Renfrewshire Council

Funding for the future of our rural communities

Rural communities with innovative ideas to develop their area and its local businesses may get the funding they need from the Greater Renfrewshire and Inverclyde LEADER programme.

LEADER is a community development initiative, funded by the European Union, to support small-scale innovative projects. The scheme encourages local people to work together; sharing skills, knowledge and connections to deliver successful projects to help strengthen their communities.

Grants will be awarded for projects that support the three main themes in the Greater Renfrewshire and Inverclyde Local Development Strategy: Economy, Environment and Community.

The strategy encourages small and medium sized social enterprises, micro-businesses, tourism and farm diversification that will help to develop the local economy. It is also committed to securing a high quality environment for residents and visitors, and to building stronger rural communities.

LEADER has already supported highly successful projects in Renfrewshire and East Renfrewshire.

  • Whitelee Mountain Bike Trail

Whitelee is the UK's largest on-shore windfarm and the site of 4km of bespoke mountain bike trails, designed by the experts who delivered the Beijing Olympic and Glasgow Commonwealth Games courses.

The project has transformed a former gravel pit, with limited ecological value, into a high profile destination that has attracted around 25,000 local people and visitors since it opened in July 2014.

LEADER funding has helped to develop Whitelee as a recreational facility appealing to families and expert mountain cyclists. It is open all day, on every day of the year, and is free of charge.

  • Eaglesham Heritage Trail

The Eaglesham heritage trail opened in September 2011. It was the first ever project undertaken by the Eaglesham and Waterfoot Community Development Trust, making it a valued learning experience for the members involved.

The trail is an informative outdoor attraction that increases awareness of Eaglesham's fascinating history. It illustrates existing pathways with twelve information panels revealing key historical points.

With its innovative use of natural and historical assets, Eaglesham's community has successfully established the village as a destination for heritage tourism.

  • Castle Semple Heritage Trail

Visitors to the Castle Semple Heritage Trail, near Lochwinnoch, have long enjoyed its outdoor activities, natural riches and legacy of the area's industrial past. Now, a series of nine unique vantage points punctuates the trail, each reflecting and interpreting something of the local history, natural history or culture. They are the result of a community led and LEADER funded initiative to develop Castle Semple as a visitor attraction and popular recreational choice for local people.

In 2012, the Semple Trail Heritage Project started working to preserve its historic and natural heritage. It has also worked to improve people's access to the trail and its treasures with new paths, signage and interpretation. Now, all visitors to Castle Semple can see and enjoy the connections between the natural riches and the historical legacy of the park.

CVS Inverclyde, which represents community groups, volunteers and social enterprises, says, "LEADER will provide the region with many great opportunities to encourage enterprising third sector organisations and small businesses to help improve rural diversity.  The priority here is to look at ways in which we can boost the rural economy and also build upon what is a burgeoning tourism sector.  With breathtaking scenery, from countryside to coastal pathways along the River Clyde, we are particularly keen to enhance our tourism and leisure offer."

People and groups Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde's rural communities with ideas that might benefit from LEADER funding, are cordially invited to join the LEADER team at launch events at: Tweedie Hall, Linwood on Monday 4 July, 5.30pm-7.30pm, The Bank, Neilston, on Wednesday 13 July, 6.00pm-7.30pm, and at the Kip Marina, Thursday 21 July, 5.30pm-7.30pm. Further information is online at www.grileader.co.uk.

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