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. The 2019 Landscapes Review, led by Julian Glover, called on the government to ensure our national landscapes could be enjoyed by a more diverse audience.

In response, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) 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 National Landscape 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 also received Defra Access for All funding in 2022/23, which supported some 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 funding guidance, eligibility criteria and application form are further down this page.

2024-25 Defra Access Funding Expression of Interest Form

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 Chilterns Access Projects 2024-25 Guidance Notes and Eligibility.

How to apply and project criteria

We are now seeking applications for the 2024/25 Defra access funding. We would advise emailing Annette with an outline of your idea initially.

If you would like to discuss your project or the Defra grant programme at any stage, please contact Annette.

2024 -25 Application Form for Defra Access funding
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Accessible Chilterns

The Chilterns National Landscape is renowned for its stunning countryside, picturesque villages and diverse wildlife. Accessibility is a key focus to ensure that everyone can enjoy its natural treasures.

Examples of Defra Access for All projects funded in 2022/23

A group of people posing in front of an elecrtic vehicleChiltern 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

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 installed several new mobility scooter and buggy-friendly gates. The changes 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

A photograph of workmen installing a disabled toilet at Chilterns Open Air MuseumThis 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

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.

A group of people smiling and wearing high visibility vests about to go on a woodland walk at Brush Hill Nature ReserveBUDS, 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.

A photo of people working outside along a towpath wearing high visibility jacketsThe grant contributed to resurfacing a stretch of the Wendover Canal towpath, providing greatly improved accessibility for local communities, especially those with limited mobility.



Widening the Welcome workshop presentations

A Widening the Welcome workshop was held in September 2023 focussing specifically on how to make visiting the Chilterns more accessible and inclusive. Over 55 organisations attended, representing a cross section of organisations from the countryside, conservation and tourism sectors. Together we shared learning and experiences, listened to presentations on a variety of access-based themes and were inspired by some of the fantastic work already taking place. See and download the presentations below:

Ross Calladine, disability and access ambassador, Visit England: The national tourism picture.

Val Woods, Natural England: About the Centre for Outdoor Accessibility Training.

Professor Gurch Randhawa, University of Bedfordshire Institute for Health Research: Co-creating solutions with diverse communities.

Neil Harris, National Trust: Accessibility and inclusivity in the Chilterns.

Lucy Dowson, Visit Buckinghamshire: Bucks Accessibility Hub.

Mary Tebje, Chilterns Tourism Network: Birds-eye view of (potential) partners, funders, communication opportunities, challenges and workshop ideas.

The national tourism picture (Ross Calladine)
About the Centre for Outdoor Accessibility Training (Val Woods)
Co-creating solutions with diverse communities (Prof. Gurch Randhawa)
Accessibility and inclusivity in the Chilterns (Neil Harris)
Bucks Accessibility Hub (Lucy Dowson)
Workshop notes and ideas (Mary Tebje)

Meet the team

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Annette Weiss

Role: Head of Engagement and Partnerships

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