Centre for Rural Economy


Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) Network Market Research and Stakeholder Engagement Project

The Rural Development Programme for England (RDPE) was a six year funding programme (2007-2013) which would implement the EU Rural Development Regulation (RDR) in England.

Article 68(1) of the RDR stated that ‘each member state shall establish a national rural network which groups the organisations and administrations involved in rural development’. In the UK, there would be both a UK National Rural Network (UK NRN) and a network in each country (known as the RDPE Network in England). This project was specifically concerned with the RDPE Network.

Globe Regeneration and CRE were commissioned by the Commission for Rural Communities (tasked by Defra to act as the Network Unit to facilitate and co-ordinate the structures necessary for the establishment, development and operation of both the RDPE Network and the UK NRN) to build a body of knowledge and initial stakeholder engagement that:

scoped out the current RDPE priorities, programme management and implementation arrangements within each of the eight English regions;

through contacting stakeholders, developed the CRCs understanding of their needs and expectations of the RDPE Network and their implications for informing the structure and activities of the Network.

The project had two phases:

Phase 1: a desk-based study of the Regional Implementation Plans and other relevant documentation from each region to ascertain the priorities and management/implementation arrangements; telephone interviews with RDPE managers in the RDAs and Natural England/Forestry Commission in each region to clarify any uncertainties; a mapping exercise of the ‘rural development networks’ that operate nationally and regionally

Phase 2: telephone interviews with partner organisations and beneficiaries/ potential grant recipients in each region and questionnaires to beneficiaries/potential recipients (i.e. private and voluntary sector representatives) to ascertain e.g. their knowledge and level of contact with the RDPE to date, the services and activities that the RDPE Network should provide and their degree of interest in particularly in an advisory group; three focus groups with lead agencies and key stakeholders to discuss in detail the preferred structure and activities of the Network and how it might be successfully integrated with existing arrangements nationally and regionally.

The information collected in this project was used by the CRC and the RDPE Network Advisory Group to inform and help prioritise decisions around the future structures and Action Plan of activities of the Network. The project also helped identify future Advisory Group members and potential thematic and geographic good practice to be explored further.