What is the Community Investment Fund?

The Community Investment Fund forms part of the Connect – Invest – Transform Investment Plan. This capital fund aims to support community, sporting and interest groups to progress a capital project that meets community needs whilst aligning with the principles in the council's Corporate Plan, Investment Plan and Lisburn and Castlereagh Community Plan as detailed below.

We have agreed to a roll out the Community Investment Fund, following completion of two pilot phases in order to further connect with local communities and explore opportunities for balanced investment based on evidenced need at a local level across all our seven District Electoral Areas (DEAs).

Community and voluntary organisations in the Lisburn and Castlereagh area can apply for a grant of up to £350,000 from this capital funding stream. 

An application can be submitted for an amount between £150,000 and £350,000 although match funding of no less than 50% must also be secured for the capital project in question. 

Community Plan

Investment Plan

What do we want to achieve with the Community Investment Fund?

We want to invest in our communities, provide a catalyst for growth, and act as a stimulus for wider neighbourhood regeneration. This means we will consider funding new buildings, improvements to existing buildings and open space projects.

This fund aims to seek a partner(s) who will deliver against the principles of the Corporate Plan, Investment Plan and Lisburn and Castlereagh Community Plan, whilst providing invaluable feedback on the fund and related processes and milestones. The learning captured from the pilot funds has helped to shape the roll out of the wider fund which will also seek applications for balanced investment based on evidenced need across all seven DEAs (where possible).

How much is available?

Applicants are also required to identify and evidence at least 50% match funding resources that will need to be secured no later than twelve months from date of letter of offer in principle.
The Community Investment Fund seeks application requests for up to a maximum of £350,000 and a minimum of £150,000 per application.

How do I apply?

Groups who are interested in proposing a project for consideration under the Community Investment Fund should complete our online application form.

The deadline is 4pm on Wednesday 1 May 2024.

Timeline for the application process

Date  Activity
Thursday 28 March 2024 Open call for application form submissions 
Wednesday 1 May 2024 Closing date for application form submissions 
w/c Monday 6 May 2024 Assessment of application form submissions 
Tuesday 4 June 2024 Recommendations from the application call presented to council for approval
June/July 2024  Notification to applicants re: outcome following ratification by full council

Information workshops

There will be three information workshops held for anyone interested in applying for this fund to provide further advice and guidance.  The dates and locations are as follows:

  • Monday 8 April at 6pm in the Chestnut Suite, Lagan Valley Island, Lisburn 
  • Wednesday 10 April at 12.30pm via Teams.  Click here to join the meeting
  • Wednesday 10 April at 6pm in the Board Room, Lough Moss Leisure Centre, Carryduff

Does an outline business case, feasibility study or economic appraisal need to be completed for the project by application form submission stage?

No. For those applications that are successful, an outline business case, feasibility study or economic appraisal as well as comprehensive due diligence processes will need to be completed as directed by the council in line with stipulations contained in the letter of offer in principle.

What projects are eligible? 

This is a capital funding stream which will only fund capital projects which are not owned and managed directly by the council.

Applicants should note that the fund will support capital projects on council land and other statutory owned land as long as the relevant security of tenure is secured.

Projects must be located within the Lisburn and Castlereagh area.

We will not fund revenue costs associated with developing the project or sustaining the planned outcomes.  

We are looking for schemes which will address community and/or sports benefits for a community led regeneration project. The project must align with the principles laid out in the council’s Corporate Plan, Investment Plan and Lisburn and Castlereagh Community Plan.

What groups are eligible for funding?

Groups can apply for funding from the pilot Community Investment Fund, if they are:

  • a formally constituted voluntary or community group
  • a registered charity
  • a community interest company
  • a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee
  • a social enterprise
  • other statutory agencies where the we have a partnership arrangement
  • groups who have an open and accountable governing document, applicable to the principles within the fund

We will not fund individuals, sole traders or profit-making organisations.

Can a group apply for more than one project under the programme?

No, only one application can be received from each organisation and an organisation as part of a Consortia can also only place one application bid. 

Groups who have been successful in either of the initial 2 pilot phases are NOT eligible to apply.

Can projects be 100% funded through the Community Investment Fund?

No. There is a requirement for match funding to be secured of no less than 50%.

