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National BIDs Conference 2021


On 4th November 2021, we held our National BIDs Conference at the iconic Leadenhall Building in London. After last year’s conference taking place virtually due to Covid-19 restrictions, it was fantastic to get the industry together for a day of learning and networking. We hope you enjoyed the day! 

Our three themes at the conference were: economic recovery & what this means for BIDs; sustainability; and repurposing our places.

We had nine speakers covering all these areas and giving valuable insight into BID projects, what we expect the future to look like for our towns and cities, and so much more. Below you can find a short recap from each session. 

Economic recovery & what this means for BIDs

Kickstarting this session was expert economist Vicky Pryce, followed by writer and broadcaster Paul Mason delivering fascinating insights into the current trends, from a global perspective to our local high streets.

Both speakers acknowledged the financial impacts of Covid-19. Whilst there are obvious negatives over the last 18 months, Vicky and Paul indicated that opportunities have presented themselves as a result. Globally, trade has not only recovered but is increasing from pre-pandemic levels, brought on by factors such as a vast increase in levels of e-commerce. However, Paul Mason’s analogy of ‘Planet High Street vs the Asteroids’ would indicate that there is little time to enjoy the increase due to the incoming global supply chain issues.

Vicky and Paul concurred that the global supply chain issues will place significant strain on world trade. As one of Paul’s ‘asteroids’, supply issues will impact our high streets, driven by factors such as Brexit and China’s production system. This does not seem to have hugely affected commuter and market towns, that have been generally positively impacted by the pandemic. The last 18 months have changed the attitudes people have towards work, coming into a city fewer days a week, but spending more on average. And realising that the office can be a ‘stage’ for employees to show how hard they are working.

Vicky Pryce also covered the issue of COP26, stating that the real estate industry will need to reduce their emissions by 52% to reach the net zero objective, in which BIDs will have a significant role to play. 

Sustainability
For the world to be serious about sustainability, we must all take measures, big or small, to embed sustainable practices into our day-to-day lives. During this session we heard from three expert speakers on what can and should be done to help the movement towards a cleaner, greener and more sustainable future in our town and city centres. Will Dyson at New West End Company and Livia Caruso from Hammersmith BID presented a number of great initiatives that they have already been undertaking to share and inspire more BIDs, and we also heard from Oliver Wayman from BOTTLETOP on the behavioural changes companies need to invest in to embrace renewable energy solutions.

Here’s some useful tips and insight from the session at the conference:

  • Understand what your BID members want to focus on and what your local consumers care about. This is a useful and crucial starting point in building a sustainable action plan or green public realm vision, as seen by New West End Company and Hammersmith BID.
  • Set up a sustainability steering group in your BID area.
  • Look at your internal, operational practices and where you can be more sustainable to lead by example to your BID members.
  • Be realistic in what you can achieve and set short and long term goals to set expectations amongst your levy payers.
  • Collaborate with local stakeholders to achieve projects in partnership.
  • Don’t be afraid to be creative! Drive the message and awareness through social campaigns.

With sustainability being such a huge topic of the day, we took the opportunity to show everyone in the room the Earth to COP video. If you haven’t yet seen it, please take a look here.

Repurposing our places
To cover our Repurposing our places session, we were joined by Zoe Ellis-Moore (Spaces to Places), Kate Shepherd and Matt Parry (The Future Collective), and Ruth Duston (Primera Corporation). Zoe Ellis-Moore of Spaces to Places introduced the session by discussing hybrid office spaces and how employers should re-evaluate the purpose of the office and look at the demand for flexible office spaces in their sectors.

Kate Shepherd and Matt Parry of The Future Collective discussed all things design. A great take away from this was how with some simple yet effective changes to the designs of our retail spaces, we can future proof the UK high-street, creating an agile and adaptable high-street that will be able to face up to the challenges of an ever changing retail landscape. This can be achieved through focusing on regenerative retail through repurposed materials, sustainable dialogue, and the design for disassembly. Topping this off with the importance of localism and ideas to help revive districts, Kate and Matt gave a compelling presentation on the future of retail design.  

Closing this session was Ruth Duston, Managing Director of Primera Corporation. Ruth gave a fantastic presentation on the future of BIDs and how they can continue to thrive through finding an opportunity and taking action to resolve it. Further to this, Ruth touched on opportunities to show leadership and produce change in the BID industry by ensuring that regeneration projects deliver tangible benefits for businesses and the community, and combining strategic insight with formidable attention to detail. We were pleased to hear about the growth and expansion of BIDs in London, with a new central London BID, The Eastern City Cluster, going to ballot in January 2022.


Speaker presentations can be downloaded below. If you’d like to get in touch with any of the speakers, please contact us on 0845 112 0118 and we can share their contact details. 

Vicky Pryce, Economist

Paul Mason, Writer & Broadcaster

Will Dyson, New West End Company

Livia Caruso, Hammersmith BID

Oliver Wayman, BOTTLETOP

Zoe Ellis-Moore, Spaces to Places

Kate Shepherd & Matt Parry, The Future Collective

Ruth Duston, Primera Corporation


Our next conference will be in November 2022, keep your eyes peeled for more information in the new year!

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