The LEADER Programme 2014-2020

Welcome to East Kent and Kent Downs and Marshes LEADER

Kent downs and Marshes Logo           eastkentleaderlogo.jpg

What is the LEADER Programme?

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) LEADER Programme is a European Union rural funding approach, with grant funds available from late 2015 to December 2020.

The RDPE LEADER is a way of spending money on local issues, identified by people living in that area. This bottom up identification of local issues leads to locally tailored opportunities based on the economic, social, environmental and land based sector needs of the LEADER area.

The money is locally controlled, with decisions about which projects are funded being made by the Local Action Group (LAG) for the LEADER area. The LAG is made up of local private, public and civil society representatives. Each LAG develops a Local Development Strategy (LDS) for its given area and this describes what the LAG aims to achieve based on locally identified priorities and actions. The LAG has delegated powers to bring forward, assess and fund projects in line with their LDS objectives, and address local priorities in an innovative, inclusive and locally specific way through planning and implementing their LDS.

Funding under Leader is available to rural businesses, farmers, foresters, growers, landowners, environmental organisations, cultural, heritage and community providers, as well as voluntary and charitable organisations to develop projects that will assist, strengthen and develop themselves and their local area.

LEADER can provide grant investment between £2,500 and £50,000. Grants above this amount will be considered if, in the LAG’s opinion a project demonstrates excellent value for money and will significantly over deliver on outputs i.e. jobs and growth.

The emphasis of the Programme will be on providing Jobs and Growth. This is a requirement set by Defra and each LAG will deliver 70% of project funding directly in support of jobs and growth in the rural economy – using the six priorities for the new Programme. Secondly, it is expected that every project a LAG approves demonstrates it has a benefit to the rural economy.

The six priorities for Leader under the new Programme are;

  1. Support for increasing farm productivity
  2. Support for micro and small enterprises and farm diversification
  3. Support for rural tourism
  4. Provision of rural services
  5. Support for cultural and heritage activity
  6. Support for increasing forestry production


East Kent and Kent Downs and Marshes LEADER each have their own set of local priorities;

eastkent_mini_map.pngEast Kent LEADER

  • Enhancing the markets for local food and farming
  • Enhancing the markets for local wood and forestry
  • Growing the low carbon economy
  • Developing social entrepreneurship & micro enterprise for inclusive rural growth
  • Making best use of natural and cultural heritage


kentdm_mini_map.pngKent Downs and Marshes LEADER

  • Assist businesses to access the necessary ‘business critical’ infrastructure being developed at LEP and County level and encourage the take up of new technologies to increase productivity and competitiveness for rural businesses.
  • Foster a resilient, sustainable and profitable land based sector.
  • Support the development of a culture of rural entrepreneurship.
  • Strengthen the Visitor Economy in terms of sustainability and performance.
  • Foster the entrepreneurial capacity and resilience of rural communities encouraging innovative ways to deliver services.
  • Help maintain and protect the landscape as an economic and cultural asset.
  • Foster a low carbon economy as a key to preserving the environment.
  • Develop opportunities for multifunctional and sustainable woodland management in response to rising energy costs and promote integrated use.
  • Optimise and promote the use of local produce to grow the market.    


Both East Kent LEADER and Kent Downs and Marshes LEADER are assisted by Kent County Council with East Kent covering parts of the administrative areas of;

Swale; Canterbury; Thanet; Dover; Shepway and Ashford

and Kent Downs and Marshes covering parts of;

Medway; Maidstone; Ashford; Swale and Shepway (Romney Marshes)

To be eligible for funding through LEADER, your project must be within one of the LAG areas. To find out whether you are located in a LEADER LAG area, see the eligibility maps, or contact the East Kent or Kent Downs and Marshes Programme team.