Sustainable Development Fund

The Sustainable Development Fund is available to a variety of local community and conservation organisations (or individuals) to support projects for the conservation and enhancement of the natural beauty of the Dedham Vale Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

There is an annual application process.The Sustainable Development Fund is a fund provided by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) to enable local communities and other organisations to make a difference in AONBs by promoting and achieving sustainable development, partnership, and social inclusion.

The AONB manages the Fund and works with local organisations to encourage project development and applications.

These projects focus on integrating the environment, local communities, and the economy so that the unique landscape of the AONB is conserved and its natural beauty enhanced, making it more enjoyable for all.

We usually have £30,000 in the fund to award each year and can award up to 70% of project costs. Organisations who are seeking a grant up to/in the region of £500 can apply for 100% of the total project costs.

This is intended to support small projects and grassroots organisations where finding match funding would be prohibitive to delivering important local conservation.

The Sustainable Development Fund is now open for a second round of applications to be received by 28th September 2021. There is currently £6,670 available to community projects which should be delivered and completed between end of October 2021 and mid-March 2022

Sustainable Development Fund Case Studies

St Mary’s Church, East Bergholt

For the 2021-22 funding year, St Mary’s Church in East Bergholt has been awarded £3,000 to support the placement of a freestanding digital screen inside the church to educate tourists, members of the local community, and school children about the Grade 1 listed medieval church, and unique bell cage.

St Mary’s Church is centred in East Bergholt which lies within the Dedham Vale AONB.  It is a medieval church with an interesting history, and a significant connection to the artist John Constable and his family.

Photo credit: National Trust / Trevor Ray Hart

National Trust Flatford: Valley Farm Kitchen Garden

For the 2021-22 funding year, National Trust Flatford have been awarded £2,210 for their Valley Farm Kitchen Garden – Grow it Wild Children’s Project.


The aim of the project is to engage with local primary schools, enabling children to participate in gardening sessions at Valley Farm Kitchen Garden.

The main objective is to utilise food growing to teach children about soil, nutrition, science, and life cycles.

The Sustainable Development Fund is open to applications from across the Dedham Vale AONB, which are outlined and highlighted on Google Maps.

For information and advice about the Sustainable Development Fund please contact AONB Grants Officer Oka Last at Dedham Vale AONB for an informal discussion, on 01473 265558 or by email.