Rural Economic Development

Discover how we are working with our partners to facilitate community-led economic development.

About the project


Why is this needed?

Cambridgeshire ACRE has for over two decades led an approach to rural economic development that is based around place-making and advocates the principles of the LEADER approach: bottom-up; integrated; inclusive and area-based; providing added value and offering value for money. We work to engage the energy and resources of people and local organisations, empowering them to contribute to the future development of their rural area by forming area-based Local Action Groups (LAG) partnerships between the public, private and community and voluntary sectors. Local Action Group members and the community are directly involving in the development and delivery of local strategies, decision-making and funding allocations through grants to local projects.

Fenland is the only place in the Country where two LEADER programmes Wisbech Community-Led Local Development and Cambridgeshire Fens LEADER are successfully facilitated by the same accountable body (Cambridgeshire ACRE). Our expertise in developing place-based strategies; giving partnership support and empowering communities coupled with rigorous policies and procedures in place for public fund management has led to much success.

As EU programmes end and we begin UK Government funded programmes for rebuilding communities post-pandemic and addressing levelling-up, social mobility and NetZero, we remain strong advocates of taking the learning from the LEADER approach forward, particularly enabling local communities to remain at the heart of addressing local needs and challenges. This is achieved through strong partnership working with public, private and community and voluntary sectors; place-making in defining an area meaningful to those that work and live there and developing together an integrated local development strategy enabling funding investment.

The launch of the UK Community Renewal Fund (2021) gave us an opportunity for the Wisbech CLLD Local Action Group to work together to apply. If successful, this will allow for partnership delivery of a refocused local development strategy, investment into the voluntary and community sector and a range of community-led employment support projects for those directly affected by COVID.

How can you get involved?

We often hold events and seminars related to rural economic development, placemaking and community engagement strategies.

Please contact the Cambridgeshire ACRE Economic Programmes Team through this website or email If you wish to keep in touch, we can add you to our mailing list.

What impact has our work had?

Wisbech CLLD (programme runs to Dec-2022):

Fens LEADER (programme closed):


“Cambridgeshire ACRE have in my experience been excellent in providing the administrative and management support which these types of programmes require. In the LEADER programme for 2014-2020 every target was exceeded and the Cambridgeshire ACRE team were adept in ensuring that they engaged the community to ensure that programme take-up was maintained.”

“Cambridgeshire ACRE has taken the partnership lead on most of the projects that we have delivered which has enabled us to apply for funding for much needed projects that we would have been unable to deliver had we not taken a partnership approach, as we are a much smaller charity and do not have the infrastructure in place. The support from ACRE has been invaluable and enabled us to grow as a charity and provide a wider range of much needed services.”

“The approach to co-ordinating the submission for UKCRF which has been adopted by Cambridgeshire ACRE has been one of collaboration (building on the partnership approach of Wisbech CLLD and LEADER Programmes), this involves local organisations which have close links to the communities, in terms of delivery and communication this is invaluable. Because of this association with local delivery organisations, the suggested approach is very much bottom-up and anchored in the community, which will help to ensure that the provision will help to directly meet the needs of the beneficiaries.”

Further case studies

Useful links

Who can I talk to about this work?