It’s a common misunderstanding that our Farm Team simply work with farmers and landowners across the North, managing assets, reviewing performance and securing government funding. Whilst agricultural does account for a large proportion of our work, our farm team have spent the last couple of years securing financial aid for rural businesses such as wedding venues and five-star accommodation, through to wildlife parks, and most recently, artisan cafés…
The Running Fox is an award winning, artisan café with sites nestled in the picturesque Northumberland villages, Felton and Longframlington. Thanks to a cunning business model, the café has expanded to a third premises, in the rural village of Shilbottle.
Kris Blackburn is the brain child behind this extremely successful enterprise. Back in 2011, it was Kris’ dream (and mission!) to bring the luxury of fresh artisan bakes to those living in rural areas, as well as using her business as a platform for small local producers to market their products. When the opportunity arose to take on the local newsagents in Felton, she jumped, making her dream a reality. Eight years on, and two additional Running Fox sites later, her ethos remains the same, providing for and supporting the local community.
In order to fund her most recent expansion into the village of Shilbottle, Kris contacted our team as she’d previously worked with us to secure planning permission for the development of the Felton premises. Of course, we were delighted to take on the project and it quickly became apparent that the project fit into the criteria for the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE); a programme created to fund projects that create jobs and growth the rural economy.
Rhys Jones, worked with Kris on the project, and said “Kris has a truly outstanding business model, she uses her business to breathe new life into quiet rural villages. I’m really glad she gave us a call as there was clearly a need for her business to expand. However, there was, and still is, a great need for local business expansion within rural communities in order to increase the economy through job creation and tourism.”
Thanks to our teams hard work and determination, £45,000 was secured in late 2018, meaning that Kris and her team could move forward with the structural and design work required to achieve completion by Spring 2019.
In order to qualify for financial aid through the RDPE, a candidate must demonstrate how they’ll use funding to develop the local economy. Speaking about how her business has progressed over the years, Kris said: “We could never have expected the reaction we received when we opened the Running Fox in Felton; on the day we opened, there was actually a queue up the street, we couldn’t believe it! Over the years, we’ve not only been busy with the local community but we’ve seen a huge proportion of customers that’ve travelled from outside the area. We expanded two years ago into Longframlington to keep up with demand, however, both branches are now running at capacity and we’re unfortunately turning away customers. Opening a new, and bigger site, is very exciting for us as it gives us the opportunity to further innovate the business whilst economically and culturally benefiting the village and surrounding area.”
The Running Fox in Shilbottle offers seating for 50 visitors, not only solving the issue of overflow in Felton and Longframlinton, but offering a community hub. There’ll also be a retail area stocking local produce such as Chainbridge Honey and Bari Tea as well the creation of five full time jobs with further part time job creation over peak seasons. Whilst speaking about the ways in which the expansion will support rural development, Rhys said: “Improving tourism is a really effective way of increasing an area’s economic resilience; given Kris and her team have seen an influx of visitors from outside the area in both Felton and Longframlington, the new Running Fox promises development and stability for the village.”
If you’re looking to launch, expand or diversify your rural business and need advice on any possible funding opportunities, please contact your local office.