase communication with rural communities.


Thanks very much to all who took part and watch this space for future North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER programme consultation events, and the development of a future LEADER programme for the area.

LEADER: community lead approach to rural development

Amy Thomas – North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme Manager

The North York Moors National Park Authority doesn’t only try and conserve the natural and historic environment of the North York Moors; the Authority also has a duty to ‘seek to foster the economic and social well being of local communities’. Often, conserving the environment and supporting local communities can go hand in hand.

We deliver the North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme across the National Park and the wider area around, providing matched funding for community lead rural development projects. LEADER is a European fund for rural communities. Our Programme’s priorities are basic services, village renewal & tourism, and conservation & heritage. Our Programme has been running since 2009 and all the funding is now committed – which is good news because it means we’ve had our money’s worth and we won’t have to give any back.

The North York Moors, Coast and Hills LEADER Programme itself officially ends at the beginning of 2014. Hopefully we can secure a future LEADER funded programme for the area after 2015 when a new Rural Development Plan for England will be in place. Between the end of the current Programme and the start of any future programme there will be a transition period with work required to demonstrate the need for a new programme locally through a Local Development Strategy, to identify delivery improvements and efficiencies, and to develop new relationships  e.g. with  Local Enterprise Partnerships. We will keep you posted.

Meanwhile, Jo Collins our new LEADER Programme Officer started in March. Jo will be working on the monitoring and evaluation of the current projects, and organising community consultations to provide information for the whole Programme evaluation and the transition into a future LEADER programme.

Work begins at Wilton Village Hall

Work begins at Wilton Village Hall

Examples of recent project progress have included a start on the new multi use games facility in Loftus, and major improvement works to Fadmoor and Wilton Village Halls. After a new heating system and double glazing was installed in Fadmoor Village Hall, the community were able to enjoy possibly their first warm Christmas party ever.

In March we hosted a group of French students who are studying forb MScs in public administration. The students’ research involves comparing similar rural areas across Europe.

There are a couple of upcoming LEADER Programme events –

  • a Local Action Group (LAG) meeting at Hutton le Hole on 24 April 2013, where LAG members can start to get involved in the process to develop a future programme by letting us know what they think about the current programme and what a new programme should look like and include;
  • and a joint final LAG event with the Yorkshire Dales LEADER Programme on 16 October 2013 at Fountains Abbey at which the final report and evaluation of the two programmes will be presented – more details to come nearer the time.

Everyone is welcome – but booking is required. Local Action Groups are made up of individuals who broadly represent the interests of the LEADER Programme area and its’ communities, and steer the policies and strategies of each Programme.