PARISH councils are being offered grants of up to £5,000 to help them produce local development plans under a new initiative to be announced today by the Countryside Agency.
Along with the cash, guidance will also be available on how to draw up blueprints for future developments that would boost a rural community's planning, economic and social environment.
Advice will be available in a new booklet called Parish Plans - guidance for parish and town councils will be available under the agency's Vital Villages project - along with cash assistance to employ consultants to draw up plans.
The scheme is to be announced today by Countryside Agency Richard Wakeford who says: "Parish plans enable local councils, including parish meetings, to demonstrate their leadership role as the first, not bottom, tier of local government."
For more information, log onto www.countryside.gov.uk/vitalvillages