DEFRA Access for All funding

DEFRA Access for All funding

Protected landscapes like the Chilterns make an important contribution to people’s enjoyment of the countryside, and their health and wellbeing. In 2019, the Landscapes Review, led by Julian Glover, called on the government to ensure our national landscapes could be enjoyed by a much more diverse audience.

In response, DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) allocated £14.5 million towards making protected landscapes, National Trails, forests and the wider countryside more accessible for people of all ages, abilities and needs. As part of this,  the Chilterns Conservation Board (CCB) will receive additional funding of £261,480 from Defra in 2024/25, for capital spend to make our protected landscapes more accessible to people of all ages and abilities and from all backgrounds. We received Defra Access for all funding in 2022/23 too, which supported some really excellent projects, see below for examples of the work we funded and the impact it’s having.

We are now seeking ideas and expressions of interest for potential projects in 2024/25 and would love to hear from you! The eligibility criteria are the same for the 2024/25 funding, as set out in the guidance note further down this page.

Limited mobility needn’t mean missing out. Across the AONB, there are sites and paths suitable for people with different needs.

Read more

About the Access funding and how to apply

The Access for All funding is for physical and digital infrastructure improvements to make the Chilterns more accessible for people of all ages and abilities and from all socio-economic backgrounds. It is part of a wider government initiative to make all protected landscapes ‘places for everyone.’

Projects must improve public access to and within the protected landscape and should serve the broader interests of the Grant Recipient and their communities. For project eligibility see Guidance note below.

How to apply and Project criteria

We are now accepting Expressions of Interest for the 2024/25 Defra access funding. Grant payments can only be made after 1st April 2024 and granted funded work MUST be delivered and paid for by 31 March 2025.

Once we have received your EOI and had a chance to review and discuss with you (if required), you can then submit a full application.

Deadline for full applications is 31 May 2024.

If you would like to discuss your project or the Defra grant programme at any stage I would be happy to hear from you, contact Annette

Expression of Interest Form
Guidance notes and Application Form
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Widening the Welcome in the Chilterns – workshop

We will be holding a workshop on Monday 25 September at Missenden Abbey 9.30 to 1pm, involving partners, stakeholders and community groups with an interest in improving Chilterns accessibility and making the countryside more inclusive. It will be aimed at those involved in countryside access provision in the Chilterns, and the leisure and tourism sector. We will draw on best practice case studies and it will be a chance to look at collaborative opportunities across the Chilterns, and discuss priorities and ideas for the Access funding.

Further details and BOOKING HERE

To find out more please contact Annette

Defra Access for All projects funded in 2022/23

Here are just a few examples of some of the projects we funded in 2022 and 2023

“Evie” the Electric Car

Chiltern Rangers CIC bought a seven-seat electric car and tools with their grant, with flexible seat configuration options. This will help them get 200-300 more volunteers each year into caring for nature reserves and habitats in the Chilterns, including young people with special needs, people with dementia, and those without their own transport.


“We can pick people up from central High Wycombe locations like the Rye Lido or the train station for Green Thursday volunteer group. Dozens of groups and schools will benefit.”

John Shaw, Managing Director

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DEFRA Access Funding - Chiltern Rangers in front of their new Electric vehicle - Evie

Tramp around College Lake Nature Reserve

Home to around 1000 wildlife species, College Lake is a wonderful place to spot water birds, butterflies and orchids. BBOWT (Berks, Bucks and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust) will purchase two new tramper mobility vehicles which can be borrowed by anyone visiting the reserve. The Trust also resurfaced 200m2 of path and installing several new, mobility scooter and buggy-friendly gates. The improvements are improving the experience for visitors with limited mobility and likely to attract more people.

“We are so pleased to be making these upgrades which mean that more people than ever will be able to come and see what an extraordinary place College Lake is. At BBOWT we believe that people need to see nature to be inspired by it and take action to help it – but spending time in nature is also good for our physical and mental health, so this project really is a win for everyone in our community.”

Mark Vallance, Buckinghamshire Land Manager

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A disabled loo for Chiltern Open Air Museum

This fantastic rural museum has 37 historical buildings set in 45 acres of gardens. The museum already has all-terrain wheelchairs to borrow, sensory backpacks for autistic visitors, hearing loops and a popular programme of accompanied walks combatting social isolation. Their grant funded a much-needed upgrade to their existing accessible toilet provision.


“We are very grateful for our Chilterns Access Grant.  The new accessible toilet facility will improve the visitor experience for our guests with impaired mobility and encourage others to come in the first place.” 

Gill Whitehead, Fundraising Officer 

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DEFRA Access Funding - A new accessible toilet for Chiltern Open Air Museum

Innovations in Countryside Access

The Centre for Outdoor Accessibility Training at Aston Rowant Nature Reserve is England’s first national centre for specialised countryside access. They received a grant to buy state-of-the-art off-road mobility vehicles for rough terrain: a terrain hopper, a mountain trike, an e-trike and a Trekinetic wheelchair. They will provide training promoting the British Standard for Gates, Gaps and Stiles to parish councillors, rights of way volunteers, local highway staff, countryside managers and landowners. They will demonstrate the best standards of countryside access for people of all abilities, and how to use the many designs of gates on their “obstacle course” for off-road mobility vehicles.

“We are really excited to be able to use this fantastic new equipment to promote countryside access so everyone can enjoy nature.” 

Val Woods, National Land Access Centre Lead.

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Access surveys in the Buckinghamshire Chilterns

BUDS – Buckinghamshire Disability Service – carried out access surveys at four popular countryside sites – Whiteleaf Hill, Brush Hill, Aston Rowant Nature Reserve and Captain’s Wood – with a view to improving online access information about these sites and advising the site managers on future accessibility improvements.

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DEFRA Access Funding - BuDS Accessibiity and Disability survey at Brush Hill Nature Reserve

Wendover Canal towpath improvements

The grant contributed to resurfacing a stretch of the Wendover Canal towpath, providing greatly improved accessibility for local communities, especially those with limited mobility.

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DEFRA Access Funding - Wendover Canal Trust Feb 2023 visit Little Tring

Meet the team

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Annette Weiss

Role: Head of Engagement and Partnerships
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Outstanding Chilterns Magazine

Jam-packed with news and updates from the AONB, now available to read online or find out where to get a printed copy.
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Volunteering hub

Find out more about volunteering in the Chilterns - indoor, outdoor, practical or desk based there's something for everyone, whatever age or stage! Use our interactive volunteering hub to find the perfect opportunity for you.