Archive for March, 2016

BID Insight: March 2016

Tuesday, March 29th, 2016
Ballot results

Following the bumper crop of ballot results in February, a further three BID results are due in March, including two developing BIDs in Belfast (Cathedral) and Newmarket. Look out for British BIDs ballot watch for the final results.

Budget Report

Business rates reforms at last, but still structural issues remain unresolved

George Osborne’s budget on 16 March received a fairly tepid response from the industry, particularly with regard to the announcement of business rates reforms following a 27 month review.

Despite welcome acknowledgement that the system needs changing, the lack of urgency to address structural inequalities in the business rates system, particularly for bricks and mortar retailers and service providers, will have left many frustrated.

For BIDs, the heavy burden of business rates is often one of the greatest complaints of their members. Despite BIDs positioning the levy as a separate charge over which businesses have control, for several levy payers it is still regarded as a ‘business rates top-up’ and it can be difficult to disassociate the BID levy from the negative associations that can surround this.

The move to index business rates by CPI and to have more frequent revaluations has been welcomed, as this will allow business rates to more closely reflect the economic climate. Many BIDs that fixed their levy to the 2010 revaluation at their last renewal ballot found their levies increase considerably, but against a backdrop of significant consternation from their members at the steep rise in business rates that had accompanied the revaluation. In one case, this prompted an alternation ballot to adjust the BID levy down to something that members felt was a more reasonable charge.

The expansion of small business rates relief, doubling existing relief from 50% to 100% and increasing the threshold to £12,000 rateable value below which businesses pay no rates at all and further tapered relief up to £15,000, will have also been welcome news to many BID members. This will put some BIDs in an interesting position with regard to how they handle levies for their smaller members. There is no reason why a BID levy cannot still apply, regardless of the rates relief enjoyed by a business. However, given the tendency of some levy payers, as referenced above, to associate the BID levy with business rates, there may be greater pressure on BIDs to look at discounting or even exempting smaller businesses from the BID levy.

The planned devolution of business rates remains of considerable interest to BIDs. However, the likely implications of this are still to a large extent speculative. If the incentive of 100% retention of rates actually works, there will be increased receipts for BIDs through increased RVs in their area. However, what is certainly clear is the concern of local authorities that the savings to businesses from the proposed reductions to business rates will simply translate into further reductions to their own income when they are allowed to retain receipts from the business rates they charge by 2020. From a BID perspective, this could mean ever increasing pressure to step in to fill Council shortfalls in service provision.

We will be following this issue closely as it develops and reporting back in future editions of Insight.

Business incubators and BIDs

Moving beyond green, clean and safe

As the BID industry matures and begins to evolve its remit beyond a more traditional ‘green, clean and safe’ focus, we take a look at two BIDs that have delivered innovative projects in their areas through the provision of incubator space for small and start-up businesses.

Winchester BID was a winner of a British BIDs Proud Project award in 2016 for its delivery of the Winchester Business Centre, which was launched to encourage entrepreneurship in the BID area. The project originated from a need for the BID to consider moving office space when the lease came up on their original premises, which prompted the decision to refurbish the existing BID offices and provide hot-desking facilities for small enterprises within the town.

In addition to providing an income stream for the BID, the benefits to the BID have been considerable. Catherine Turness, Executive Director of the Winchester BID, said: ‘The Business Centre has given us access to a broad and interesting range of local businesses. Links with them and their networks has established good links with the local business community and collaborations between the businesses themselves. Three of our tenants have gone on to become levy paying businesses in the area.’

Catherine believes that the Business Centre is an example of the growing importance of the sharing economy to town centre areas, where increasingly there is a need to share resources and collaborate in the use of space to diversify the offer.

This example mirrors that of the Camden Collective, a branch of Camden Town Unlimited, which has now developed its fourth incubator space in the area. Its very first incubator at 37 Camden High Street had a flexible area that was a business space by day, but which could be adapted into an events space by night, broadening exposure to businesses that used the space and enlivening the premises at different times of day.

Following the development of three highly successful incubators in Camden, the Collective has now gone on to develop its latest venture at the Temperance Hospital near Euston, which has space for up to 200 business people.

In addition to free hot-desking space, the building also has some lockable and chargeable space, which part-subsidises the rest of the facility. This is a departure from the early incubators, which offered exclusively free desk space in exchange for 2 hours per month of community pay-back, such as through the provision of specialist advice or support at events.

Like the Winchester BID, Camden Town Unlimited is clear that there are no down-sides to the BID’s involvement in this initiative. There is scope to link the BID members to a pool of talented young start-ups, boost the local economy and increase the reach of the BID to new audiences. By taking on the lease at the facilities, the BID has also had the opportunity to decide who to pass the lease onto at the end of the project, in turn curating the local tenant mix.

Simon Pitkeathley, Chief Executive of Camden Town Unlimited, said: “The benefit of Collective isn’t just felt by the start-ups we support. Our business members appreciate the pool of talent attracting footfall, promoting the area and boosting the local economy. The project is a breath of fresh air for Camden Town.”


Research, policy and comment

The Communities Secretary, Greg Clark, has announced that the 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships will be able to apply for a share of £1.8bn to support their local areas in the latest round of Growth Deals. The money forms part of the government’s £12 billion Local Growth Fund, of which £7.7bn has already been allocated to more than 900 projects across England, from infrastructure schemes to skills and jobs initiatives. A key part of the devolution agenda, the Growth Deals are being billed as an opportunity for local areas to promote inward investment.