A further requirement of the fund is that all match funding required to complete the project should be secured within 12 months of a letter of offer in principle being issued.

Programme criteria - what we will and will not fund

We will fund (not exhaustive):

  • building and engineering works (e.g. new build, facility repurposing/development, extension, refurbishment, modernisation or conversion) required for the delivery of the project
  •  purchase of fixtures and fittings in line with the capital project requirements
  • purchase of plant and equipment necessary for running the project
  • professional fees associated with capital spending on your project, including project management and legal fees

We will not fund (not exhaustive):

  • purchase of land or buildings
  • any costs which someone else is paying for, whether in cash or in kind
  • routine repairs and maintenance to buildings
  • general improvements to public areas unless they are essential to the project
  • personal equipment not essential to running the project
  • maintenance equipment, fixed or loose equipment or office equipment which is not essential to the project
  • transport that is necessary for delivering the project
  • the purchase of a leasehold that has less than the projected life of the asset
  • running costs for the building after the project is finished
  • funds to build up a reserve or surplus, whether distributable or not
  • loan repayments
  • contributions to general appeals

What criteria will we use to assess project applications?

All projects will be required to complete a Community Investment Fund application form.

Projects will be assessed against 5 criteria – eligibility, affordability, feasibility deliverability and sustainability.

Eligible projects will be assessed against a prioritisation matrix based on the above criteria where they will have to reach a minimum threshold score as detailed below.

Project eligibility – if applicants do not meet the project eligibility criteria the application will be deemed to be unsuccessful and no further scoring will be recorded.

Prioritisation scoring matrix – Project assessment on:

Affordability (25 marks)

Estimated total cost, CIF funding request, and match funding identified or secured to date.

Feasibility (25 marks)

What needs are being met, how these were identified, key beneficiaries, key outputs and outcomes, strategic fit to council outcomes – Community plan, 10 year Investment Plan, fit with any other strategic plans. 

Deliverability (25 marks)

Details of location, which DEA the site is in, ownership of site, security of tenure, planning in place or applied, have any feasibility studies/appraisals been completed.

Evidence of equality of opportunity and good relations in the development.

Evidence of a project delivery plan including dedicated resources e.g. project board with key milestones.

Sustainability (25 marks)

How will the asset be managed and sustained once completed and operational, project management experience and skills within the organisation, and other key risks identified and mitigated against.

Projects must score a minimum project threshold of 70 marks out of 100 in order to be successful and will be ranked according to individual scores.

The successful Community Investment Fund project(s) must commit to provision of feedback to us as part of a model of co-design to capture learning, key monitoring, milestones and good practice to further the roll out of the Community Investment Fund at a future date.  This may include attendance at council facilitated workshops and/or meetings as part of the dissemination of key project information.  We will also seek agreement with the successful group for council to use agreed information for use in future PR material.

Following the issue of a letter of offer in principle a due diligence process will commence with successful partners to release the Fund, but it should be noted that no award will be made until a comprehensive due diligence appraised business case and related legislative elements are closed out.

NB. Funding will ONLY be available to groups based in our area that meet the above criteria.

Application process

Before applying, please check that:

  • your organisation is eligible to apply
  • your application meets the priorities of this fund
  • you have completed every question on your application form
  • you can provide all the information we ask for as part of the application process in the allocated timeframe

Once your application is received, we will:

  • perform an eligibility check on your application and then assess it against the key themes of the grant, as highlighted in the PROGRAMME CRITERIA section above
  • contact you with questions should we need to, so please keep a copy of your application form for your reference
  • not assess your application if it is incomplete

If your project is successful, we will:

  • invite you to submit an outline business case that will build on any initial business case/feasibility study submission but will be aligned to our Accounting Manual and procurement process.  A template will be supplied to you as part of our due diligence framework

Summary of process for Community Investment Fund:

  • application and project approval (Letter of Offer ‘in principle’)
  • submission of outline business case and related legislative documents
  • due diligence & governance review
  • implementation of process (Letter of Offer)
  • monitoring & evaluation

If your application is unsuccessful, we will:

  • contact you by email informing you of the reasons why your application has not been successful, for which there is no right of appeal

We request the successful applicant submit relevant promotional material of their project to share on our social media platforms.