What is the accommodation grant?

Our aim is to make it easier for walkers and riders to visit the North Downs Way National Trail by increasing the availability of affordable and accessible accommodation.

The grant scheme will support the development of new low-cost accommodation, that has a low or positive landscape impact on the North Downs Way National Trail and the surrounding countryside.

It’s being delivered by the North Downs Way National Trail in collaboration with the Kent Downs AONB Unit and Kent County Council. And is funded by the EXPERIENCE Project via the European Regional Development Fund France Channel (England) Programme.

Who can apply?

Businesses who are on the North Downs Way National Trail. Or within 5km of it.

It’s open to all businesses, whether you’re micro, small or medium in size. Or are a Sole Trader, Partnership, Limited Company, Trust, Limited Liability Partnership, Charity, Community Interest Organisation, Public Organisation, or Private individual applicant.

What accommodation does it support?

New low-cost accommodation for walkers and riders, for example:

  • Camping pods and bothies.
  • Existing structure conversions, such as camping barn type structure.
  • All season ‘nearly wild’ camping – with basic services including toilets and shower. This website has good examples.

While the scheme supports many accommodation types and costs, there are a few it doesn’t include. For example, rooms in a domestic dwelling, summer only accommodation, tents, buying land or buildings, staff costs, soft furnishings, general repairs and contingency, and fixtures and fittings.

Camping bothy example

Am I eligible?

The accommodation must:

  • Be in Kent and within 5km of the North Downs Way National Trail.
  • Be available all year round, or between February and October as a minimum.
  • Cost no more than £40 per person, per night
  • Allow single night stays and offer single person stays.
  • Be granted planning permission, or have a Certificate of Lawfulness.

Your offer must:

  • Focus on walkers and riders, rather than car-driving weekenders.
  • Make reasonable provision for those with additional needs such as mobility, sight or hearing.
  • Show how it plugs a gap in the existing market, doesn’t compete with similar accommodation and is close to other services such as food and drink.
  • Have a low or positive landscape and visual impact on the surrounding countryside.

It won’t cover:

  • Construction you’ve already started.
  • Planning permission for a new structure will be the at the applicant’s expense.

Preference will be given to:

  • Applications that go over and above Statutory (DDA) Accessibility Requirements.
  • Accommodation offering secure storage for bikes and/or drying room for shoes/boots and clothes.
  • Applications from our EXPERIENCE Project match funding districts – Ashford, Canterbury, Dover and Gravesham.

Full guidance, terms and conditions can be found in the Grant Application Guidance.

North Downs Way Low Cost Accommodation Grant Application Guidance (DOCX, 680 KB)

How do I apply?

Please read the Grant Application Guidance before making an application.

North Downs Way Low Cost Accommodation Grant Application Guidance (DOCX, 680 KB)

You can contact Catherine Bradley to discuss your idea before applying.

You must fill in the application form, all annexes and supporting information. Then email them to Catherine Bradley using the following format in the subject of your email – ‘North Downs Way Low-cost Accommodation Application – applicants name’.

Please do not print and post the form. We’re not able to accept postal applications.

North Downs Way Low Cost Accommodation Grant Application Form (DOCX, 637 KB)

Scheme at a glance

  • Our aim is to increase the offer of new low-cost accommodation within 5km of the North Downs Way National Trail.
  • We have a total of £60,000 currently available. The maximum grant award will be £30,000 and the minimum amount awarded will be £3,000.
  • Applications will be considered on a first come first served basis until either all funding is allocated, or by Monday 31st August 2022.
  • You must apply by 31st August 2022.
  • Your project must be completed and claimed for by 31st January 2023. For example, construction completed, evidence provided, and a claim submitted.
  • Grant payment is dependent upon completion of the project and submission and acceptance of all evidence.
  • We will pay the beneficiary 100% of approved costs.
  • The beneficiary will pay 31% of approved costs by invoice to the North Downs Way National Trail.
  • As an example, if you apply for £10,000 for a camping barn. We will pay you £10,000 on completion, and you will be invoiced for £3,100.

Frequently asked questions

Will the grant fund yurts?

Yurts aren’t particularly suitable for the Kent Downs due to their lack of local distinctiveness, degree of permanence and pale colour which makes them stand out more in the landscape.  However, if the applicant can show their application meets the scheme guidance and objectives, and the siting, design and material colour has acceptable landscape impact then they will be considered.

Will the grant fund shepherd huts?

Single or dispersed individually sited low numbers of Shepherd huts will be considered if the applicant can show the design, materials, siting and colours are suitable for the landscape setting and meet the scheme guidance and objectives.

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