Who We Are

The Rural Futures team combines years of practical hands on experience, supported by a breadth of knowledge across key rural areas of policy, assessing need, managing change and delivery.

John Welbank BSc, MRICS

John is one of the UK’s leading rural regeneration specialists. Trained as a chartered surveyor and after gaining experience in the private sector, John headed the national rural regeneration pilot “the Bowland Initiative”. Based on the success of this pilot, John developed “Lancashire Rural Futures (LRF)”, the UK’s largest specialist rural facilitation service. LRF provided business and environmental support to all of Lancashire’s rural business community and was accepted as an exemplar service at national and European level. In 2008 John, with his fellow directors, created Rural Futures (North West) Ltd., a specialist rural regeneration service targeting both the public and private sector.

John’s specialist expertise includes:

  • Rural regeneration
  • Planning & property management
  • Rural development funding
  • Climate change and renewable energy
  • Innovative environmental and economic delivery initiatives
  • European working

John Metcalfe BSc

With a background in farming and rural issues John is experienced working with National charitable organisations, and delivering business support to a wide range of private sector rural businesses across Cumbria and Lancashire. An expert in planning, John is also a mentor to third sector organisations and accredited as an advisor to the “Making Local Food Work” programme.

  • Farm business management
  • Research and consultancy services
  • Planning
  • Community development
  • Enterprise and employment development
  • Complex agri environmental delivery

John has acted as the co-ordinator for the NWDA “Step Ahead” programme and the Rural Facilitation Planning Service in the sub region.

Mary Miller BSc

A degree in agriculture and a lifetime in farming, Mary has a thorough appreciation of rural issues. Accountancy trained, Mary spent several years benchmarking the performance of farm businesses in the North West before becoming a highly successful business advisor, supporting the establishment, development and diversification of a wide range of rural businesses.

Mary has a particular expertise in financial analysis, business plan development and in drawing down funds from a variety of sources. Specialist interests in:

  • Financial systems
  • Funding
  • Farm business planning
  • Planning
  • Waste management
  • Agri environmental delivery
  • Renewable energy technologies


Rural Futures has a wide network of specialist associates who work on matters of policy, farming, tourism, spatial planning, detailed planning and design, environmental initiatives, ecology, wildlife surveys and training initiatives. Using the strengths of our team, combined with our associates we create a project team uniquely qualified for each challenge. The business structure created is 'fit for purpose' and offers best value for money for our clients.

Rural Futures - providing rural business support via, project planning and management, advising on RDPE and other grants, feasibility studies, business plans and planning advice. Specialists in public sector rural regeneration programme management, delivery, monitoring and evaluation to provide sustainable economic and environmental development including Entry Level (ELS), Upland Entry Level (UELS), Higher Level Stewardship (HLS) and Woodland Grant Schemes (WGS). . Experience in renewable energy, local food production, farm and rural business diversification, and community resource and social enterprise projects. Portfolio includes projects in Lancashire, Yorkshire, Cheshire, Cumbria, Gtr. Manchester and throughout the North West and the UK.