This month saw the launch of Future of London/Rocket Science report commissioned by the GLA and the London LEP to assess the impact and potential of London BIDs in a fast-changing municipal environment. The report is called ‘The Evolution of London’s Business Improvement Districts’ and charts the progress made by BID areas in comparison to those areas that do not yet have one. It also highlights the growing influence of BIDs in a climate of reduced public funding, whilst also acknowledging the increased accountability that this influence and engagement brings.

BIDs In the news

Following the flurry of coverage of BID ballot results in February, the pace has slowed slightly in March. However, we have seen positive coverage of the successful BID result for Pontypridd and Hammersmith as well as of the new BID Proposals for Poole and a trailer for BID ballot in Barrow.

You can also view an Estates Gazette article and podcast interview with Kay Buxton about new BID for Marble Arch.

Dates for your diary

The next Marketing Forum (free to Bb members) is scheduled for 25 May. The next Management and Operations Forum (free to Bb members is scheduled for 6 July.

A 25% discount for Bb members is offered for all the following events: Developing and Renewing a BID – 28 April; Setting up and monitoring a BID (session aimed at local authority officers and members) – 16 June; Business communications masterclass (B2B, LinkedIn) – 22 June; Developing and Renewing a BID – 29 June

Bb members 3 for 2 offer on training courses

British BIDs is offering 1 course free when you book 2. It can be 3 different people from the same BID or the same person from the BID to attend all 3. Please confirm your two bookings with British BIDs and you will be given the 3rd of your choice.


The Fitzrovia Partnership improve air quality on Tottenham Court Road during Cleaner Air Action Fortnight

Tuesday, March 15th, 2016

The Fitzrovia Partnership is the first Business Improvement District (BID) in the UK to install Air Purification Units into the public realm.

This installation launches next Wednesday 16/03/16. This unique work is a collaboration between The Fitzrovia Partnership, urban greening specialists Treebox, Mace Construction and Exemplar. Photo Opportunity – Wednesday 16th March 2016, 10:00 – 10:30. – 1 Bedford Ave, London, W1T 7RB Air quality in Central London is amongst the most polluted in the UK. As a direct response to air quality issues and as part of The Partnership’s commitment to improving and maintaining the local public realm, The BID has partnered with local stakeholders to bring a healthy and beautiful burst of green to ‘The Avenue’ development on Tottenham Court Road.

The first of these purification units, along with an information panel, was installed on Saturday, 5 March during Cleaner Air Action Fortnight delivered by Global Action Plan, the UK’s leading environmental behaviour change charity. The unit is a trial that will run until July 2017, in affiliation with Treebox, Mace Construction and Exemplar.

The Avenue development, by award winning London developers Exemplar, in partnership with Ashby Capital and The Bedford Estate, will comprise 70,000 sq. ft. of office space together with 14,000 sq. ft. of new retail accommodation, all built to high environmental standards. Construction is underway and due for completion in spring 2017 and these APUs will be used throughout this period.

Supported with match funding from the Mayor’s Air Quality Fund, the installation is the first of many micro greening sites to be delivered by The Fitzrovia Partnership in an effort to breathe clean air back into London’s streets.

The Fitzrovia Partnership BID Manager Lee Lyons said:

“We are very excited to be the first Business Improvement District in the country to pilot such innovative technology to support the Mayor’s agenda for cleaner air in London. The Fitzrovia Partnership is committed to working with our members to find unique and pioneering ways in leading the way for improved air quality and greener public realm initiatives for the benefit of the city”.

Although trees and shrubs have been a traditional method of capturing and breaking down pollutants; trying to integrate more gardens into our streets whilst competing with pavement space and subsurface services, remains an ongoing challenge within the city.

Air purification units – or APUs for short — are powered by AEROGATION™ Active Green Wall system – this unique system removes the dirty air from the streets & passes it through the roots of the plants this removes all of the contaminants as well as pollen & dust.

The Avenue, Tottenham Court Road installation represents a 4 square metre area which can produce up to 2 million litres of purified air every 24 hours.

Andrew Kinsey, Head of Sustainability for Mace Construction, said:

“Our Tottenham Court Road construction site is the first anywhere in London to host these APUs, and we are delighted to be able to play a key part in improving air quality for London. We are delighted to support The Fitzrovia Partnership, the local community and The Mayor of London in meeting the city’s cleaner and greener objectives” “It’s great to be able to pilot and integrate something innovative like this into our working environment. Not only will it help to improve the air quality for our workers and the public, it also sends out a strong message of what we can do to make a difference and address the key issue of pollution.”

The Mayor’s £20 million Air Quality Fund (MAQF) has supported bold pollution-busting projects across the capital over the past three years. Last month, he announced projects across 28 boroughs which will benefit from a share of £5 million from his fund, including the Air Purification Units at The Fitzrovia Partnership.

Matthew Pencharz, Deputy Mayor for Environment, said:

“Protecting the well-being of Londoners is vital and projects such as this, coupled with the Mayor’s plans for the world’s first Ultra-Low Emission Zone in 2020, are part of the bold measures we need to win London’s air quality battle.”

These installations are the first adopters of a larger vision to establish 10,000 APUs across London in the next three years. Current research being conducted by Staffordshire University will soon be published to reveal just how efficient the system is in combatting particulate matter (PM) levels and nitrogen dioxide (NO2) emissions.

The aim is to roll out APUs to other locations within Fitzrovia over the course of the year in partnership with Treebox, to help achieve the 10,000 vision. Sites will include tube frontages, phone boxes and railings to provide the best coverage of the most polluted pockets in the area in order to make a tangible difference in improving local air quality.


Monday, March 14th, 2016