Rural Business Forum 2022
Rural businesses in West Berkshire come together to discuss rural prosperity
On Friday 4 November, West Berkshire Council held their first Rural Business Forum in Shaw House, Newbury. The aim of the event was to bring rural businesses in West Berkshire together and discuss the challenges and opportunities that could be explored with the council; including development, environment and rural community prosperity. The event was attended by a range of sectors including Estates, Farms, Horse Racing, Vineyards and Land Managers.
The in person event saw an exploration of key topics in the rural economy and opened with our Key Note Speaker, Lord Benyon, Minister of State for DEFRA, who was also representing Englefield Estate who talked about issues relating to planning, connectivity and environment. This was followed by Ed Cooper, Director of Biocap talking about Biodiversity Net Gain, and Tim Slaney, Director of Planning at South Downs National Park who spoke about whole estate plans within the protected area of outstanding natural beauty.
The afternoon included breakout sessions where attendees could discuss areas they think the opportunities and challenges to rural growth lies. The outcome from the groups on ideas and prioritisation will be taken on board to produce an action plan within the Council. We hope this will increase both the engagement with our rural businesses and make it easier to work with us to bring rural prosperity.
This event sees the beginning of a closer working relationship between the Council and businesses as we continue to make West Berkshire a great place to live and work. We received great feedback from the event with 100% of the attendees finding it useful. Following on from this, we will take the ideas explored in the forum to contribute to our proposal for the allocated Rural Prosperity Fund.
If you're a business interested in reading more on Council funding and bids, please visit: https://www.westberks.gov.uk/funding-bids to see our latest developments.