Business Improvement Districts

What is a Business Improvement District (BID)?

  • A partnership between a local authority and the local business community that develops and takes forward projects and services that benefit the trading environment and the public realm.
  • BIDs are an investment in the local trading environment through the provision of added value services.
  • A BID sits businesses and local authorities around the table as equal partners working toward common goals.

    Identifying what issues and drivers are important to various stakeholders must be done through consultation, engagement and securing their participation in the BID development process

Why are BIDs needed?

  • BIDs support the long-term sustainability of town and city centres.

    This support is needed because town and city centres have been under increasing pressure since the development of out of town shopping and the over-provision of retail space which resulted in boom and bust cycles of the 1980s.
  • BIDs enable town and city centres to approach the management of the trading environment / public space in a proactive and planned way allowing them to gain and retain competitive advantage over the (often high quality) managed environment in shopping centres.
  • BIDs can provide sustainable funding for town centre management functions enabling them to build on the successes they have already achieved.

    They also provide equality in ensuring that everyone who benefits shares the cost.
  • On industrial estates BIDs provide a vehicle for drawing together partnerships to improve the local environment and to tackle problems like poor transport links and inadequate security, all of which affect trade and staff retention.

Where can a BID be developed?

  • A BID can be developed in any business location (anywhere there are non-domestic rate payers)
  • A BID can be proposed by any non-domestic ratepayer, property owner, local authority or other key stakeholder with an interest in the BID area

Who pays for a BID?

  • Non-domestic rate payers within a BID area pay for the BID through a supplement in their rates bill.

    A BID proposal will state whether all rate payers will be charged or if the charge only applies to a particular group

How does an area become a BID?

  • Businesses will identify the area and the issues, and put together a proposal which should include delivery guarantees, performance indicators and management structure
  • BID proposals are voted on by the non-domestic rate payers who will be responsible for paying the BID levy.

    Businesses must vote in favour of a BID in order for it to be established
  • They vote in a postal ballot conducted by the local authority
  • A successful vote for a BID must meet two tests. More than 50% of votes cast must be in favour of the BID and the positive vote must represent more than 50% of the rateable value of the votes cast
  • A BIDs mandate is for a maximum of 5 years. A BID wishing to continue beyond 5 years must reaffirm their mandate through another ballot, based on a further proposal

How long does it take to develop a BID?

  • Experience shows that it takes 18 months to two years to develop a BID.

    The existence of an established partnership with a track record of delivery is the best asset when beginning to develop a BID.

    From the National Pilots it was those who could point to the successes of partnership working that were among the first BIDs

Do BIDs replace Town Centre Management?

  • BIDs can be established in any commercial area, not necessarily town centres, or where TCM schemes exist.

    The experience of the National Pilot Project is, however, that BIDs are likely to get off the ground more quickly where there is an established TCM initiative.

    BIDs cannot replace all the functions of town centre management.

    The latter takes a comprehensive approach to facilitating the improvement of town and city centres and giving them a competitive advantage.
  • Bids are mechanism for securing sustainable funding to deliver specific projects and services within a defined area in a specific time-frame.

    It may be that in smaller centres BIDs and town centre management can be combined, but for the majority of centres where a BID is established, there will still be a requirement for a strategic overview and involvement in the wider approach to town and city centre development that comes through TCM.

    The two main initiatives can work side-by-side and their activities should compliment one another. They will, of course, be funded from separate sources.
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