Rural Community Broadband Fund

The £20m Fund is delivered as part of the Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE). The RCBF is jointly funded by Defra and Broadband Delivery UK (BDUK) and provides grants to communities to establish superfast broadband in hard-to-reach areas.

Communities in a rural location identified as being in the 10% hard to reach area which will get only standard broadband or partial superfast broadband coverage under our main Connecting Cheshire Programme. The main requirement of the projects is that there is clear community driven demand for superfast broadband.

In May this year Connecting Cheshire submitted applications for additional funding to help ‘hard to reach’ areas, referred to as the ‘final 10%’, gain faster broadband. This included a second round bid on behalf of Burleydam and Audlem and Expressions of Interest for the areas of Pulford and Poulton, Huxley, Arley, Wincle, Sutton and North Rode. This involved a huge community effort to help collate and demonstrate evidence of demand from both residents and businesses. Our application was approved and was taken forward into a single full bid submission in October.

The application is for £1.42m in funding, if successful, our application would deliver superfast fibre to the premise (FTTP) broadband to the eligible rural areas in Cheshire. An estimated minimum 790 homes and 174 businesses, across 196 postcode areas, will be able to access superfast broadband as a result. The project areas have been identified through further clarification of the Connecting Cheshire intervention area and via high levels of community demand (62%) in areas beyond the reach of the Connecting Cheshire programme area. The full application covered four locality areas:

  • Burleydam & Audlem
  • Arley & Antrobus
  • Huxley
  • Gawsworth, North Rode & Wincle

If successful this application would deliver a significant increase in bandwidth connectivity in areas that currently suffer from significant connectivity problems. The improvement in connectivity is an important element of the ongoing economic and social sustainability of these 75kbcommunities. The project will allow the majority of properties within the project area to access superfast broadband at speeds at least exceeding 24 Mbps, with an average in excess of 30 Mbps (download) – compared to a current average of 3.7 Mbps. It is intended that the project would enter into a partnership agreement with BT – the supplier identified through the Connecting Cheshire BDUK programme.

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